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Mezcal vs. Tequila

Mezcal Regions

Just like many European specialties such as Champagne, Mezcal is protected as an appellation of origin and in order for an Agave distillate to be called Mezcal it needs to originate from one of the following seven states in Mexico: Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Michoacán and lastly the home state of our Mezcal Buen Suceso, Oaxaca.

Furthermore the Mezcal production needs to follow certain rules and standards set by the COMERCAM (Consejo Mexicano Regulador de la Calidad del Mezcal), to ensure the quality of all Mezcals.

 Mezcal vs. Tequila

The type of Agave is the biggest differentiator between Mezcals and Tequilas. A Mezcal can be made from any species of Agave as long as it comes from one of the eight distinct states, whereas a Tequila must be made from the blue Agave (or Agave tequilana) and must come from another set of distinct regions (Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Tamaulipas and Nayarit). Following these rules, technically every Tequila is a Mezcal but not every Mezcal is a Tequila.

A distinct differentiator in taste between Tequila and Mezcal is caused by the way the Agaves are cooked. The Agaves for the use of Tequila are usually cooked in steam ovens whereas for Mezcal traditionally large underground stone pits are used where the Agaves are slowly cooked. The smoke created throughout this process leaves the Mezcal with a certain smoky taste.

Next to the inevitable differences in taste another big difference between Tequila and Mezcal lies in the structure of its industry.

Tequila turned into a multi-billion dollar industry with a few big international players that are dominating the market and produce Tequila in industrialized large quantities.

The Mezcal industry in turn is just at its beginning. Somewhat forgotten for centuries Mezcal got rediscovered by Mexico’s youth as the true Mexican spirit sharing the country’s values and traditions. Many producers and new emerging brands compete in this still relatively open market. The result is that whereas most Tequilas are standardized (also due to the restrictions on one Agave species), Mezcal offers a great variety, unmatched by many spirits worldwide. Each Agave type, each distiller, each batch and even each bottle offers a distinct and complex taste. The way Mezcal is drunk by sipping and savoring it straight stands in high contrast to the ‘party drink’ Tequila, which is often drunk in shots. Despite many good quality Tequilas that exist, Mezcal can be described as the more sophisticated drink.