What is the difference between Tequila and Mezcal?

A commonly asked question - what is the difference between Tequila and Mezcal?

Well.. they are both Mexican spirits derived from the agave plant, but they differ in many important ways from the way they're produced, their geographical origin (where they are made) and the type of agave used to make them.

Let's talk about Agave...

Tequila is made exclusively from blue agave (or in fancy terms... Agave tequilana Weber azul. In fact, this exclusivity falls under the Denomination of Origin regulations which ensure that tequila maintains its historical and cultural significance and meets specific quality standards.

Mezcal can be produced from over 30 different types of agave (there are over 200 types of agave in total).. and this explains the diversity in agave taste and flavour profiles - they will all taste slightly different. However, the most common Agave used to produce Mezcal is 'Agave Espadin'

Let's talk geography...

As you've just learned, Tequila is made exclusively from Blue Agave. Blue Agave is primarily found and cultivated in Mexico, in particular - the state of Jalisco... and in the vicinity of 'Tequila' - the heartland of the beverage.. making sense now? The region's volcanic soil and climate are ideal for its growth.

Four other states in Mexico hav e been allowed to cultivate blue agave for tequila production: Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. 

Mezcal however, is primarily produced in Oaxaca, though it can also come from Durango, Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Puebla, Zacatecas, and a few other states.

Now for the production...

The process of producing tequila involves steaming the blue agave in industrial ovens before distillation occurs in copper or stainless steel pots.

Mezcal traditionally involves cooking the agave in earthen pits lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal, which is then covered with agave leaves or a canvas, imparting a distinct smoky flavor to the spirit.

And the flavours?

Due to the differences in production, tequila typically has a smoother, sweeter taste, primarily influenced by the blue agave and the production process.

Mezcal is known for its complex and smoky flavor, which results from the traditional pit-cooking process.

A fun fact...

Both tequila and mezcal have different varieties, and they are all based on age!


  • Blanco (unaged)
  • Reposado (aged for 2-12 months)
  • Añejo (aged 1-3 years)
  • Extra Añejo (aged over 3 years)


  • Joven (unaged)
  • Reposado (aged at least 2 months)
  • Anejo (aged at least 1 year)

Despite their differences, both tequila and mezcal share a deep cultural heritage in Mexico, with artisanal production methods and family-owned distilleries contributing to the unique character of each bottle. The global appreciation for these spirits continues to grow, highlighting not only their distinctive flavors but also the rich traditions behind their production.

My personal favourite? Tequila all the way. I'm not a big fan of a smoky flavour profile so I'll stick to my 818 Reserve thanks!



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