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Tequila vs Mescal


chow guy
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I have an audition for a film later today (as wild west bartender in 1880). Can anyone explain the line. "Tequila you boys would be wanting but you'll have to do with mescal". Is /was mescal like homemade tequila? Is it like rot gut? Any information would be helpful and appreciated. Thanks.

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The comparison of Tequila to Mescal is similar as the comparison of Cognac to Brandy.

Meaning... all Tequilas -are- Mescal, but all Mescals are not Tequila. Both are distilled spirit made from that Agave plant, but in order for it to be called Tequila it has to come from a very specific geographic region in Mexico, there are also some specifics about manufacturing.

It is a -very- unfair generalization Mescal as "rot gut". If somebody is making some "moonshine" product from agave in their garage, it would probably qualify as "rot-gut" Mescal, but the same could be said about whiskey, brandy, rum, vodka, etc. There are many Mescals which are far finer then many Tequilas.

-Robert

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"moonshine" product from agave in their garage, it would probably qualify as "rot-gut"

This is sort of tangential to the question asked.

There is a traditional Mexican, now often home fermented, beverage made from the juice of the century plant called "pulque". This is a sort of Agave wine. I don't think they started distilling this into a stronger spirit until after the Spanish arrived.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I think that the difference is mainly in the handling of the agave pina, regional differences aside. tequila is made from agave pinas that have been pressure cooked then crushed and fermented. Mezcaleros build a pit and roast the agave with a wood fire which imparts the classic smoky flavor that mezcals seem to have....at least this is how the thirsty traveler explained it. I'm learning to like mezcal, but i LOVE tequila :biggrin:

...and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce it tastes alot more like prunes than rhubarb does. groucho

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I'm learning to like mezcal...

While this thread is alive, any advice on a decent, not too pricey bottle of Mezcal?

I've been wanting to get one for home; but, don't know much about them other than some are horrible.

I assume I should avoid the ones with insects or insect larvae. Not that I have anything against pickled arthropods as food sources.

I understand the Del Maguey single village Mezcals, are very good; but, they are also very pricey.

BevMo has Don Amado Reposado and Tonayan Mezcal Anejo. Either of those any good? The Don Amado is described on the BevMo website as smooth and appears to be a reputable brand. The Tonayan as tasting of pears, wet cement, and flowers. Not sure how I feel about "wet cement".

:raz:

Erik

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sooo, I picked up a bottle of Don Amado Reposado Mezcal and gave it a try.

My initial thought was, hmmm..., I wish they had tasting rooms for these sorts of things, so I would know what I was in for. If only Tommy's wasn't so far out in the goddamn Richmond! Oh, yeah, tequila bar you can only get to by driving. That's a great idea.

Oops, I digress.

Big time Camphor odor and from the first taste I get what they mean by wet cement and pears. Still not sure how I feel about it. However, the odor and flavor does get inside your head.

Tastes nothing like any tequila I've ever had. There might be some sort of familial resemblance in flavor profile. Nothing easy to pin down. For tequila I stick with Herradura and Sauza. I can't imagine this stuff in any cocktail known to man. Perhaps the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster...

The second time I try it I begin to detect a sour component to the taste or aftertaste, which I imagine might connect it to its roots in Pulque. As a straight liquor, it is fairly smooth, despite the unusual flavor. On the whole, just about the weirdest thing I've put in my mouth recently. And it didn't even have a worm.

Erik

fixed spelling

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Sooo, I picked up a bottle of Don Amado Reposado Mezcal and gave it a try.

My initial thought was, hmmm..., I wish they had tasting rooms for these sorts of things, so I would know what I was in for.  If only Tommy's wasn't so far out in the goddamn Richmond!  Oh, yeah, tequila bar you can only get to by driving.  That's a great idea.

Oops, I digress.

Big time Camphor odor and from the first taste I get what they mean by wet cement and pears.  Still not sure how I feel about it.  However, the odor and flavor does get inside your head.

Tastes nothing like any tequila I've ever had.  There might be some sort of familial resemblance in flavor profile.  Nothing easy to pin down.  For tequila I stick with Herradura and Sauza.  I can't imagine this stuff in any cocktail known to man.  Perhaps the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster...

The second time I try it I begin to detect a sour component to the taste or aftertaste, which I imagine might connect it to its roots in Pulque.  As a straight liquor, it is fairly smooth, despite the unusual flavor.  On the whole, just about the weirdest thing I've put in my mouth recently.  And it didn't even have a worm.

