If you are into cocktail making or have hung out at the pub a lot, you might have come across tequila and mezcal. You might even be confused as to what the difference between the two is. Well fear not, we are here to answer all of your questions! While tequila is well know to many, mezcal is slightly less well known. But it is getting more and more popular in bars and cocktail making classes in the UK.
It is important to note that tequila and mescals are both made from agave, a plant native to South America. You might have heard of agave in its syrup/nectar form used as a sweetener for baking, cooking and drinks. But even if both drinks are made from the same plants they are not the same thing. Here are the differences between tequila and mezcal:
1. All tequilas are mezcals, but not all mezcals are tequilas
The term ‘mezcal’ groups all agave-based liquors. Tequila is drink made from a specific type of blue agave called ‘agave tequilana’ which means that it is a type of mezcal, in the same that scotch is a type of whiskey. All tequilas are mezcals but not all mezcals are tequilas.
2. Mezcal can be made of many types of agave
Mezcal can be made from more than 30 varieties of agave. Mezcal is most commonly made using the tepeztate, tobalá, tobaziche, arroqueño and espadín varieties. But it can also be made from more rare varieties indigenous to certain select parts or South America.
3. They are made in different regions
A big part of the mezcal and tequila production takes place in Mexico. While there is geographical overlap, tequila and mezcal come from different regions of Mexico. Tequila is mainly produced in the states of Tamaulipas, Michoacán, Nayarit, Guanajuato, and Jalisco. The term tequila itself originated from the town of Tequila in the state of Jalisco. On the other hand most of the production of mezcal takes place in the states of San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato, Puebla, Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacán, Durango and Oaxaca.
4. Their are distilled in different ways
The production process of both mezcal and tequila starts by the harvest of the ‘piña’, the core of the agave plant. But even if they both use the same part of the plant, the rest of the process is quite different. Mezcal is traditionally obtained through a long process during which the piña is cooked inside earthen pits lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal and then distilled in clay pots. There are now more modern ways to produce it but a lot of small distilleries still apply traditional techniques. On the other hand, tequila is obtained by steaming the piña and multiple distillation of it in copper pots.
5. They are aged in different ways
After the distillation process comes the ageing process. While both liquors are aged in oak barrels, they are aged differently. Mezcal is typically produced in three categories of age. First
‘joven’ (blanco or abacado’) which is from 0 to 2 month ageing, ‘reposado’ which is from 2 to 12 months of ageing and ‘anejo’ which from at least 1 year to more. Tequila also comes in three varieties. First, ‘blanco’ (silver or plato) which from 0 to 2 months of ageing, ‘reposado' which from 2 to 12 months of ageing (2-12 months) and ‘anejo’ which is from 1 year to 3 years of ageing. Quite similar processes but with very important differences.
6. They are labelled differently
Because their production and ageing process are so different, they are labelled differently and therefore classified differently.
Hopefully, you now understand the difference between mezcal and tequila and will be able to impress your friend during your next liquor tasting session! You can find a selection of our mezcals and tequilas on our website, order yours today!