Difference Between Mezcal And Tequila
Spirits can be described in so many ways, through their components or how they look. Mezcal is an agave liquor that is a part of the Mexican culture, and although it is gotten from the same plant as tequila, they have a few properties that make them different. We will be looking at mezcal vs tequila in this article.
The Contrast Between Mezcal Vs Tequila
Mezcal is a Nahuatl word for agave that’s cooked. Agave is a necessary plant in the production of spirits. It is the rounded stem known as piña that producers use to make the spirit. After the harvest of the plant, the piña is cooked – this is so that the fibers get soft and convert their starches to sugar. Traditionally, agave is roasted.
Nowadays, spirit producers steam agave to reduce its smoky feature.
Mezcal and tequila are both produced from agave. Tequila ingredients are the same as those of agave mezcal. To produce mezcal, you need about 50 different types of agave plant species. On the other hand, the production of tequila alcohol requires only a single agave plant – either from agave tequilana Weber or Weber blue agave from which blue agave alcohol is gotten.
In addition, agave that is meant for mezcal is usually roasted in underground pits giving it the distinct smoky feature that it has, while those meant for the production of tequila are put into ovens and then steamed. Since all tequilas are mezcals, it provides the answer to the question, “Is mezcal tequila?”
After the plant has been cooked, the agave is then crushed. The traditional way to crush the agave is to have a giant stone wheel called a tahona pulled by a mule or donkey. Distilleries apply a mechanical means of crushing agave for mezcal or tequila. Local producers, however, still make use of either a mallet or machete to smash the piñas that have been cooked.
Irrespective of the compression method, the pulp, which is the result of the compression, is usually fermented and then distilled into mezcal alcohol or distilled tequila. Later on, the mezcals are poured into barrels and left for some time to age.
Terroir in Mezcal
As far as mezcal is concerned, terroir is a necessary component, unlike in other types of spirits. In fact, for any spirt to be mezcal, it must be made in one of the following states in Mexico: Guerrero, Durango, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas. This means that a spirit that is produced from agave using a mezcal processing method cannot be termed as mezcal except they are produced in one of the above Mexican states.
Where agave is cultivated and harvested is as important as where they are distilled and fermented. Mezcals of the highest quality are those that are fermented using wild yeast, which impacts their flavor and composition to a great extent.
The heritage of mezcal is well over many centuries, but it got to the United States in the mid-1990s. It was Ron Cooper who founded Del Maguey that began the exportation of mezcal to America. Not long after, other producers followed into the market. Cooper is a native of California who was an artist in the early part of his life living in Oaxaca (Mexican state).
According to him, the periods when he was not making art were spent traveling the countryside of Oaxaca. In a week, he spent every three days chasing rumors that there were pure mezcals being made by farmers.
As at 1995, several bottles were being imported into the U.S by Cooper. The mezcal he was supplying to the U.S were not just ordinary spirits. They were artisanal spirits made by certain families in distinct villages. He further went on to become the first producer who credited the village where he got his mezcals from and that led to the designated “single-village” spirit. The word on mezcals was spread by bartenders through cocktails and straight tastings.
A Guide To Agave Varieties
Most of the time, mezcals come from one variety of agave mezcal plants. However, the number of mezcals from various varieties that are currently appearing on the shelves of most bars are steadily increasing. Mezcal flavors also vary to a great extent, and this is dependent on where the mezcal plant is cultivated and where the mezcal and tequila alcohol is produced.
- Agave angustifolia. Under this variety, you will find such names as bacanora, castilla, espadilla, espadin, pacifica, and Weber blue agave. The region where they can be gotten span through Sonora to Tamaulipas, and straight through to Costa Rica. There are various flavors, however, the piñas which are roasted are rich and full of squash and baking spices.
- Agave karwinskii. The names under this category include barril, bicuixe, cuixe, largo, madrecuixe, and tobasiche. The region where they are gotten from is Oaxaca in Southern Mexico. Tobasiche, cuixe, and largo grow fast and they do not produce a lot of sugars and so they usually taste bitter (like coffee). While madecruixe, barril, and bicuixe do not grow fast and they produce lots of sugar; therefore, they have flavors that taste like fruits or nuts.
- Agave Americana. Names that you can find in this category include blanco, coyote, sierra negra, and arroqueño. They are mostly grown along the coasts of the South Pacific and in mexico. They have varying flavors. Those made from small agave coyote have a deep dark color, while those made from arroqueño have a piquant to green appearance.</li>
- Agave durangensis. Names you will see in this category include blanco, cenizo, and verde. The regions where they are grown include Central and Northern Mexico, especially in states like Zacates and Durango. Due to the arid nature of the climate in these regions, the mezcals have a somewhat mineral taste.
You should know by now that tequilas are mezcals, and that is one way the two can be distinguished. However, the most effective way to know the difference between mezcal alcohol and tequila is in the process of production and the areas wherein they are produced.
I hope this article was helpful to you. If you want to replenish your bar with interesting drinks, do not pass by our best alcohol reviews. Enjoy yourself now!
What does mezcal taste like?
Although it seems to have a charred taste, note that the taste comes from the production process. A lot of mezcals have a mineral, fruity, or floral taste, and this is dependent on the agave used to make it.
Is mezcal stronger than tequila?
Mezcal is not necessarily stronger than agave. Both mezcal and tequila fall in the range of 38 to 55 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). A particular mezcal can be stronger than a particular tequila and vice versa.
Where does agave come from?
Agave comes from the agave plant, which is only grown in the dry regions of Mexico. They come primarily from two species – salmiana and blue. Blue agave is what is used to make tequila.
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