Improved Mezcal Norms in the Works

Maguey field in guerrero

I consider myself more knowledgeable about tequila and mezcal than your average gringa, but I felt out of my depth during today’s fascinating interview with mezcal expert Clayton Szczech. Szczech is the owner of Experience Tequila and Experience Mezcal  and has published a series of well-written and extremely informative articles on potential changes in the norm for mezcal labeling, a process “that would take major steps toward elevating the status of artisanal mezcal and its producers by means of some […]

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Seven Common Misconceptions about Tequila and Mezcal

A pile of agave cores, ready to be roasted for mezcal.

Tequila and mezcal are made from “cactus juice.” Agave is not a cactus, but rather a member of the botanical order Asparagales, which includes asparagus and narcissus. (Native to the New World, the genus Agave is exceedingly diverse, with well over 100 varieties in Mexico alone.) Mezcal is a type of Tequila. If you want to get down to brass tacks (and I think you do), Tequila is a variation on mezcal, or distilled agave spirits. Mexican laws about the […]

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Book Review: Alcohol in Ancient Mexico

I am not a big online shopper and I rarely have spare money, but there was no way I could restrain myself from ordering a book called Alcohol in Ancient Mexico. I’m sorry, but even I can’t actually come up with a title better aimed to entrap me. Cheese in Ancient Mexico comes close, but would of course have to be a fantasy, since obviously dairy products were not a part of the ancient Mexican diet. Not to, uh, sound […]

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Roasted Hearts and Winding Roads: Adventures in Oaxaca's Mezcal Country

A cask of mezcal marked with agave picture.

The wooden cask reads “Reserva de los Dioses”, or “Reserve of the Gods”. Indeed. At a mezcal distillery in the highlands of Oaxaca, an erudite, well-dressed man is pouring generous shots of liquor into real glasses. He looks to be in his mid thirties and says he has been in the mezcal business for 12 years. He learned from his father, who has been in the business for 40 years. The father sits in the shade of their roadside shack. […]

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