Many people don't know or even heard of Mezcal. Maybe it's the small quantaties produced but as Tequila grows more popular, there is a possibility you might meet it's cousin Mezcal. Mezcal most likely will gain in popularity and might even surpass Tequila as the next best drink.
The origins of Mezcal is based in myth and is still a mystery. Some say that lightning struck an agave plant and split it open to give birth to Mezcal the elixir of the gods.
Some say the spanish conquistadors ran out of their own liquor and after being introduced to agave, decided to distill it to createTequila and Mezcal. Maybe some myths should stay mysteries because it adds a certain respect for the unknown.
Mezcal is made from the maguey plant which is a variety of agave. The maguey plant was sacred in religious ceremonies and rituals of the Mexican culture. Cooking the heart of the maguey and fermenting the juices was common. The maguey plant takes some time to reach maturity and so only small quantaties of mezcal are made at a time. There are many differences between Tequila and Mezcal. Mezcal is a bit harsher and raw in taste compared to Tequlia which is smoother. There are many different types of Mezcals and depending on distilling and aging, they all vary. The smoky bite of Mezcal is like a single malt from Islay compared to a kentucky whiskey. Originally Tequila and Mezcal was nick-named aguardiente or fiery water and was introduced to North America by the spanish conquistadors.
Mezcal is mostly made from the area of Oaxaca and starts by roasting the maguey which gives it the smoky flavor and taste. The actual process takes about three days where the pinas` are cooked in a pit oven filled with hot rocks. The underground roasting brings out the intensity of the flavor. The next step includes smashing and fermenting before distilling.
Mezcal is usually enjoyed straight up and not mixed. The smoky raw taste makes it a hard spirit to mix but I'm sure there will be a signature drink soon associated with Mezcal. In Mexico, people take a shot in the morning before the day starts while others spill a little out to show respect to Mayahuel, the goddess of fertility and the maguey plant. There are many diffferent brands of Mezcal but beware of the worm. The concept of the worm in tequila and Mezcal was created in 1940 as a gimmick. It's not even a real worm in the bottle, It's a larva and most of the bottles with the worm in it are lower quality products. If a worm was inside the maguey plant then that would mean there was an infestation and the finished product would be of lower quality.
Mezcal may not be for everyone but it's definitely worth trying and who knows, maybe this spicy cousin of Tequila might be your next favorite drink. As always this is Billy Wineheart wishing you good friends, good food and good drinks.