sIn the longstanding competition between mezcal vs tequila, you may be wondering what exactly are the big differences between these two spirits? While both drinks are excellent in mixed cocktails and enjoyed on their own, here is a simple breakdown of what makes mezcal and tequila distinctly different.
You may have heard this before, that all tequila is mezcal but not all of it is tequila. This is because the definition of mezcal is a spirit distilled from the agave plant.
While mezcal is usually made from a variety of 30 different agave species and must be 100% agave, tequila is made only with the blue weber agave and only needs to make up 51% of the ingredients. Most often tequila includes other sugars and ingredients to this spirit.
The maturity of the agave is also different between mezcal and tequila. To make mezcal, the agave plants must reach a maturity of 7-15 years before they are able to be harvested. The agave used in tequila only needs to be 6-7 years before used in the production process.
The biggest difference between mezcal and tequila is how it’s made. Mezcal is produced at a small scale level because the heart of the agave, also known as the piña, is steamed in above-ground ovens. This creates the smokey rich flavor that mezcal is known for. After this, the liquid is then distilled in copper pots.
Tequila is mass-produced and therefore does not have the same artisanal or traditional process. The agave used in the making of tequila do not get smoked, but instead are cooked straight into large metal ovens and are then distilled in stainless steel barrels.
Since tequila is only made with the blue weber agave, it is most commonly made in Jalisco, Mexico. There are four other regions that tequila can be made in and this is mainly because the blue weber agave is only grown in these areas.
Mezcal can be made in nine regions of Mexico, but is most commonly made in the Oaxaca region. These different regions are key for the making of mezcal and tequila as neither spirit can be called by their name unless they are made from their specific regions.
Due to the cooking process of mezcal, this spirit contains a much smokier flavor than tequila. The variety of different agave species used to create this spirit also creates a different flavor between each brand and bottle. While you can substitute mezcal for tequila into your favorite mixed drinks, it is most often enjoyed on its own.
Since tequila is only made with the blue weber agave, the taste tends to be more consistent between different brands and bottles. Tequila usually has a fruity yet salty taste that is enjoyed in both mixed drinks and enjoyed straight. The only factor that contributes to a significant change in taste between tequilas is age.
The last major difference between mezcal and tequila is the price. With tequila being a mass-produced spirit it is often found at a cheaper price than mezcal. The higher price of mezcal comes with the labor-intensive and traditional process of making this spirit. It is a very small scale and handmade spirit that is truly deserving of its higher price.
While there are some big differences between mezcal and tequila, we hope you are better able to understand what makes these two spirits unique. For a more personal experience, we highly recommended grabbing a bottle of both tequila and mezcal to taste the true differences for yourself.