How they make mezcal

It’s Friday, and that means that many of us will be starting the weekend with celebratory drinks, meals out, and gatherings with friends. Oh. . . . I forgot. . .

But if you’re at home, you can at least pour yourself a shot of one of my favorite hard liquors, mezcal, which I much prefer to its relative tequila. Both are made with agave, but tequila is made only with blue agave whereas mezcal can be fermented from any number of varieties. I like mezcal because it’s not as refined as tequila, and has a more smokey, vegetal flavor. (This similar to why I prefer the darkest, lowest-grade form of maple syrup over the more expensive and refined varieties.)

This fascinating video shows how it’s made, usually in small batches. The heart of the agave is harvested, roasted and smoked in a pit, and then is crushed, fermented, and distilled. It’s a labor-intensive process, and I feel sorry for the poor horse who has to turn the mill.

Arriba! Abajo! Al centro! Adentro!




  1. Terrell Williams
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Gusano Rojo!!! Love this Mezcal!

  2. GBJames
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious if you also prefer more peaty Islay scotch whisky.

    • Francisco Garcia Mac
      Posted August 14, 2020 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Like a Lagavulin 16! Delicious!

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted August 14, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        That’s my default “go to” as well. There are also some very nice whiskies from Kilchoman and Bowmore. I don’t know if it’s age related, but my scotch drinking has moved from predominantly Speyside to predominantly Islay over the last 20 years or so. Not sure if it’s a function of jaded taste buds or just the ability to go up the price scale further.

        • darrelle
          Posted August 14, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          I tend to prefer Highland scotches, but really, I’ve found that a fine example of any style is quite good.

      • Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Everything form Islay is amazing. All of my favorites are from there and I am sure Johhny Walker Black gets some hints from there too.

    • Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      I am partial to the peaty malts, but my favorite of all time as an old (ca 18 yr) Springbank that I had when I was a guest at a dinner of Harvard’s Junior Fellows dinner. They had a virtually unlimited liquor budget.

      • GBJames
        Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        Springbank 18 would be a fine dram, I’m sure. You can obtain a bottle for a mere $180 around here!

        • Posted August 14, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

          I helped shop for it. I went to the liquor store with the Official Buyer for the Fellows, and he asked me what I wanted. I said Springbank, and he promptly forked out $125 for the bottle (it was some time ago). I sat next to some old geezer who was at the end of his time, and he barely spoke to me. At the end of the meal I asked him his name, and it was W.V.O Quine. I didn’t know who he was then!

  3. Simon Hayward
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Happy drinking – I’ll need one by the end of this afternoon.

    Since the kids left home Friday was always “go out to eat” night. Now it’s become “where are we ordering takeout?” It’s not the same.

  4. Posted August 14, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    This is where my Spanish, growing up in Mexico, comes handy.

    We, or at least those that drink in Mexico, they say

    ¡Arriba! ¡Abajo! ¡Al centro! ¡Adentro!

    Adentro meaning inside

    But the more informal way would be

    ¡Arriba! ¡Abajo! ¡Al centro! ¡pa’dentro!

    As in “para adentro”

    I’ll enjoy my Tim Horton’s coffee now.


  5. darrelle
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Not sure I prefer one over the other, but I do love both. I prefer both taste and color, whether mezcal or tequila.

    It’s been a while since I treated myself to a nice bottle. Might have to pick one up this weekend.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    … pour yourself a shot of one of my favorite hard liquors, mezcal, which I much prefer to its relative tequila.

    The worm — to eat or not to eat, that is the question.

    • Posted August 15, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Worm: Mezcal, mezcal… To turn or not to turn, that is ze quetzal.

  7. Mark
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I like Avion Silver Tequila.

  8. Stephanie Mayer
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    You should visit Oaxaca if you haven’t been already. It is full of cultural wonders, delicious food and mezcal bars, farms and distilleries.

    • Posted August 14, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      That’s definitely on my “to visit” list; the food is supposed to be great there, esp. the moles. But, sadly, the area has been hit hard by coronavirus.

    • GBJames
      Posted August 14, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Oaxaca is one of the more wonderful places to visit, especially if you like mixing prehistory with excellent food! I have fond memories of being in the zocalo at Christmas with my to-be-wife back in our younger years. I wonder if we’ll ever get back.

  9. Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    An amazing transformation.

  10. Hempenstein
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    I think this may be a clip from Agave, Spirit of a Nation, a feature-length documentary that I watched last fall in the plane en route to Amsterdam –> Stockholm, in those now-wiatful last days of normalcy that seem so long ago.

    It’s really an excellent film, and it was particularly great to have something beyond drek to watch on the flight. I hadn’t flown for the last 7yrs, so the variety of video offerings was astonishing.

  11. rickflick
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Something I’ve never had, but, I think I shall.

  12. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    A friend in Brownsville, Texas, ages his store-bought tequila in oak barrels to very smooth effect.

  13. CR
    Posted August 14, 2020 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    First tasted Mezcal at the tender age of 66 at a “mojito bar” in Tulum. Loved that smokey flavor. So different from Tequilas.

  14. Posted August 15, 2020 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    As a work study engineer (or industrial engineer) in my first career, I found it very hard to watch, without trying to see easier and quicker ways to do the job. No doubt it wouldn’t taste as good by the time I’d sorted it out 😋.

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