The differences between these two delicious and lively Mexican delights.
In American bars, mezcal is rapidly gaining ground in terms of popularity on tequila. Do you know the difference between the two? If not, keep on reading!
All Tequilas Are Mezcals, But Not All Mezcals Are Tequilas
Tequila is a type of mezcal, similarly to how scotch and bourbon are types of whiskey. Mezcal is defined as any agave-based liquor. This includes tequila, which is produced in specific regions of Mexico and must be made from only blue agave (Agave Tequilana).
Different Kinds of Agave
Interestingly enough, both tequilas and mezcals originate from the same fruit, the heart of the agave plant known as the piña. Mezcals can come from as many as 30 different types of agave plants but tequilas must come from the blue agave. Even though 90% of all mezcals come from the Espadin agave, there are still a wide variety of blends available for the world to enjoy.
Similarly to champagne in France, tequilas must come from specific areas of Mexico. This location is known as the “tequila” region and includes Jalisco, where the actual town of Tequila resides. Mezcal can come from many areas throughout Mexico but the vast majority comes from the Oaxaca region.
Different Distillation Processes
As both tequilas and mezcals come from their respective plants, their distillation processes are different as well. To develop tequila’s distinct flavor, the agave is steamed in a large industrial oven and then is distilled inside of a large copper pot.
On the other hand, mezcal has a more earthy backbone to its distillation process. For this method, the agave is heated up inside of a large pit in the ground. Lava rock, wood, and charcoal heat up for up to a day before the agave is added. After this, the liquid is distilled in large clay pots.
The distillations are both aged in oak barrels and the length of time of aging determines the quality of the product. For tequila, Blanco varietals age up to 2 months while Reposado and Anejo tequilas age from 2 to 12 months and from 1 to 3 years respectively. Mezcals less than 2 months of age are usually referred to as “Joven mezcal” while older varietals are similarly referred to as Reposado and Anejo as well.
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