Do you want to be a hit at your next dinner party? Tequila’s smoldering cousin, Mezcal is making its way across the nation as master mixologists favorite spirit in the development of inventive new cocktails. Made from the uber trendy agave plant, like its’ less smoky cousin Tequila, Mezcal differs as it can be made with one or more of 30 or so varieties of agave, excluding only the Blue Weber Agave found in tequila. With so many combinations this list will help as you plan your next Taco Tuesday with friends and family.
Laying the foundation of a great Mezcal is all about the preparation. Where the agave is definitely the star, the galaxy is in the prep. Mezcal is prepared in a basic 6 step process of:
The first two steps are the same whether you are preparing Modern, Artisanal, or Ancestral Mezcal as defined by the Consejo Regulador Del Mezcal (CRM), a not-for-profit private organisation that works closely with the government to enforce the rules that must be met by a labeled mezcal.
Mezcal can use one type or a combination of any of the 30 different varieties of agave that are approved by the CRM. With so many combinations of agave and the basic groundwork falling into three categories, finding the right Mezzi for you can be confusing. So I have narrowed it down to 5 varieties of Mezcal for you to begin with.
Espadin, the most common agave and accounting for about 90% of the Mezcals commonly seen, has a versatile taste varying by brand and is heavily dependent on the Mezcalero, or producer. Being closely related to the blue weber agave you find in tequila fans of traditional margaritas at your party will be wowed by what tastes like a top shelf tequila.
Tobala, the “king of mezcals”, is harvested in the wild making it a rare variety. Thriving in high altitude, rocky, shade covered areas the tobala relies on bats and birds to pollinate and keep the variety viable due to its inability to produce offspring. If your Taco Tuesday is on a budget then the Tobala Mezcal might not be the way to go as it is quite expensive no matter its foundation or Mezcalero
Tobaziche, from the Karwinskii family of agave, varies in flavor and is highly dependent on what region it came from. Several different types of agave in the Karwinskii family grow throughout the 9 wildly harvested regions of Mexico. Due to the divergence the Tobaziche should be served straight up as a savory note to your after dinner Cubin.
Tepeztate is the most elusive of the Mezcals and can take 30 years to reach maturity and is found in short supply. It is most recognizable because of its very large lemony blooms on top of its stem. Also harvested in the wild, this type of agave offers an intense flavor rich in aromatic goodness and if you can afford a bottle of this luxurious blend then perhaps it should stay inside the liquor cabinet.
Arroqueno is agave Americana. It is widely used by Mezcaleros and mass produced in the states. The flavors can vary but for the most part a nice Arroqueno is full of flowery yet spicy tones that lay over the top of an almost chocolaty foundation. Mid priced the Mezcal Americana can be found in most local ethnic restaurants serving authentic Mexican cuisine.
So, bring on the tacos and enjoy sampling the different Mezcals with friends at your fabulous feast and remember to always check your labels to make sure that your Mezcal is made with only agave, water and love.