Mezcal vs Tequila
Mezcal Vs Tequila
Many people do not know the overall differences between Mezcal vs tequila, and many times these differences are confused and entangled without any clear/or reliable source of information that may explain what separates these two popular Mexican Spirits.
With that said, we have taken the task of writing in our webpage the main differences between el Mezcal vs Tequila in order to shed some light on the subject and aid connoisseurs, critics, barmen, and sommeliers alike in their goal of further understanding the world of Mexican Spirits. There are 3 basic differences between Mezcal and Tequila that are worth remembering, and we shall explain each one of them in detail:
Denomination of Origin / Production Regions
Mezcal is thought to be the oldest alcoholic spirit that has been produced in the American Continent, dating back to the XVI century when the arrival of the Spaniards brought the distillation technology to the Mesoamerican civilizations.
Mezcal comes from the Aztec word Mex – Cal which means, cooked agave, which is the key ingredient in the production process of the spirit. Mezcal was first produced in the state of Zacatecas, in central Mexico, which is where the first Spanish colonies settled in their attempt to secure mining resources for the crown of King Charles V of House Habsburg. As time passed, the technique of producing Mezcal spread to other states of Mexico, where it individually developed different production processes and traditions, depending on the state and the culture of the people living there.
As a result, Mezcal can be very different in terms of taste, aroma , quality depending on the region where it was produced. For instance, Mezcals that are produced in the Souther State of Oaxaca are known for being stronger in taste, also in alcoholic content, and for having a smoky flavour that is obtained when the Agaves are cooked using Firewood. In contrast, Mezcals that are produced in the Central parts of Mexico, such as the state of Zacatecas, are known to be considerably smoother tasting, and easier to drink. This is thanks to the European Inherited Idea, that lingered though time in this region, that a good Mezcal, like a good wine, must preserve its core flavours in order to maintain its purity and essence. Thus, other external flavours that are added elsewhere, such as smoke, ash, and even the infamous Mezcal worm are strictly forbidden in the production methods of Mezcal from Zacatecas.
Going back to the differences between Mezcal vs Tequila in terms of ancestry.
Tequila is a relatively new Spirit that emerged in the early 1900, and took off thanks to a very strong boom that it underwent thanks to marketing campaigns’ that were made in that time. Ironically, Tequila ended up being the most popular of the two, and in a very short period of time, however, its important to note that Mezcal has been around for more than 400 years before the rise of other Agave based spirits, including Tequila, Sotol , Raicilla and Bacanora.
In terms of production there are considerable differences in el Mezcal vs Tequila, and some of them are quite important in order to further understand these two spirits. The first main difference is that Tequila can only be produced of one type of Agave, called the Agave Azul. Mezcal in the other hand, can be produced of all the types of Agave that are popular in the aforementioned regions including: Espadin, Tobala, Cenizo, Azul, Madrecuishe , Cuishe amongs many others.
On a side note, there are Mezcal-producing states in Mexico, like Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi, that have been producing Mezcal also out of Agave Azul, for over 400 years now, much earlier than the word Tequila was even invented. Going forward, the production process of both Mezcal and Tequila differs greatly, which is what we will talk about next.
Tequila , being a much popular spirits than its ancient predecessor, has an incredibly high demand worldwide, and for this reason its production process has evolved to be more industrialized and massive in order to meet this rising demand. One important characteristic of this is that Tequila can be produced using only 51% Agave extract. This allows for a much faster production. Mezcal in the other hand has a strict 100% Agave rule that remains to this day.
Another important difference is that Tequila can be bottled anywhere. This allows for importers to be able to buy very large containers of the spirit, and bottle it locally. Unfortunately this gives room to many common situations where the spirit is altered in order to create a better yield. This is done by the importers, and the Tequila industry has no control over it because the spirit is being shipped in massive containers. This practice has given Tequila a bad image worldwide due to the bad quality of the end product, but also allows for Tequila to be sold cheaply and massively everywhere in the world.
Mezcal on the other hand, has a strict Bottled at the Source rule, that prevents it from ever leaving the distillery unless its sealed in a bottle. This eliminates the possibility that the spirits will be altered, but this is also the reason the cost of Mezcal can be significantly higher than Tequila .
Denomination Of Origin
It is very important to say that both Mezcal and Tequila have their own Denomination of Origin. This means that these both spirits can only be produced in certain regions inside Mexico, and nowhere else. It’s also important to say that these two regions do not share space with one another, although a state may have both denominations, its only possible because the Tequila and Mezcal are produced in separate municipalities inside that state.
The regions where Mezcal can be produced is limited to only 8 states throughout Mexico. These states are: Tamaulipas, Durango, Michoacán, Zacatecas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato
The regions where Tequila can be produced are located inside the states of: Tamaulipas, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Jalisco, and Nayarit.