Rather than the debauched, supposedly hallucinogenic appeal of mezcal, it is in fact one of the great spirits, as long as you buy at the top end - there's perhaps no spirit which increases so much in quality with price. On a warm Friday evening in Seattle, a few of us, led by mezcal enthusiast @drinkaddition, tested five different mezcals side by side; we were expecting quality, but were blown away by the diversity and depth of flavours.
how is it different from tequila?Tequila must come from around the towns of Tequila and Guadalajara and be made from the blue agave. Mezcal can come from a wider range of places in Mexico (though usually Oaxaca) and be made from the maguey plant, a form of agave and of which there are many varieties. At the cheaper end of the spectrum, this means a much lower level of quality control; for more expensive mezcal, it allows a greater expression of flavours from the plant, the production, and the region. Mezcal undergoes roughly the same production process as tequila, but the plant is roasted in underground ovens, which imparts serious smoky, earthy aromas.
|the line up|
|Mezcal Vago Espadin|
|Pierde Almas Espadin|
Five mezcals, from three agave varieties and three producers: this is a diverse, sometimes extraordinary drink. Del Maguey proved why they have the leading international reputation but the whole tasting emphasised that good mezcal is well worth seeking out. It's expensive, but for a good reason.