In recent years mezcal has become increasingly popular in the US. You probably know it as ”tequila’s cousin” but what really is the difference between the two spirits? Both tequila and mezcal are made from agave, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
Tequila is actually a type of mezcal, much like hoe bourbon, for example, is a type of whiskey. Mezcal can be made from more than 30 varieties of agave, while tequila must be made from only blue agave, and only in specific regions of Mexico.
And what about the taste? Some people describe mezcal as smoky, but that isn’t accurate. The flavor of mezcal very much depends on the variety and the process of how the spirit was made. The most widespread variety in the US is espadín. Tobalá, arroqueño, tepeztate, and other sub-varietals are rarer, but also available in the US. If you want to make a cocktail with mezcal, it’s best to taste it on its own first, this will help you decide what flavors will complement it best: light and fruity or deep and complex.