Smoky, bold and resinous: this is the answer to the question "What does mezcal taste like". But there is much more to this drink than an exquisite taste. The best Mezcal are elaborately made with a large portion of manual work to bring out an inimitable aroma. They are based on traditional recipes and manufacturing processes that go back centuries. Mezcal is a piece of Mexico, a piece of history and a piece of quality of life. It's time to rediscover this time-honoured drink.
Back to the roots: Mezcal as the original form of tequila
The Mexican spirit Mezcal is made from fermented, cooked hearts of the agave. That's why the spirit got its name. In the Nahuatl Aztec language, "mezcalli from metl" means agave and "ixcalli" means boiled. This results in cooked agave. It is now manufactured in nine Mexican states, with the main focus on Oaxaca. The high-proof drink is the archetypal form of tequila, as a wide variety of agave species can be used to make mezcal. This is exactly where the distinction to tequila lies, because the distilleries are only allowed to use Agave tequilana Weber for it. Anyone who sees a flaw in this is showing ignorance: Excellent Mezcal is a quality product that does not have to hide behind any single malt. And let's clear up another prejudice at this point. The worm in some Mezcal is just a marketing gimmick and not a sign of quality - quite the opposite.
Mezcal: the traditional hipster with an Aztec soul
The history of Mezcal goes back to the Aztecs before Spanish colonization in the 15th century. From weddings to funerals: over the centuries, agave spirits have been part of every social event. It is all the more astonishing that mezcal has only slowly been gaining the recognition it deserves worldwide since the 1990s. On the one hand, this is thanks to the strict, official regulations on mezcal that have been passed since the 1990s. On the other hand, more and more excellent distilleries were popping up that took on the rough, traditional drink. Today they bring out a first-class mezcal that has long had a secure place at the bar in trendy bars around the world.
How is Mezcal drunk?
Mexicans drink their mezcal neat, appreciating its smoky flavor and sipping thoughtfully at this fermented agave heart. If you like, you can add fruit or spices to the fine indulgence, which harmonize with the smoke aroma par excellence. Most mezcal comes from the region around the city of Oaxaca, where a combination of the drink with orange and roasted locusts is popular. If this seems too strange, snack on a lime and the Sal de Gusano. The latter spice consists mainly of chili salt and the powder of the dried, crushed agave caterpillars. The European connoisseur often likes to stay with the pure, pure pleasure without spicy side dishes, which is nothing to object to. If you want to use the spirit primarily for mixing cocktails, you should reach for Espadin Mezcal.
Different agave hearts beat for the Mezcal
Mezcal can be distilled from any Mexican agave variety. For this reason, a breathtaking variety of flavors is achieved, because the respective microclimate affects the aroma. There's no question: anyone who discovers Mezcal for themselves will never get bored. Quality-conscious distilleries have recognized the possibilities and rely on exciting agave varieties such as Agave Coyote (agave karwinskii latrans) or Agave Espadín (agave angustifolia).
The best mezcal: quality levels and product classes
Global spirits sales amount to 35 billion liters. Gin alone accounts for 820 million liters of this, while mezcal is only represented with six million liters. This makes it a real gem. The quality of the drink is supported by the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal, which issued new regulations for three hierarchical Mezcal categories in 2016/17:
- Mezcal Industrial: Production using modern mechanical processes
- Mezcal Artesanal: mostly handmade
- Mezcal Ancestral: completely original and without electricity
Around 86% of the Artesanal class, 13% Industrial and 1% Ancestral are exported.
In addition, there are official product classes that are based on the degree of maturity:
- Joven/Blanco: white Mezcal with a maximum storage period of two months
- Reposado: Aging for at least 60 days in wooden barrels
- Añejo: Storage period at least one year
- Abocado: short-ripened Mezcal, subsequent processing with coloring or flavorings
It is noteworthy that Joven accounts for the majority of the goods produced, at 81%. This is followed by the reposado with 7% and the añejo with 2%. Why? The answer lies in botany. Mezcal is so complex that it is ready to drink after around seven years of natural aging. Storage is not necessary to have a flawless, full taste experience.
Mezcal: an economic engine of a region
The majority of Mezcal comes from the state of Oaxaca, where around 35,000 families live directly or indirectly from it. It has developed into a real economic factor, although the harvesting of the agaves and the production of the finished drink requires a lot of hard physical work. The yields it generates feed entire villages – especially when they come from production that pays fair wages. Many of the mezcaleros are not greedy, only producing a few hundred liters of mezcal per month. They know about the risks that overproduction would entail for the environment and ultimately for people.
No chance for excess and carelessness
Sustainability is the keyword of our new millennium - also with regard to Mezcal production. The increase in importance of the drink on the world market could lead to the expansion of monocultures and the overharvesting of wild stocks. Responsible Mezcaleros therefore rely on sustainable cultivation and fair prices for the workers. They ensure that our descendants can still enjoy this clear, full-bodied drink. In this way, Mezcal becomes a spirit that stands for harmony, environmental awareness and progress with a firm eye on old traditions.
Noble Coyote: the best of the wild
There is something mystical and rudimentary about the production of mezcal. Nevertheless, or perhaps because of this, with a lot of expertise, experience and passion, a spirit can be created that is full of robust exclusivity. That's exactly what Noble Coyote does. Under this distinctive name, distinctive, elegant Mezcal are brought out that pamper the palate. As a responsible company, the different variants of Mezcal from Noble Coyote meet high standards in terms of sustainability. In addition, the company shows its high quality in the product focus: It concentrates on pure agave spirits.
Feel the true soul of Mexico
Mezcal is the true soul of Mexico. It is full-bodied like a single malt and diverse like the world of wines. Its originality and authenticity fascinates, enchants and seduces. However, as with everything beautiful in life, there is also a downside to mezcal. By drinking responsibly and choosing a mezcal from sustainable cultivation, this treasure can be enjoyed carefree. Has your curiosity been aroused? Embark on a culinary adventure trip to Mexico!