The Difference between Mezcal and Tequila

Mezcal and Tequila, both distilled from agave, are distinctly different Mexican spirits. The primary difference lies in the type of agave used and their production methods. Tequila is made exclusively from blue agave and typically has a smoother profile. Mezcal, on the other hand, can be produced from over 30 varieties of agave, imparting a broader and often smokier flavor due to its traditional underground roasting process.

Mezcal vs Tequila: A Detailed Comparison

Dive into the distinct realms of Mezcal and Tequila as we compare their characteristics side by side. From the regions they hail from to their nuanced flavors and cultural significance, this table uncovers what sets these two celebrated Mexican spirits apart.

Aspect Mezcal Tequila
Region of Origin Mainly Oaxaca, also Durango, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi Primarily Jalisco, also Nayarit, Guanajuato
Agave Variety Over 30 types, including Espadin, Tobalá, Tepeztate Exclusively Blue Agave
Flavor Profile Smoky, sweet, floral undertones Smoother, sweet, slightly herbal notes
Production Process Artisanal, traditional underground roasting Industrial, above-ground ovens, modernized techniques
Distillation Small batches, clay pots/copper stills Larger scale, stainless steel columns, continuous stills
Cocktail Pairings Mezcal Mule, Mezcal Sour, Oaxaca Old Fashioned Tequila Mojito, Tequila Bloody Mary, Jalisco Mule
Denomination of Origin DO extends to several states DO primarily encapsulates Jalisco
Aging Process Joven, Reposado, Añejo (varied durations) Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, Extra Añejo (specific durations)
Cultural Significance Spiritually significant, experiencing rapid growth in popularity Historically festive, evolving into a premium beverage market

Blue Agave Plant

Top 10 Questions Distinguishing Two Iconic Spirits

Let’s dive into the 10 essential queries that reveal the unique characteristics of these iconic spirits, offering clarity and insight into their distinct worlds.

What Flavor Profile Distinguishes the Two Celebrated Spirits?

Mezcal boasts a complex, smoky flavor, standing in contrast to Tequila’s smoother, sweeter profile with hints of fruitiness.

Is Mezcal Stronger than Tequila?

Typically, Mezcal showcases a higher alcohol content, often ranging between 45-55%, whereas Tequila generally hovers around 40-50%.

Does the Traditional Mexican Beverages tast different?

Absolutely, Mezcal presents a distinctive smoky flavor, diverging sharply from Tequila’s slightly sweeter and simpler taste.

Why is Tequila More Popular than Mezcal?

Historically, Tequila has gained more popularity, primarily due to its early and significant branding efforts and established global presence.

Can You Drink Mezcal Like Tequila?

Indeed, you can enjoy Mezcal in various ways, but traditionally, it’s best savored slowly to fully appreciate its complex flavor profile, whereas Tequila is commonly enjoyed in cocktails.

Is Mezcal Smokier than Tequila?

Certainly, Mezcal’s unique underground roasting process imparts a more pronounced smoky flavor compared to Tequila.

What are the Health Benefits of the Mexican Liqours?

Both Mezcal and Tequila offer healthful attributes like prebiotics; however, moderation remains key to enjoy their benefits without adverse effects.

Why Does Some Mezcal Contain a Worm but Tequila Does Not?

Interestingly, the “worm” in some Mezcal bottles is a marketing tool, signifying a larva that infests agave plants, a feature not traditionally found in Tequila.

What are the Price Differences between the Agave-Distilled Delights?

Mezcal’s pricing, often reflecting its handcrafted nature, can be higher. However, Tequila also spans a range from budget-friendly to high-end, especially for aged variants.

How Do the Aging Processes Differ Between The Spirits?

  • Mezcal Aging:
    • Joven: Unaged, showcasing the pure flavor of the agave.
    • Reposado: Aged 2 months to 1 year, introduces subtle complexities.
    • Añejo: Aged 1 to 3 years, develops deeper, richer flavors.
  • Tequila Aging:
    • Blanco (Silver): Unaged, with a fresh, pure agave taste.
    • Reposado: Aged 2 months to 1 year, gains smoothness and subtle oak notes.
    • Añejo: Aged 1 to 3 years, acquires a smoother, richer profile.
    • Extra Añejo: Aged over 3 years, offers the most complexity and smoothness.

Harvesting agave plant for mezcal


Exploring the distinct worlds of Mezcal and Tequila reveals a fascinating blend of tradition and innovation rooted in Mexican culture. Mezcal, with its rustic and diverse palette, comes from a variety of agave species. In contrast, Tequila, primarily made from blue agave, has established a significant presence in both commercial and celebratory scenes. As both spirits gain attention through premium offerings and celebrity endorsements, they continue to evolve and intrigue, offering rich and varied experiences for enthusiasts and newcomers alike.