Mezcal: General Knowledge

Mezcal

 
  Various views of a bottle of mezcal. The worm can be seen in the middle image, at the bottom of the bottle.

Mezcal, or mescal, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant (a form of agaveAgave americana) native to Mexico. The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl mexcalli[meʃ’kalːi] metl [met͡ɬ] and ixcalli [iʃ’kalːi] which means “oven-cooked agave”.[1]

The maguey grows in many parts of Mexico, though most mezcal is made in Oaxaca.[2] There is a saying attributed to Oaxaca regarding the drink: “para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también” (“for everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well”).[3][4]

It is unclear whether distilled drinks were produced in Mexico before the Spanish Conquest.[5] The Spaniards were introduced to native fermented drinks such as pulque, also made from the maguey plant. Soon the conquistadors began experimenting with the maguey plant to find a way to make a distillable fermented mash. The result was mezcal.[6]

Today, mezcal is still made from the heart of the maguey plant, called the “piña”, much the same way it was 200 years ago, in most places.[3][7] In Mexico, mezcal is generally consumed straight and has a strong smoky flavor.[7] Though mezcal is not as popular as tequila (a mezcal 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.[8]

Despite the similar name, mezcal does not contain mescaline or other psychedelic substances.[9]

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Tequila: General Knowledge

Tequila

 
This article is about the alcoholic beverage. For other uses, see Tequila (disambiguation).
  Tequilas of various styles

Tequila (Spanish pronunciation: [teˈkila]) is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 65 kilometres (40 mi) northwest of Guadalajara, and in the highlands (Los Altos) of the western Mexican state of Jalisco.

The blue volcanic soil in the surrounding region is particularly well suited to the growing of the blue agave, and more than 300 million of the plants are harvested there each year.[1] Agave tequila grows differently depending on the region. Blue agaves grown in the highlands region are larger in size and sweeter in aroma and taste. Agaves harvested in the lowlands, on the other hand, have a more herbaceous fragrance and flavor.[2]

Mexican laws state that tequila can be produced only in the state of Jalisco and limited regions in the states of GuanajuatoMichoacánNayarit, and Tamaulipas.[3] Mexico is granted international right to the word “tequila”.[citation needed] The United States officially recognizes that spirits called “tequila” can only be produced in Mexico, although by agreement bulk amounts can be shipped to be bottled in the U.S.[4]

Tequila is most often made at a 38–40% alcohol content (76–80 proof), but can be produced between 31–55% alcohol content (62–110 proof).[5]

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