The difference between drinking mezcal and drinking tequila

Mezcal and tequila have become a benchmark for the quality of Mexican distillates and carriers of the culture and culinary tradition of our country. Although, in a broad way, one could say that tequila is a type of mezcal because it comes from the distillate of an agave, there are many facts that make them different beverages, from the production process to the taste. These differences are what make each drink unique and particular, satisfying all kinds of tastes.

To begin, we will talk about the denomination of origin (DO.) Tequila is a colonial drink, whose term was coined in 1975. It is only produced in five states: Jalisco (the motherland of tequila), Michoacán, Nayarit, Guanajuato and Tamaulipas. On the other hand, mezcal is a pre-Hispanic drink that can be produced in nine states, which represents 25% of the country, and has the largest denomination of origin in the world. The states are: Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Puebla, Zacatecas, Tamaulipas and Michoacán. Here we can find more than 20 different species of agave.

Speaking of agave, this is another crucial difference between the two drinks. Tequila is made from the Tequilana Weber agave or blue agave, while mezcal can have several species, wild or cultivated, the most common being Angustifolia or espadín. In addition, according to the NOM, mezcal requires a use of 80% of agave, while tequila only requires 51%.

The most notable difference, especially in taste, is the production process. Most of the tequila is made with an industrial process, with steel machinery and masonry ovens, that result in a neutral flavor and aroma. Mezcal can be produced in a traditional, ancestral, and rarely, in an industrial way. Its cooking in stone conical ovens and fermentation in wooden vats gives it an earthy flavor and an intense aroma. The cooking process also varies in both distillates.

Having clearer the differences between mezcal and tequila, we can choose the right drink according to the occasion. Undoubtedly, both drinks are unique and their quality will depend on how they are made. The choice will depend entirely on our personal taste.