There is a saying in Oaxaca- ‘For everything bad, there's mezcal, and for everything good too.’ As fancy as it sounds, Mezcal originates from the Aztec language that refers to a traditional Mexican spirit. Made from the maguey plant, mezcal means ‘roasted agave’. Just like many spirits take origins from various destinations, Mezcal has a regional distinction too. More than 90% of the world's mezcal is produced in Oaxaca, a town in Mexico.
Complex in flavor and aroma, this spirit can be made from 40 to 50 species of agave. The agave is distilled using underground fire pits that are fuelled by wood and charcoal. Mezcals generally have a better chance of tasting multi-dimensional than regular tequila because of this characteristic process. Although mezcals are thought to have a stronger flavor, they needn’t always be true. You're likely to get a spirit with an ABV of around 40% if you order a mezcal or tequila neat in a bar; this is the same as the vast majority of spirits sold worldwide. But comparatively, mezcals are more fun to sip!
Mezcals speak of true culture in Mexico, especially in the state of Oaxaca. In contrast to being viewed as ‘just a spirit’, this lively liquor is part of most homes. From being used on children’s rashes to using it as a social glue to bring people together, Mezcal holds a special place in this country.
Since this drink is derived from roasted agaves, it imparts a smokey flavor that can be overbearing or extremely delicate, depending on the brand. Because of the way it is crafted, Mezcal tends to contain some smoke. The basic process remains the same today as it was hundreds of years ago, which makes it a charming fact. However, mezcals do not have to be overly smokey. In fact, this liquor should not overpower the flavor with smoke. Excessively smokey mezcals are typically criticized by mezcal distillers as they may indicate quality problems.
Modern mezcals come in distinct flavors that vary with the type of agave used, the soil from which it is grown, or the method in which it is made. From citrus to rubber, the aromas used to describe mezcals are interestingly unique.
Mezcals can be largely characterized based on the type of agave used and the location they are produced in. The majority of mezcal is made in Oaxaca from espadín, a single agave plant. As a result, Oaxacan espadín will be the one you’ll likely find. There are a few more labels that designate mezcals from a certain region, and each one has its own varieties. If you dare to try something different, you could shop for the best mezcal online!
If you wonder why mezcals are the ‘in’ thing these days, it's because it is a distinct liquor. This spirit is still known to be created by hand in small distilleries with dirt floors! The people who are successful mezcal distillers today learned from their fathers, who were taught by their fathers, and so on. This entire process differs depending on the area and is still firmly rooted in traditional Mexican cultures. Mezcal doesn't get much more artisanal than this!
The majority of mezcal produced in Mexico is handcrafted, making it an expensive drink compared to other spirits of commercial quality. This liquor is traditionally poured in a shot glass and had neat. Sal de gusano, a spice consisting of salt, chili, and ground, toasted worm (a kind that lives inside the agave plant) is another variation that involves mixing a shot glass of mezcal with sliced oranges. If you must know the real way to have a mezcal, ideally you kiss the mezcal, not shoot it!
Here’s an interesting dig into the past– A mezcal producer once spotted larvae in a batch of his liquor in the 1950s and thought the insect complemented the flavor. He started including ‘worms’ in all of his bottles as a marketing trick. Although the ‘worm’ part sounds convincing, it is considered a gimmick in many modern bars.
Undoubtedly, the best mezcal cocktails have been handed down through the ages. While mezcal enthusiasts advise having the drink neat, bartenders can create complex formulas to unleash an explosion of flavors. Cocktail enthusiasts swoon over this drink for its bold and smoky flavor. Liven up your cocktail game by infusing the boldness of this spirit. If you ever plan on making a mix of your own, make sure to own a bottle of this Mexican classic. Because once you have one, the possibilities are endless.
No matter what agave spirit you choose to drink, it has a long history of tradition in Mexico. It is indeed the country’s beloved spirit, so shop the best mezcal online right here. In a world full of spirits, mezcal is an artwork.