It is undoubtedly straightforward to assume mezcal as an umbrella term for all agave-based spirits. Broadly like whiskey is an umbrella term for Scotch or bourbon, mezcal covers many liquors, including tequila.
Mexicans believe mezcal to be an element of their cultural inheritance as, for centuries, the spirit has been essential to many events within the indigenous communities. The classic production techniques and recipes have been safely safeguarded and passed from generation to generation.
Finding authentic mezcal in your neighborhood can be a little challenging, as most mezcal producers are small, family-run operations that are not distributed widely. Yet, with thorough research and a keen palate, you can find some genuinely excellent mezcals in your area. Here are a few recommendations to help you find authentic mezcal in your neighborhood:
What is Mezcal?
A traditional Mexican spirit made from the heart of the agave plant is known as Mezcal. It is famous for its smoky, earthy flavor and its unique production process, which includes cooking the agave in underground pits and distilling the resulting juice in small batches.
What are the critical aspects of finding authentic mezcal?
Look for the Certification
Firstly, find a mezcal that is certified by the Mexican government. The Mexican government has established a certification process for mezcal that intends to protect the traditional production methods of this spirit. Look for bottles that have the "D.O. Mezcal" label, which indicates that the mezcal has been certified by the Mexican government.
Use of wild agave
Secondly, when finding authentic mezcal, check for mezcals made from wild agave. Many mezcal producers use wild agave plants, as they are known to produce a more accurate and flavorful mezcal. Therefore see bottles that list the type of agave utilized in making the mezcal and for wild agave varieties.
Small batch mezcals
Several mezcal producers make their spirits in small batches, using traditional methods and equipment, which results in mezcals that often have a more complex and nuanced flavor than mass-produced mezcals.
Visit local specialty liquor stores
Many specialty liquor stores have a wide selection of mezcals, and the staff can often provide valuable information about different mezcals and their producers. Therefore visiting such stores will help you in finding the best mezcal.
Mezcal tastings and events
Another aspect of finding the best mezcal is to attend local mezcal tastings or events. Several cities host mezcal tastings and events where you can try different mezcals and discover more about this traditional spirit.
Taste and aroma
When experimenting with a new Mezcal, pay attention to the aroma and taste of the spirit. Authentic Mezcal possesses a smoky aroma and a rich, complex flavor balanced by a hint of sweetness. The best mezcals will also carry a long, smooth finish that lingers on the palate.
Region of production
Another essential factor to look out for is the region of production. Due to the production of Mezcal in nine states of Mexico, each state has its unique characteristics and flavor profiles. For example, Mezcal produced in Oaxaca is known for its smoky and rich flavor, while Mezcal made in Durango is known for its fruity and floral notes.
How to drink Mezcal?
When you think about drinking Mezcal, it does not depend on where it comes from or what it’s made up of; try extra smokey, tart, spicy, or herbal. Mezcal is a fast-growing favorite among bartenders and cocktail lovers because you can drink it in every way you want.
Mezcal also compliments classic tequila cocktails such as margaritas or Palomas, but if you want to get more inventive, try a mezcal negroni, a margarita-esque mezcal, or mezcal and tonic to spice things up.
Mezcal’s bold flavor makes it the best choice for sipping neat or on the rocks. Most of the favorite mezcals are exceptional spirits that can compete with any fine scotch or cognac, so it is always suitable to at least taste first before mixing cocktails.
In conclusion, finding authentic mezcal in your neighborhood may require effort and a keen palate, but the effort is well worth it. Look for mezcal certified by the Mexican government, made from wild agave, produced in small batches, and made by a Maestro Mezcalero.