Tequila vs Mezcal – What’s the Difference?

What’s the Difference? Tequila is a type of mezcal, like scotch and bourbon are types of whiskey.   Mezcal is defined as any agave-based liquor, which includes tequila.

FactorTequilaMezcal
Raw Material – Agave.  Both tequila and mezcal are made from the harvested core of the agave plant,  known as the “piña.”  Can only be made with Weber Blue Agave.Can be made from more than 30 varieties of agave.  Most common are tobalá, tobaziche, tepeztate, arroqueño and espadín (accounts for up to 90% of mezcal).
Source Michoacán, Guanajuato, Nayarit, Tamaulipas and Jalisco (where the town of Tequila is located). Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacán, Puebla and Oaxaca (where > 85% of all mezcal is made).
DistilationProduced by steaming the agave inside industrial ovens before being distilled two or three times in copper pots.Cooked in earthen pits lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal  (which is the source of the smokiness commonly associated with mezcal) before being distilled in clay pots.
Aging– aged inside oak barrels Blanco (silver or plato/0-2 months), Reposado (2-12 months),  Anejo (1-3 years), Extra Anejo > 4 years.Joven (blanco or abacado/0-2 months), Reposado (2-12 months) and Anejo (at least one year).
The WormNo bottle of tequila will ever have a worm.Mezcal might have a worm put in the bottle purely as a marketing gimmick – and it seems to be working. You looked.

Tequila and Mezcal are completely distilled and  gluten-free.   Agave has no botanical connection to wheat or gluten, so it’s fine for a gluten-free diet.

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