“Para todo mal, Mezcal; para todo bien también, si no hay remedio, litro y medio.”
This saying, known throughout Mexico, translates as something like: For everything bad, Mezcal, for everything that is good as well, and if it still does not help, one and a half liters.
Oaxaca has long been known as a leading producer of real mezcal worldwide. Its origins go back to prehispanic times when the liquid from the Maguey (a genus of Agave plants) was called a sacred drink and was used for ceremonial or medical purposes. Many years later, when the distillation process came to Mexico through the legacy of the Spaniards and Europeans, the mezcal industry as its known today, began around the 16th century. Nowadays it is a must in many regions for baptisms, weddings, funerals and celebrations such as the Día de los Muertos.
A main difference between mezcal and tequila is that tequila only has to contain 51% agave and the rest is balanced by additives. Mezcal often has a taste that takes getting used to, but has become a cult drink in recent years and has become indispensable in bars from Berlin to Paris and New York. It is fondly considered the more tequila´s hip rebel brother.
The Mezcal Route
For every traveler visiting Oaxaca, the mezcal route is a culinary must and you should try to include this day in your travel planning. The best place for this is Matatlán, the “world capital” of mezcal. Agaves have been smoked here for thousands of years, crushed with horse-powered millstones, fermented and distilled. This traditional and artesanal drink is still made by human hands from 100% agave in a lengthy process. In this small and very picturesque village, 90% of the families live from the production of mezcal and there are numerous small factories called “Palenques”, where you can learn everything about the spiritual liquid in a short period of time and which awaken all your senses in seconds.
Did You Know?
Although the mezcal is made in dozens of Mexican states, only Oaxaca, Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato, Michoacan and Zacatecas have the right of origin and are allowed to call their distillate mezcal.
In contrast to tequila, which is only made from the blue agave, there are a total of more than 250 different types of maguey which can be used for mezcal, of which 190 are in Mexico. Many species, such as Tepextate, have to be found in the wild and can take 25 years to process into mezcal.
The taste of the mezcal depends on the type of distillation and the storage of the liquid of each producer. Here, for example, fruits, herbs, insects or chicken breasts are added to define the taste.
Talk to us, we would be happy to organize a mezcal tour for you.