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The Battle of Mexico’s Spirits: Tequila vs. Mezcal

We’re willing to bet you’ve had a tequila shot or two in your lifetime. And it probably wasn’t good tequila. At truk’t, we love tequila that you can sip and not take in the form of a $2 shot with salt and a lime. But, did you know tequila has a smokin’ hot older brother? It’s mezcal and we’re huge fans.

The similarities between tequila and mezcal start and end here: They’re both made from the agave plant. Keep reading if you want to know how they differ.

Tequila and mezcal

Tequila is to mezcal as bourbon is to whiskey

Tequila is a type of mezcal, like bourbon or rye are types of whiskey. Mezcal is defined as any agave-based liquor, which includes tequila (clearly). To sum it up, all tequilas are mezcals, but not all mezcals are tequilas. Live it. Breathe it. Remember it. Drink it.

Agave plant

Different agave plants make different liquors

Mezcal can be made from over 30 kinds of agave, while tequila can only be made from agave tequilana aka blue agave. The most common agave varieties mezcal is made from are tobalá, tobaziche, tepeztate, arroqueño and espadín, which is the most popular plant. About 90% of all mezcals are made from espadín.

Where in the world...

While there’s some overlap, tequila and mezcal are primarily made in different regions of Mexico. Tequila is made in five states: Michoacán, Guanajuato, Nayarit, Tamaulipas and Jalisco, which is where you’ll find the actual town of Tequila. You’ll find mezcal production in nine regions, but 85% of all mezcal is made in Oaxaca (pronounced wuh-hah-kuh).

The "proof" is in the puddin'

Both tequila and mezcal are made from the core, or the “piña,” of the agave plant. When making tequila, the agave is steamed in industrial ovens before being distilled a few times in copper pots. Mezcal is cooked in pits lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal, which gives it that killer smoky flavor, before being distilled in clay pots.

Sometimes labels do matter

After being distilled, tequila and mezcal age in oak barrels, but the aging categories are different for each type. There are three varieties of tequila: blanco (0-2 months), reposado (2-12 months) and anejo (1-3 years). And mezcal also has three varieties: blanco (0-2 months), reposado (2-12 months) and anejo (at least 1 year).


Mezcals you need to try:


"Made with 100% organic agave, this one is smoky and perfect for mixing in cocktails."


"Big, fresh green peppers on the nose. Add Ancho Reyes Verde and fresh lime and you have one of our favorite house cocktails-AIN’T EASY BEING VERDE."

Tequilas you need to try:


"This was the first tequila to start designating vintage and agave field location on the bottle. Very little burn on this one which makes it an excellent choice to sip neat."


"High end, smooth drinking tequila rested slightly. Each hand-painted bottle comes with a bell on top. Everyone wants to ring the bell!"


What we’re shakin’ up:


You know a Paloma? Refreshing, grapefruity, delicious. Now, instead of tequila, think mezcal. That’s our Mezcaloma. Still refreshing, grapefruity and delicious, just with that added smokiness of the mezcal.


We make our signature marg with Corazón Blanco Tequila, but if you want to try it with one of our recommendations above or any of our other 30+ tequilas, we’d love to make it for you.


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