Do you drink mezcal like tequila?

Answered by Michael Weatherspoon

As a sommelier and brewer, I can tell you that is indeed different from , both in terms of its production process and flavor profile. While tequila and mezcal are both Mexican made from agave plants, there are distinct differences that set them apart.

One of the key differences between mezcal and tequila lies in the agave plants used. Tequila is made exclusively from the blue agave plant, while mezcal can be made from various types of agave, including espadín, tobalá, and tobaziche, among others. This variety of agave species gives mezcal a wider range of flavors and aromas compared to tequila.

Another significant distinction is the way in which mezcal and tequila are produced. Tequila is typically made using industrial ovens to cook the agave, while mezcal traditionally uses earthen pits lined with lava rocks, giving it a distinct smoky flavor. This smokiness is often what sets mezcal apart and gives it the reputation of being tequila's smoky-tasting cousin.

In terms of drinking mezcal, it is commonly enjoyed straight, sipped slowly to appreciate its complex flavors. The smoky notes and earthy undertones are best savored without any mixers or additional flavors. However, mezcal is also becoming increasingly popular as a cocktail ingredient, with mixologists incorporating its unique flavors into creative drinks.

Personal experiences have shown me that drinking mezcal straight allows you to fully experience its nuances and appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into its production. The smokiness can be quite intense, especially in artisanal mezcals, so it's important to approach it with an open mind and a willingness to explore new flavors.

To summarize, mezcal is a distinct Mexican spirit that differs from tequila in terms of the agave plants used, the production process, and the flavor profile. While tequila is made exclusively from blue agave and has a smoother taste, mezcal is made from various agave species and has a smoky flavor imparted by traditional production methods. Mezcal is typically enjoyed straight, allowing the complex flavors to shine, but it is also gaining popularity as a cocktail ingredient.