This is the Real Difference Between Mezcal and Tequila
Mezcal, a Mexican liquor, has gained intense popularity in the cocktail industry. However, many people mistake mezcal for being the same as tequila, since it looks the same and comes from Mexico. There is a huge difference between the two liquors, though. In fact, they aren’t the same at all and are even enjoyed differently.
Same Type of Plant, Different Processes
Both liquors come from the agave plant. While they come from the same plant species, mezcal and tequila are made from different species of agave. There are over 200 different species of this desert succulent plant that is mostly found in warm regions of Mexico. Mezcal comes from about 28 different species of agave while tequila comes solely from the blue agave plant.
The process for making mezcal is also very different than when making tequila. The hearts of the agave plant or piñas are cooked in pits made from the earth that are surrounded with lava rock and filled with charcoal and wood. It is then distilled in clay pots.
The process for making tequila begins with steaming the heads of the blue agave plant in industrial ovens then being distilled in copper pots.
Mezcal and Tequila Taste Different
Even though the liquors come from the agave plant, they taste very different. This is mostly due to the species of plant and the process in which the liquor is made.
Mezcal has a strong, smokey flavor to it. This is mostly due to the earthy ingredients and tools used in the distillation process. You can also find mezcal in different flavors depending on the species of agave and any other sugars added during the distillation process.
Tequila is known for being a smoother and sweeter liquor compared to mezcal. As with the distillation process, there are more industrial materials used rather than natural ingredients.
They Come from Different Regions
You may be under the impression that mezcal and tequila come from all of Mexico. The truth is that they come from completely different regions!
About 85% of all mezcal is produced in Oaxaca, Puebla, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, and Michoacan. This is because the species of agave used to make mezcal are found in these regions.
Tequila, by order of the Mexican government, can only come from the following regions: Michoacan, Guanajuato, Nayarit, Tamaulipas, and Jalisco. However, depending on which region the tequila comes from, it may taste a little different due to the different climates.
What About the Worm?
A common myth about tequila is that there is a worm at the bottom of the bottle. There actually isn’t a worm in tequila but in certain mezcals from Oaxaca. Apparently, the worm in the bottle enhances the flavor of the mezcal. When it comes to finishing the bottle, whoever gets the worm is supposed to eat it.
Tequila is Mezcal, but Mezcal isn’t Tequila
To sum up, mezcal can come from a variety of different agave plant species, but tequila can only be produced from the blue agave plant. However, while mezcal isn’t a type of tequila, tequila is a type of mezcal. The real difference between these two Mexican liquors is the distillation process and the regions that it comes from.
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