Erik

fixed spelling

Maybe only Monte Alban mezcal has the worm. I love Sauza 3 Generations tequila but have never investigated mezcal as it seems too putrid (Monte Alban). I'll have to look for better mezcal (when not driving). :laugh:

Thanks,

K

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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Caballeros Inc. imports up to 10 brands of 100% agave Mezcals from Oaxaca, Mexico.

Among them is award winning SCORPION MEZCAL, which Yes, it does have a (FDA approved) scorpion in each bottle instead of the worm. Scorpion Mezcal is aged up to 7 years in Oak, and is artisan made. Scorpion Mezcal tastes to me more like a scotch than a tequila. Slighly smokey flavor and very very very smooth, even the Silver. Scorpion Anejo 1 year got Spirit of the Year from Food & Wine Magazine and has been rated in the 'mid 90's with gold awards from Beverage Testing Institute.

The worm in Mezcals (and is only in Mezcal, not Tequila) is typically only found in Silver or Reposado Mezcals, not the Anejos. The worm actually adds a unique flavor to the spirit. In Oaxaca, the site of your best Mezcals and one of the 3 states that can legally produce Mezcal, they take the worms and roast them, grind them up and add salt, "worm salt". They use the worm salt when drinking Mezcal. Scorpion Mezcal is better sipped like a scotch and does not require salt and lemon, but of course you can use it. The Scorpion does not add any flavor at all, it is the exo-skeleton only and is harmless. Mezcals also mix well with the following:

Kahlua, Grapefruit soda, tropical juices such as passion and mango juices, orange, condensed Milk (makes a nice crema). In Oaxaca, there are a number of fruit flavored Mezcals which are not available in the US yet.

Mezcal was recently awarded Domination of Origin status, like Tequila and Cognac. As of Feb, 2005, the industry is highly regulated and all Mezcal must:

Be made only from government certified barrels and equipment

Can be made from up to 18 varieties of Agave (Tequila can only be made from 1 variety)

Be made in only 3 Mexican States, Oaxaca being the main state

All Anejo Mezcals must be aged in certified barrels.

Manufacturers must also receive a certification number

New labeling information in Mexico and USA must be met

Additionally, there are 2 levels of Mezcal.

The first is 100% Agave level

Second level Mezcal can be diluted 20% with other alcohol sugars. Tequilas simialar level can be cut up to 49% other alcohols. The "other" alcohols are most likely the reason that some Mezcals and also Tequilas are sometimes referred to as "rot gut". I will only drink 100% agaves, Tequilas and Mezcals. If it does not specifically say 100% agave on the label, it isn't.

All Mezcals must be bottled in Mexico. 85% of your Tequila is shipped out in containers in bulk.

Scorpion Mezcals range in price from $35-$240. They are at the higher end of the spectrum and worth every drop. The other brands we import include a number of Silvers, Reposados and Anejos. The brands are Embajador, Mistico, Oro de Oaxaca, Tehuana, Don Juan Escobar, Don Ausencio ++. Anejo Mezcals will be harder to find in the next few years because all of the producers have to start over again, aging in certified barrels. Thus, Scorpion Anejo 3 year, when our US supply is gone, it will be 3 years etc. before there will be another shipment. Same with our 1 year, 5 and 7 year Anejos.

I hope this helps bring more information to the table regarding this subject.

Barbara Sweetman

VP Caballeros, Inc.

www.Mezcals.com

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Excellent post and very informative. I will have to be on the look out for a top-shelf mezcal and sample it next to the Three Generations tequila.

Thanks for the mini-tutorial!!

Kevin

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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If you happen to be in the NYC area on Cinco de Mayo, FestUSA is putting on a tasting event "Spirits of Mexico" at Grand Central Station and also in San Diego in Sept - Tequilas and Mezcals

Thursday May 5, Metrazur, NYC

Friday September 9, The Prado, San Diego

www.festusa.com

Good opportunies to taste all these fine spirits, meet experts and gain valuable tasting information.

Barbara

Caballeros Inc.

Excellent post and very informative.  I will have to be on the look out for a top-shelf mezcal and sample it next to the Three Generations tequila.

Thanks for the mini-tutorial!!

Kevin

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had the pleasure of tasting scorpion mezcal at the Taste of Wall Street Event where they had a table next to mine. Really excellent stuff. A friend of mine bought back some "super premium" tequila from Mexico for me and it wasn't as good as the scorpion mezcal I tried (silver). :biggrin:

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