There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the infamous Mezcal Worm that can be found in some bottles of Mezcal. Its not clear for people its purpose, and weather why its not present in all Mezcal brands , and where this tradition comes from.
We have taken the time in order to explain this phenomenon hoping that we can shine some light on the subject
We mentioned about how Mezcal has very different production methods depending on where it is being made, inside the 9 different states where production is allowed. Every state, has their very own traditions with respect to their Mezcal, and these traditions vary greatly from region to region, but the final product carries the same name in the end of the day.
In the southern state of Oaxaca, Mezcal is produced in a very particular way. In this region, Mezcal evolved to be a part of the local culture, and given that this particular state has very strong indigenous roots, its Mezcal production suffered from some alterations that can explain why there is a worm in some of the Mezcal products that are produced here. In Oaxaca, Mezcal became a spirit that was used as part of the local folklore, such as religious ceremonies, rituals, social gatherings , and mystical events, that are common in the religious traditions of the natives of the state of Oaxaca.
People started adding all sorts of different ingredients to their Mezcal , in order to enhance the religious and mystical experience for the events in which Mezcal was more and more being a part of, including worms, beetles, rabbits, and chicken. The purpose of this was not to make the spirit better tasting, but only to absorb the “ energies” of the land, which agreed with the local beliefs and their traditions. Many of this ingredients were eliminated over time, for it became clear it did not help in the taste or in the hygiene, the Mezcal Worm however, lingered on, and to this day some bottlers still add the insect.
Its important to note that Mezcal producers in other states have never used this ideals, and even Producers in Oaxaca have stopped using the worm because it only reflects bad quality of the Mezcal. (Worms are only present in infested agaves that have not been properly cared for )
In conclusion, Mezcal from Oaxaca is produced with the ideal that the more flavours and strength it has, the better, even worms are allowed to meet these criteria. Mezcals produced in other regions, such as Zacatecas, posses the ideal that Mezcal is made to be enjoyed and sipped, so the result is a more refined, smoother tasting spirit. Both are called Mezcal, but the taste and complexity are very different, and both are meant to be tried and enjoyed.