Premium mezcal includes the highest-quality mezcal, the famed artisanal Mexican spirit made from the agave plant.
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What Exactly is Mezcal?
Let’s clear up any potential confusion right away: mezcal is a type of tequila, but it’s got a distinct taste and production process. The key difference between the two is that tequila can only be made from blue agave, while mezcal can be made from any type of agave.
Mezcal dates back to the entry of Spaniards into modern-day Mexico. Conquistadors, accustomed to strong liquor, found the local spirits too weak — so they started looking for things to ferment in the New World.
Since the native people had already come up with pulque, a traditional spirit distilled from the agave plant, the Spaniards started distilling mezcal from it.
Below we’ll learn how it’s made, where to find it, its top five premium brands, and the best weed strains to pair it with.
How Is Premium Mezcal Made?
Premium mezcal is unique and complex, and that’s because it’s made using a traditional process that has been passed down through generations of Mexican artisans.
Premium mezcal doesn’t come easy — it’s a labor-intensive process that requires a great deal of skill and expertise. Premium mezcal can be made from different types of agave, each with its own unique flavor profile. Most often, these are Espadin, Tobala, or Tepeztate plants.
Steps to Make Mezcal
The first step is to harvest the mature agave plants, which can take up to 10 years to reach full size.
The leaves are stripped away, leaving only the core (a pineapple-like fruit called the “piña”), which is then roasted in an underground pit oven for several days. This process caramelizes the natural carbohydrates in the piña and gives mezcal its distinctive smoky flavor.
After roasting, the distillers use a stone mill to crush the piña and extract the juice. This juice then undergoes fermentation in large wooden barrels for several days.
Distillation then happens twice using traditional copper or clay stills. The result: a delicious spirit with high alcohol content and a complex flavor.
Premium mezcal is often bottled by hand and labeled with the name of the producer, the type of agave used, and the age of the spirit. The result is a unique and flavorful spirit that is unlike any other.
Where Is Premium Mezcal Usually Sold?
As with all premium things, hunting down a bottle of premium mezcal is all about knowing where to look.
Start by visiting your local liquor store or specialty beverage shop to see if they carry any premium mezcal brands. You can also check out online retailers or websites that specialize in selling spirits.
Go straight to the source by purchasing mezcal directly from the producer or from a distributor. Some mezcal producers have their own online stores, or you can try reaching out to them directly to ask where you can purchase their products.
What Are the Top 5 Premium Mezcal Brands?
Plenty of companies make mezcal, but if you want the good stuff, try these five premium mezcal brands:
Del Maguey is one of the most well-known and respected mezcal brands, and it offers a wide range of high-quality mezcals that are made using traditional methods. Their motto, “sip it, don’t shoot it,” speaks volumes.
Rey Campero is a family-owned mezcal brand that produces small-batch mezcals using traditional techniques. They are known for putting out complex, flavorful spirits.
Real Minero is another family-owned mezcal brand that has been producing high-quality mezcals for generations. They use a variety of agave species and distillation techniques to create unique and delicious mezcals.
El Jolgorio is dedicated to preserving traditional mezcal production methods and promoting small-batch production. They offer a wide range of mezcals that showcase the diverse flavors of different agave species.
Mezcal Vago is a relatively new mezcal brand, but they have gained a lot of attention in recent years for their high-quality mezcals. They work closely with small-scale mezcaleros to create unique and flavorful mezcals that are true to their origins.
Pairing Premium Mezcal with Strains
Here are three great strains that pair well with high-grade mezcal:
A delectable hybrid that elevates and boosts your mood, Gelato #33 is a great complement to high-end mezcal. Its delicious flavors are predominantly herbal and fruity, with strong notes of pepper and citrus thrown in.
Flo Walker is legendary for its epic effects, with a warm flavor full of pepper, herbs, and pine. It’s great for chilling and staying clear-headed, a big plus when you’re drinking some fine tequila.
Apple Fritter is strikingly similar to the beloved pastry: it’s buttery, apple-laden, cheesy, and tinged with sweet vanilla. Enjoy a virtual trip to the bakery as you sip some fine tequila.