Tequila vs. Mezcal

Okay, okay, I get it. I work at a Mezcaleria and so you want to know the age-old question (something I get asked at work at least once a day) – What’s the difference between tequila and Mezcal? I promise I won’t get all sciencey on you, either, like a wine person would. The major difference that most anyone will tell you is that tequila is tequila and Mezcal tastes like smoke. They aren’t wrong when making that judgment, but it’s more observant than it is insightful.

So why is Mezcal smoky? And what are their differences? Are they similar? Are they both from Mexico? Okay, it’s simple. There are four simple facts everyone should and can know about Mezcal.

  • They’re both traditionally made in Mexico, although usually in different regions.
  • Due to laws upheld in Mexico, Tequila is only qualified as such if it is created with one type of agave – Blue Agave. Whereas Mezcal can be made with any agave, giving it more variety and flavor than Tequila.
  • The actual process of fermenting and producing Mezcal is more involved than with Tequila. Specifically, the agave that helps create Mezcal is prepared almost in the same fashion tradition barbacoa is cooked – in a dug out coal pit with lots of smoke. This is where the distinct flavor of the drink comes from.

So the next time you come visit Antonio and me, or Trisha, or Ashlee, or John – you’ll know what the key differences are. Hey, and I mean this, if you come and order a Mezcal flight and know all of those differences between Tequila and Mezcal, I will give you half off!

And tell your friends! Spread the word about Mezcal. Maybe one day I won’t have to answer that question at work if this P.S.A really takes off.