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101: The Different Types of Mezcal

by | May 6, 2021 | Drinks, Mezcal


Ever heard of mezcal?

For tequila fans, mezcal is probably already familiar to you. The popular Mexican liquor is spreading to bars in the United States. If you haven’t seen the drink on a menu yet, you very likely will soon.

But for those who are unfamiliar, let’s take a look at some of the types of mezcal, its definition, and why you should give it a shot.

What is Mezcal?

In simplest terms, mezcal is any agave-based liquor. That means that all tequilas technically fall under the blanket of mezcal, but it does not, in turn, mean that all mezcals are tequilas.

Mezcal Categories

There are three legally defined categories of mezcal:

  • Mezcal
  • Artisanal Mezcal
  • Ancestral Mezcal

Each of these types of mezcal has a specific set of requirements attached, which allows for a clear definition of each type.

General Mezcal is the most modern of the three types. The Mezcal category rules allow for the use of industrialized techniques common in the tequila distillation process.

Artisanal Mezcal does not allow for the use of most modern tech. Instead, agave is harvested, mashed down by heavy stone mills, and distilled up to three times.

Ancestral Mezcal, on the other hand, is all about the process. The agave core is hand-crushed with wooden mallets, and the resulting mash is continuously tasted as it cooks down. Like Artisanal Mezcal, Ancestral may be distilled up to three times but is generally distilled twice.

Climate and Soil Influences

Tequila is only tequila if blue agave is the base, and it is distilled in the Mexican province of Jalisco. Mezcal, on the other hand, uses agave grown in Oaxaca, Guerrero, Puebla, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Durango, and San Luís Potosí.

The range of regions and agave plants brings a host of various flavors to mezcal. Sweet chocolate notes, hints of fruit, or mezcal’s infamous smoky taste result from different agave plants and climates, resulting in a range of mezcal types.

Tradition and Technique

The Artisanal and Ancestral mezcals still utilize traditional techniques to this day.

Hand mallets, earthen pots, and fire pits began the distillation techniques of mezcal and are still used in Ancestral mezcals today. The technique that goes into each batch of mezcal makes this liquor one of the most extreme examples of farm-to-bottle in the liquor industry.

Different Distilling Processes

Different distillation means different results.

Like tequila, different types of mezcal come from different distillation techniques. However, all mezcal ages in oak barrels, the length of time adds variety to the taste and results.

Joven is the “youngest” distillation process, not aged or aged up to two months.

Reposado is the middle ground, with the spirits aging for 2 to 12 months.

Anejo covers any mezcal that ages over one year.

Try Types of Mezcal at Taqueria 27

Ready to give mezcal a shot?

Stop in at one of Taqueria 27’s five locations. We have various types of mezcal for your sipping pleasure and a spectacular food menu to go along with your drinks.

We look forward to seeing you soon!