The traditional Mexican drink Mezcal has probably been around for more than 10,000 years! Due to different preparation methods, but also due to the respective agave species, the aroma or taste can vary individually. Since Mezcal is still mainly made by hand in the countries where the agaves originated, it is considered to be of particularly high quality and value. For the mezcal, the pine cone or pineapple-like core of the mostly ripe agaves is used. This has actually been referred to as the piña (Spanish for pineapple) or heart of the agave by the locals since time immemorial.
Among the different types of agaves there are some special types, some of which still grow wild and are used for the finest mezcals. For example, the Agave potatorum forms the basis for our popular Tobala . The semi-wild agave karwinski latrans is used to make our Mezcal Coyote .
From boiling the kernels to the finished mezcal
The freshly harvested seeds, freed from the leaves, are boiled for 3 to 5 days in a large earth oven equipped with hot stones. In this, the agave seeds are simply placed on the heated stones and carefully covered. Already at this point, the firewood used develops a pleasantly smoky aroma, which gradually passes into the agave hearts during the long cooking process.
After a rest period of about a week, the seeds of the agave are crushed, which is still done in the villages by hand or in special horse-drawn stone mills. Next, the crushed kernels undergo a careful fermentation or natural fermentation process. This takes place in special wooden containers, in which additional comminuted sugar cane and certain yeasts and bacteria support the fermentation. This mixture of agaves, sugar cane and microorganisms ferments in these airtight containers for several weeks.
Industrially produced Mezcal is also subjected to this fermentation process. However, this takes place in metal containers and with the help of individual breeding yeasts. This has the advantage that fermentation starts faster and the risk of incorrect fermentation is minimized. However, all this is at the expense of the unique taste and quality of the fermentation juice. Industrial mezcal is therefore not comparable to traditionally produced mezcal.
After the fermentation is complete, the Mezcal has to be filtered and usually distilled twice. Only through the second distillation process is a fairly high alcohol content of up to 50% achieved. If necessary, this high-proof Mezcal is then diluted with water.
By the way: Tequila is - apart from a few differences - made in almost the same way as Mezcal, with one major exception: While different types of agave can be used to make Mezcal, only one type of agave is used for tequila, namely Agave tequilana , used.
Unique: The heart of the blue agave
It's actually quite simple: In principle, every tequila is also a mezcal, but not every mezcal is also a tequila. If you want to buy a mezcal, then you have a wider range of agave flavors available than if you buy a tequila. However, this in turn has a unique taste – provided that it is of high quality.
The wide range of possible agave species makes every Mezcal unique in terms of taste. Because each species has its individual aroma, which it gives off to the fermenting agave juice. Only the heart of the blue agave is used for the tequila and also gives it its very special, inimitable aroma.
Another difference between these two Mexican trend spirits relates to their origin :
Although mezcal is often produced around the city or region around Oaxaca and sold from there, it can in principle be produced in all states of Mexico. Here, too, the tequila from the agave tequilana plant plays a special role. Because it may only be produced in the state of Jalisco, in the region around the city of the same name, Tequila.
The Origin of Mezcal and Tequila
It didn't take long for a special species of agave - the agave tequilana plant - to attract attention with its unique aroma. It doesn't only grow in the immediate vicinity of what later became the small town of Tequila. But these plants, also known as Blue Weber Agaves, have only been widespread there for a long time. The heart of the blue agave was even considered a culinary delicacy there. Therefore, even today, a real tequila must come from this region.
What is the blue agave?
The leaves of the blue agave, which are up to 120 centimeters long and have a terminal spine, have a pretty, blue-green colour, just like their flowers. These plants owe their name “Blue Agave” to this striking coloration. The impressive flowers of this blue agave only appear once in their life – namely shortly before the plants die off.
Cultivation of the blue weaver agave
Unfortunately, growing in monocultures also has some disadvantages. While plants growing in a mixed culture support each other in the fight against pests and are generally less sensitive to the weather, agaves from a monoculture are considered to be very susceptible. The wild, intermixing, mixed-growing crops used for different types of mezcal benefit from their genetic diversity. The tequila from the sensitive Blue Weber agaves is a very special mezcal in every respect.