Agave Spirits - Tequila, technically a Mezcal, is only made with Blue Weber agaves.
Whereas mezcal can be produced from up to 50 species of the agave plant. Mezcal is protected by a denomination of origin or “DOM, " meaning it can only be made in certain areas of Mexico: Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Michoacan, Guerrero, Durango, Tamaulipas, Puebla, Zacatecas, and Guanajuato. Mainly, the production of Mezcal takes place in Oaxaca. Also, the ABV has to be between 36% and 55% and can only be made from 100% agave with no additives or other products.
Some spirits are produced by non-traditional means and thus are not technically a mezcal, such as Raicilla, Sotol, and Bacanora. Beyond that, some brands, such as Real Minero (previously Mezcal Real Minero), choose not to go through the certification process or do not fall within DOM specifications.
Mezcal and Distilado de Agave are both agave spirits, but they have some differences in terms of production methods and regional regulations. Here's a comparison between the two:
Mezcal: Mezcal is traditionally produced through a labor-intensive and artisanal process. The heart of the agave plant, known as the piña, is cooked in underground pits lined with rocks and heated with firewood. This gives mezcal its characteristic smoky flavor. After cooking, the piñas are crushed, fermented, and then distilled in clay or copper pots.
Distilado de Agave: Distilado de Agave is a more modern approach to agave spirits production. The piñas are usually cooked in above-ground ovens, often made of stainless steel or brick. This results in a cleaner and less smoky flavor compared to mezcal. The crushed piñas are fermented and then distilled in copper or stainless steel stills.
Mezcal: Mezcal can be made from various types of agave plants, including Espadín (the most common), Tobalá, Madrecuixe, and many others. Different agave varieties contribute to the unique flavors and characteristics of mezcal.
Distilado de Agave: Distilado de Agave can also be made from different agave species, but there are often restrictions on the type of agave that can be used. For example, some regional regulations may limit production to a specific agave variety or a few select varieties.
Mezcal: Mezcal production is primarily associated with the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, and others. The region of Oaxaca is particularly renowned for its mezcal production and has a designated Denomination of Origin (DO) for mezcal.
Distilado de Agave: Distilado de Agave is produced in various regions of Mexico, but there isn't a specific DO for it like there is for mezcal. Some regions, such as Jalisco, produce both mezcal and distilado de agave.
Mezcal: Mezcal has stricter regulations and a designated DO, which ensures that it meets certain quality standards and is produced in specific regions using traditional methods. Mezcal labels often bear a holographic seal to certify its authenticity.
Distilado de Agave: The regulations for distilado de agave can vary depending on the specific region and the governing bodies involved. Some distilado de agave may adhere to certain quality standards or production guidelines, but they are generally less regulated than mezcal.
It's worth noting that mezcal has gained more international recognition and popularity in recent years, while distilado de agave is still developing its presence outside of Mexico. Both spirits offer a range of flavors and profiles, making them enjoyable for enthusiasts of agave-based beverages.