Beyond the Wine Aisle

What is Mezcal?

What is Mezcal - courtesy of Scorpion Mezcal

Mezcal, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from agave plants that are native to Mexico. The word 'mezcal' comes from the indigenous language Nahuatl 'mexcalmetl,' which means agave or maguey that has been cooked. This sweet cooked agave is mashed, fermented and double distilled to make MEZCAL.

Mezcal also has a magic and religious connotation within Mexican culture. It is recognized as an excellent world quality distilled beverage, thanks to its fine aromas, unique flavors and high quality. In the nineteenth century, colonial aristocrats liked Mezcal so much that they used to call it 'Mexican Cognac', because of its exquisite and delicious flavors.

The agave plant was revered throughout ancient Mexico. It provided alcohol, food, firewood, medicine, building materials and fiber for cloth and rope. Agaves are succulents that have approximately 180 varieties that are native to Mexico which grow throughout the county. In Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico, they use the term 'maguey' to refer to the agave plants. There are about 28 varieties of agave that have the sugar content necessary for producing distilled spirits, ie. Mezcal. Most mezcal is made in the state of Oaxaca.

There are several theories as to the origin of mezcal distillation. This is an unknown world with a long history, Pre Columbian maybe BC. The origins of this ancient product took centuries to develop, and research show traces of this development in many parts of Mexico.

Imagine if the tortilla took 800 years to develop once people started to eat corn, how long did it take to develop distilled spirits? No matter how long it took, these crafty indigenous people did it. Mezcal is the oldest distilled spirit in North America.

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