Tequila and Mezcal

A recent experience in a bar in Antigua Guatemala restored my interest in the unknown world of these agave based spirits. [see my travelogue links here]

I am not going to profess expertise but more share my learning experiences here. I am definately not an expert but I am keen to learn more.

What do I know already ?

  1. Lots of tequila is slammed with salt and lemon
  2. Most people say they don’t like it and pull a face
  3.  A good margarita is a great cocktail
  4. there must be more to this than cheap bar slammers

So I found myself in a respite from the mid afternoon sun in a bar in Antigua Guatemala. 100 yards from the famous arch.

Nipping into the cool restaurant called Fridas, an homage to Frida Khalo and obviously mexican based, i flopped back into a leather tub chairvin the corner.

Following a few very refeshing Gallo, the local beer I read through the menu and saw a great list of tequila and Mezcal.

The difference between the two I’ve since researched is either very complicated or very simple. A fantastic read is Tom Bullocks guide “The Mezcal Experience” which is highly recommended.

The simple difference is that for mezcal the agave heart (pina) is smoked then fermented and distilled whereas for tequila the pina is pressed and must be blue agave only. This is important for the resulting product. Tequila is a refined and more pure alcohol spirit whereas mezcal is complex, smoky and more varied. [I am happy to be corrected if this is too simplified!]

The next variable is age and oak. Silver (unaged), Reposado and Anejo all add dimensions that alter the drinking experience.

What did i drink that afternoon? I went to the best on the list. Danzantes. I must confess i have had this once before at loki wines and it was a revelation. The complexities of fine bourbon, rum, armangac, with the subtle smoke of scotch whisky.

I was not disapointed. nor with the acompanying fried cricket.

This inspired me to delve deeper into these interesting spirits and in following posts I will compare some of the mezcals and tequilas that are available to me.


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