The Mezcal is one of the most sophisticated spirits that exists. The homogenization of the product between two batches is one of the principal challenges that the Master Mezcalilleros have to affront. Any variation on one of the three most important components of the Mezcal’s elaboration (A, B or C) will totally change the result in the final flavor of this fine Spirit.
It is very important to understand that two Mezcales, coming from the same terroir and same Agave, may be a different Mezcal with different flavor and quality if they are made with one different component of these three…
A – Water
The water used for making Mezcal is different in each place. The source, the properties and the way that the water is obtained will play a very important role in the elaboration of the Mezcal.
The water may come from rivers, lakes, pipes or natural sources (ojo de agua). Each Source has different properties. For example, when it’s coming from the pipes (current drinkable water) it may contain chlorines. Some sources are very rich in iron others in sulfates. Also, some people have to bring the water from far away, and sometimes they mix their water from different sources.
B – Agave
In México there exists more that 200 kinds of Agaves. At this time we know how to make Alcohol with 40 of those Agaves. (Don’t worry, friends, we are working hard to find out how to make Mezcal with the other 160 Agaves). 😉
In the eight States inside of the DO (Denomination of Origin) we have available 26 of those 40 different Agaves for the elaboration of the Mezcal. Each one of the 40 Agaves has their own family of sub genders that make our list of flavors even bigger.
And yes, each agave has a different flavor, personality, and secret to be prepared. So please, when you compare Mezcal next time do it with grapes and not with Tequila who is just another Mezcal…
C – Master Distiller or Maestro Mezcalillero
The human component is very important in the result of the quality and flavor of the Mezcal. Each master Mezcalillero has a different background. Some of them came from more than five generations of Mezcalilleros bringing their family recipe, while other very talented guys right now are innovating. Also, they are coming from different States, they speak different languages, they have different recipes, cultures, traditions, and of course… Agaves!
Master Distiller factors start with the cut; how big is the cut and whether the Agave is shaved or not. How and for how long the Agave will be roasting in the pit. Also if the Maestro will keep some pineapples (hearts of Agave) that have been burned… or not.
The milling process is also very important and varies. For example, the size of the mill and the method to do it; agave can be milled both by hand and by Arabic stone (Tahona), or sometimes in some places by machines.
Another human factor is the fermenting process, which is very different depending on where it is made. Some places ferment their Milled and roasted Agave in the open wood barrels; others on an animal skin, plastic cubes, metal baths or in a concrete pool.
The distillation is the other human factor that may totally change the flavor and quality of the Mezcal; the kind of the distiller (Arabic or Philippine), the times of the distillation (one or two, some rare times three), temperature, and quantity and quality of the water added (A).
D – Drink your Mezcal slow; kiss it and enjoy it with moderation because maybe it’s a piece of art.