Mezcal vs Tequila – Difference and Comparison

What is Mezcal?

Mezcal is a type of alcoholic beverage that is made from the agave plant. The agave plant natively grows in the arid and semiarid parts of America, specifically Mexico and the Caribbean. The agave plant has over 200 species that are mostly used in the production of Mezcal drinks.

The agave plant can take up to 10 years to fully mature. It is a spiky plant that resembles a cactus. The preparation of the agave plant needs special knowledge and skills.

Once the plant is ripe, the harvester removes the leaves with a sharp tool to reveal the heart of the plant which is known as a pina.

The pinas are then roasted in underground fire pits. This is what gives mezcal its signature smoky flavor. The sugars are then extracted from the roasted agave plants by grounding using a mill.

The extract is then mixed with water and put into barrels to ferment. It is then distilled twice, blended to give a smooth drink, and either bottled or left to age in oak barrels.

The taste of Mezcal can vary because it can be made from 30 different types of agave plants. The taste will also depend on the age of the drink. Generally, mezcal tends to have a Smokey flavor.

What is Tequila?

Tequila is also a beverage that is made from the agave plant. However, tequila is different from mezcal, in that it is made from a specific type of agave plant, that is, the blue-agave.

The blue agave plant, also known as agave tequilana, is grown in specific parts of Mexico. It is one of the numerous species of the agave plant.

The harvesting process for the blue agave plant is similar to the one used when making Mezcal. However, that is where the similarity between the two ends, as the preparation processes, are vastly different.

The pina of the blue agave is steamed using an industrious oven. This initiates a chemical process that converts the complex carbohydrates in the pina into simple sugars that can be fermented.

Once the steaming process is complete, the pinas are crushed, milled to release the liquid, fermented, and then distilled two times. The liquid is then aged in oak barrels for a particular period of time.

The taste of tequila drinks is different depending on where the agave plants were grown and how long the beverage was aged.

Difference Between Mezcal and Tequila

  1. Mezcal is made from different types of agave plants, but tequila is specifically made from the blue agave plant.
  2. When making mezcal, the pina is roasted in underground pits but when making tequila, they are steamed in an industrious oven to help initiate a chemical process that converts the complex carbohydrates to simple sugars,
  3. Mezcal is often described as having a smokey, savory, and earthy taste. Tequila on the other hand is described as having a sweet, clean, and fruity taste.
  4. Mezcal has a higher alcohol content at about 55% while tequila has about 40% alcohol content.
  5. Mezcal is distilled in clay pots while tequila is distilled in copper pots.

Comparison Between Mezcal and Tequila

Parameters of comparisonmezcalTequila
Made fromDifferent types of the agave plantThe blue agave plant
Pina preparationRoasted in underground pitsSteamed using an industrious oven
tasteSmokey, savory, earthySweet, fruity, clean
Alcohol contentAbout 55%About 40%
DistillationDistilled in clay potsDistilled in copper pots

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168165611005426
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=pYXzA5V70woC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=tequila&ots=e9efB14SLw&sig=d8X-TmIPyIk1KTkMVn4iNZuAkto