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What's The Difference Between Tequila & Mezcal?

tequila, tequila bar

Aah tequila, the spirit that brings life to any party. For many, this popular tipple is the elixir of the gods. The same way that bacon goes with eggs, tequila goes with any festivity. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know what tequila is. But, do you know what mezcal is?

The Differences Between Tequila & Mezcal

This may sound confusing, but not all mezcals are actually tequilas, whereas all tequilas are in fact mezcals. Yup, confusing we know, but let's explain.

Mezcal is a broader category that includes all types of agave-based spirits. Tequila is a specific type of mezcal, made from the blue agave plant. Think of it this way - the same way that bourbon and scotch is a type of whiskey, tequila is a type of mezcal.

Made with Different Types of Agave

As we mentioned earlier, tequila is produced by using the blue agave plant. Mezcal on the other hand, is produced by using any of the other agave plants. There are around 30 different types of agave plants that can be used to make mezcal. The most common type of agave used in production is the espadín agave. If fact, it makes up about 90% of mezcal. Some of the other common varieties of agave that are used are arroqueño, tobalá, tepeztate and tobaziche.

Distilled Differently

While they are both made by harvesting the piña, the core of the agave plant, they are distilled differently.

Tequila is made by the agave being steamed within industrial ovens, following which it is distilled in copper pots (usually two or three times), mezcal is distilled differently. It is most usually cooked within earthen pits. Each is lined with lava rocks, with charcoal and wood being added before it is distilled in clay pots.

Produced in Different Regions

Tequila must be made in the state of Jalisco or limited municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Mezcal can be produced in nine states including Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Oaxaca (where most mezcals are made), Zacatecas, Michoacán, Guanajuato, and Puebla.

How Are They Aged?

As we mentioned above, both are distilled differently. How are they aged though? Both processes involve barrels, with slight differences in how they are aged.

What does it mean to age spirits?

It's not only whiskey that is aged. When a spirit is aged, it is placed into wooden barrels where it will sit for a period of time. This process allows the spirit to take on different flavors from the wood it is resting in. The type of wood used, as well as how long the spirit is left to age, will determine what kind of final product you'll get.

How it tequila aged?

This depends on the type of tequila that you are making. Silver (or blanco) is aged for between a few days to two months. Reposado is aged for two to twelve months, while Anejo is usually aged for anywhere between one and three years. You will immediately taste the difference between these three.

How is mezcal aged?

Joven mezcal ages for between a few days and two months, while Reposado is between two and twelve months, and Anejo is aged for at least one year.

How Does The Taste Differ?

The taste of tequila and mezcal can differ significantly. Tequila is often described as being smooth, with a sweet taste. It is often served with salt and lime to enhance the flavor. Mezcal, on the other hand, can be quite smoky and earthy, with a strong agave flavor. It is often served with orange slices and a chili pepper called a chiltepín.

Any good tequila bar will be able to talk you through the differences in taste.

Worth trying something new

So there you have it - the key differences between tequila and mezcal! As you can see, there are quite a few variations between the two, so it's important to know what you're looking for before you make your choice. Mezcal is definitely worth a try if you're looking for something a little different.

At Tequila Sunrise Mexican Grill, we take our tequila and mezcal seriously. That's why we are the hottest Mexican restaurant in Fort Lauderdale! If you haven't given us a try yet, why not stop over at 4711 N Dixie Highway Oakland Park, FL, to find out for yourself why we are the favorite tequila bar in the area!

Here are a few reasons why you need to visit us:

  • We serve the best margaritas in Fort Lauderdale

  • Taco Tuesday is a real thing!

  • Quench your thirst with our various thirsty Thursday specials

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