Tequila and Mezcal are two distilled spirits made from the same source, agave. Except for the fact that they have the same source, the two spirits are entirely different. Tequila is a type of mezcal but all mezcals cannot be considered tequila.
Here we will explain the differences between tequila and mescal, two suitable choices when you buy liquor online.
Both tequila and mezcal are made from agave but the type of agave chosen for distilling the spirits makes all the difference. Mezcal can be made using about 30 varieties of agave while tequila is exclusively made from blue agave. Tobaziche, arroqueño, tepeztate, tobalá and espadín are the most common agave varieties used to make mezcal.
Region Of Production
Tequila is produced exclusively in five areas of Mexico that are around the town of Tequila. The regions are Guanajuato, Jalisco, Tamaulipas, Nayarit and Michoacá. Almost 85 percent of the total mezcal production in Mexico happens in nine areas, Durango, Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Michoacá, Guanajuato,San Louis Potosi, Zacatecas, Oaxaca and Puebla.
Both mezcal and tequila are made from the core of the agave plants known as the heart or piña. Harvesters cut this core out from mature agave plants using specialized tools. Once the piña is obtained from the agave plants, they are processed differently to produce tequila and mezcal.
To make tequila, the hearts of the blue agave plants are steamed inside industrial ovens. It is then distilled two or three times in copper pots. However, in the production of mezcal, the piña is cooked inside earthen pits, lined with lava rocks. The pits will also have wood and charcoal filled inside. It is after this process that distillation begins in clay pots.
Most of the large scale mezcal manufacturers have switched to modern methods but artisanal mezcal makers still follow the traditional method.
After tequila and mezcal are distilled, both are aged inside oak barrels. However, the categories based on aging are defined differently for the spirits. Based on aging, tequila may belong to any one of the three categories, Blanco (0-2 months aging), Reposado (2-12 months aging) and Anejo (1-3 years aging).
Mezcal falls into any one of the three categories, Joven (0-2 months aging), Reposado (2-12 months aging) and Anejo ( minimum one year).
Mezcal production is highly complex and labor-intensive which makes the drink more expensive than tequila. Some of the ingredients used in making mezcal take even up to 35 years to reach maturity.