Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from any type of agave. The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl mexcalli, which means "oven-cooked agave", from metl and ixcalli.
Agaves or magueys are found mainly in many parts of Mexico and south to the equator, though most mezcal is made in Oaxaca. It can also be made in Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacan, and the recently approved Puebla. A saying attributed to Oaxaca regarding the drink is: "Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien, también." ("For everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well.").
Whether distilled drinks were produced in Mexico before the Spanish Conquest is unknown. The Spaniards were introduced to native fermented drinks such as pulque, made from the maguey plant. Soon, the conquistadors began experimenting with the agave plant to find a way to make a distillable fermented mash. The result was mezcal.
Today, mezcal is still made from the heart of the agave plant, called the piña, in much the same way as it was 200 years ago. In Mexico, mezcal is generally consumed straight and has a strong smoky flavor. Though other types of mezcal are not as popular as tequila (made specifically from the blue agave in select regions of the country), Mexico does export the product, mostly to Japan and the United States, and exports are growing.
Despite the similar name, mezcal does not contain mescaline or other psychedelic substances.
The alcohol by volume of Mezcal is between 40% - 55%, and changes based on the production method or location where it is sold.
About the ingredients
Mezcal: Mezcal, sometimes spelled mescal, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from any type of agave. The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl mexcalli, which means "oven-cooked agave", from metl and ixcalli. Traditionally the word "mezcal" has been used generally in Mexico for all agave spirits and it continues to be used for many agave spirits whether these spirits have been legally certified as "mezcal" or not, and it is also considered a drink of artisan origin. Agaves or magueys are endemic to the Americas and found globally as ornamental plants. More than 70% of mezcal is made in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, but is now produced and commercialized throughout Mexico for the national and international market. A saying attributed to Oaxaca regarding the drink is: "Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien, también; y si no hay remedio litro y medio" ("For all bad, mezcal, and for all good, as well; and if there is no remedy, liter and a half"). Native fermented drinks from maguey plant, such as pulque, existed before the arrival of the Spanish. The origin of mezcal is tied to the introduction of distillation technology from Spanish immigrants to Nueva Galicia (present-day Aguascalientes, Colima, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Nayarit, and Zacatecas) in the late 16th century.