What is Mezcal & what Makes it Different from Tequila? 

The Difference between Mezcal & Tequila.

Both Mezcal and Tequila are popular liquors from Mexico. While Tequila has been a favorite, Mezcal has become very popular of late. Both these liquors are made from the agave plant. The difference is in the processing or the method used to make the liquor. The distillation process used to make Mezcal is entirely different from that of Tequila. The distilling process gives a unique flavor to Mezcal. There are many other differences between the two that are explored below.

The Mezcal-Tequila Relation is Complicated

Here’s a fact you need to understand. Tequila is a type of Mezcal. So, all Tequilas are Mezcals. However, Mezcals are not Tequilas. To understand the difference, we need to go to the source, which is agave.

The agave plant is mainly grown in Mexico, so both Mezcal and Tequila have originated from this country. The plant is known for its fleshy leaves that are tall. But the spirits are made from the stem that is known as pina. This pina is cooked to make its fibers soft. During the cooking process, the starches in the stem are converted to sugars.

There are more than 50 agave types. Mezcal can be made from any of them. However, Tequila is made only from one particular type of agave, which is the blue agave.

Different Processes for Different Products

When Tequila needs to be made, the pina is steamed inside ovens to cook it. Then the distillation process is carried out and copper pots are used for the same. The resulting product is Tequila made from the blue agave plant.

Mezcal, on the other hand, is cooked in earthen pits. These pits would be lined by lava rocks and would have charcoal and wood filled in them. After this, clay pots are used to complete the distillation. This process ensures a smoky flavor that is unique for Mezcal.

They are Made in Different Places

Tequila is made in the town of Tequila. Apart from that, it is made in a total of five regions in Mexico. The regions are Jalisco (the location of Tequila town), Nayarit, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, and Guanajuato.

Mezcal is made in nine areas in Mexico. Guanajuato and Michoacán are areas where both Tequila and Mezcal are made. The other areas where Mezcal is made include Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Guerrero, and Puebla. An interesting point to note is that some Mezcal drinks are made in other places, but they are not called Mezcal.

The Labeling is Different

Once the distillation process is complete, both these liquors are aged by making use of barrels made of oak. There are differences in the aging categories. Tequila has three varieties as follows:

0 to 2 months aged: Plato or Silver.

2 to 12 months aged: Reposado.

1 to 3 years: Anejo.

The age varieties for Mezcal are as follows:

0 to 2 months aged: Joven.

2 to 12 months: Reposado.

One year+: Anejo.

The Taste & Alcohol Content are Different

Tequila has notes of citrus and pepper. The finish is spicy. It has 40% alcohol by volume.

Mezcal has a smoky taste with various lingering notes. The alcohol volume by content is 55%.

Cost

Both the drinks cost $30 to $50 for a 750 ml bottle. Premium bottles cost more, especially Tequila, whose cost can go up to $190 for 750 ml.

Mezcal vs Tequila – Explained by Lui Fernandes

Chef Antonio Rossi

Antonio Rossi is an experienced Chef from one of the world's most beautiful places, Sicily, Italy. Chef Antonio spent plenty of his childhood with his granny in the kitchen, and that's how he discovered his love and passion for food. Chef Antonio worked in some of the most awarded restaurants and hotels in London, Paris and New York. Chef Antonio is committed to sharing his easy & quick recipes with you to help you get a beautiful approach to gastronomy.