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What’s The Difference Between Tequila and Mezcal?

Tequila and Mezcal are the two famous Mexican spirits that are made from the agave plant. With the rise of cocktail culture, both tequila and mezcal have found new popularity on bar shelves and cocktail lists.

Although you may feel there is no difference between them, there are some key differences between the two drinks, primarily in terms of the type of agave used, the production process and the region of Mexico where it is produced.

Tequila is Mezcal, but not all Mezcals are Tequilas.

Tequila is made in the Jalisco region of Mexico and Mezcal is usually produced in the Oaxaca region. While Tequila is made only from the blue Weber agave, the process involves steaming the heart of the agave plant in above-ground ovens and then distilling the liquid in copper pots. Mezcal, on the other hand, is made from more than 30 varieties of agave. Most mezcals are produced with agave espadin, the most commonly found variety of agave. Its signature smoky flavour comes from cooking the agave in underground pits, which are lined with hot rocks that burn for about 24 hours before the cooking process begins. This roasting caramelize the agave plants, which gives it a rich, flavourful, savoury and smoky taste.

Types of Tequila and Mezcal

Both tequila and mezcal are aged inside oak barrels after the distillation process is over. However, the aging categories of the two spirits are defined slightly differently.

Tequila comes in three varieties:

Blanco – Silver or Plato/Aged for 0-2 months

Reposado – Aged for 2-12 months

Anejo – Aged for 1-3 years

Mezcal is also divided into three categories by age:

Joven – Blanco or abacado/Aged for 0-2 months

Reposado – Aged for 2-12 months

Anejo – Aged for at least one year

Since Blanco has not been aged, it is clear and without the flavours that

aging would impart and can be bottled immediately.

Flavour 

Thanks to mezcal’s underground fire pit method, the spirit appears to have a more savoury, smokier profile than Tequila’s. Bear in mind that the longer any spirit spends aging in bottle, the better, more sophisticated the taste profile it will have.

Neat or Cocktail 

Both mezcal and tequila make fine solo sippers, although both are strong additions to a multitude of cocktail creations. Popular tequila drinks include the sunrise of tequila, the Paloma and, of course, the margarita. Experiment with exchanging tequila with Mezcal for a smokier, more robust variation on your favourite tequila-based drinks.

Price Point 

Just like any wine or spirit, Tequila and Mezcal too can be found in any price range across the spectrum. Because of its more industrial production process, it’s usually easier to find less costly tequila than Mezcal, although we don’t necessarily recommend going to the lowest rung on the ladder — that is, unless you’re searching for a Stick with a price range that you’re comfortable with. Grab a bottle of Tequila and Mezcal each and try, taste and compare them.

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