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Difference Between Mescal and Tequila

Mescal vs Tequila

Mescal is an alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant of the Agavaceae plant family which is native to Mexico. Natives were drinking fermented beverages made from the maguey plant when the Spaniards came to their land. After a while they were able to create a distilled beverage which they called mescal.
It is made in Oaxaca from the heart of the maguey plant which is called the pina. The best mescal is made with the manso variety, but the espadin, arroquense, and tobala are also good. There are two types of mescal: those that are made with pure maguey and those that are made with 60% maguey and other ingredients.
Mescal has four categories:

White which is clear and not aged.
Dorado or golden which is mixed with a coloring agent and not aged.
Reposado or anejado which is aged in wooden barrels for two to nine months.
Anejo which is aged in wooden barrels for at least twelve months.

Tequila, on the other hand, is an alcoholic beverage that is made from the blue agave plant. It was first made in the 16th century in the place where the city of Tequila is located. Today it can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and some regions of the states of Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas.
Tequila is distilled twice and is smoother than mescal which is distilled only once. Like mescal, tequila also has two types: pure and mixed, and it has five categories:

Blanco (white) or Plata (silver), unaged or aged for two months in oak barrels.
Joven (young) or Oro (gold), a mixture of the Blanco and Reposado.
Reposado (rested), aged for two to less than a year in oak barrels.
Anejo (aged), aged for one to less than three years in oak barrels.
Extra anejo (extra aged), aged for at least three years in oak barrels.

While tequila is more popular, mescal is distinct because of the worm that can be found in the bottle that contains the beverage. This naturally occurs in some bottles, but producers have been known to put worms in the bottles to sell more of their products.
Tequila and mescal are also produced differently. In making mescal, the heart of the maguey plant is baked in a pit oven which is covered with layers of mat and earth while in making tequila, the heart of the blue agave plant is baked or steamed in ovens.
Summary:

1.Mescal is an alcoholic beverage made from different varieties of the agave or maguey plant while tequila is an alcoholic beverage made from the blue agave plant.
2.Mescal is distilled only once while tequila is distilled twice.
3.Mescal oftentimes contains edible worms which most producers put in the bottle to boost sales while tequila does not.
4.The heart of the agave plant is baked in a pit oven for mescal while it is baked or steamed in an oven located above the ground for tequila.


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1 Comment

  1. Couple things

    a) As a clarification, no decent producer of Oaxacan mescal will have worms in the bottles. The worm is only used as some sort of kitchy draw to the uneducated. Avoid any bottle with worms in it.

    b) The most interesting mescals tend to be blanco. The dorado, reposado and anejo versions of mescal take on too much wood, eliminating much of the interesting character of the various terroirs and maguey blends or varietals. It is not to say that the dorado, reposado or anejo versions are bad, but they do give up some interesting characteristics that will be replaced by a more western traditional liquor aged flavor.

    c) There are multi-distillation mescals, though (like many mescal production processes) this is not consistent even for producers. Artisanal mescal is still very much up to the whim of those running the palenque.

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