Mezcal, the trendiest drink in Mexico

By Valeria Bigurra Peñavera

For some time now, mezcal has become more and more popular within the national and international public.

mezcalOriginal Image: “the black ant mezcal” by Krista, used under CC BY 2.0 license, via Flickr.

This is because many bars called "mezcalerías" have opened their doors, offering nice places and a relaxed atmosphere to which you can go to have a good time with friends, plus it is now easier to get it in specialty stores and also in supermarkets.

The taste of mezcal is very particular, and like tequila is distilled from agave, and although at first this liquor was considered a drink for workers and peasants, was gradually gaining prestige due to its organic and handmade creation.

Unlike tequila agave can come from many different kinds of agave, it is extracted from the heart of the plant, and is then subjected to a process of craftsmanship.

agave plantsOriginal Image: “Agave plants, Mexico” by Kat Grigg, used under CC BY-ND 2.0 license, via Flickr.

To get the mezcal the first step is to cut the leaves and the root of the agave to get the heart or pineapple, and then they must obtain the sugars that come from the agave using stone ovens and underground warming with thick woods.

Once cooked the hearts of the agaves, are cut again into smaller pieces to place them in a Chilean mill, which is usually a circular mill of stone or cement in which turns another stone grinding of about 500 kilos.

The crushing and milling agave is placed in containers to be fermented for several days, a process that ends with the cooking of the agave. After that, the last step is the separation of solid matter and liquid of the tepache from the fermentation step, subjecting it to heat, which causes evaporation of alcohol and impurities, and this is known as distillation.

agave pineapplesOriginal Image: “Agave” by Aaron Rodriguez, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license, via Flickr.

According to the website of Todo Mezcal, "the elaboration of mezcal is a purely traditional, artisanal and organic process, developed by people who have received knowledge from generation to generation by word and practice. The Mezcaleros Teachers and all those involved in the production of mezcal are people who are born, grow and live with everything that involves the mezcal ".

It is noteworthy that the mezcal can only be produced in eight states of Mexico: Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacan, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Durango, San Luis Potosi and Tamaulipas.

agave sugarOriginal Image: “agave” by Liliane Polak, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license, via Flickr.

Mezcal is also categorized into three broad families depending on their aging time, the younger the "Mezcal Blanco" then there is the "Mezcal Reposado" and finally the "Mezcal Añejo", and it is noteworthy that the quality of each mezcal depends on the plant, soil and other factors of its production.

Finally if you ever decide to try mezcal you must know that its taste can sometimes be a little difficult for the palate of some people, which is why many prefer to take it alone, accompanied by orange slices to balance the flavor, and others choose to mix it in a cocktail, which sometimes potentiates its flavor.

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