SpiritsHandpicked by IWSC

How mezcal is made – and six great mezcals to try

Tequila may be Mexico's best-known drink, but the country's other spirit – mezcal – is rapidly gaining popularity in the US and beyond

Words by IWSC experts

Corte Vetusto mezcal agave
Handpicked by IWSC
Corte Vetusto uses three different varieties of agave to produce its range of award-winning mezcals

For years tequila has been held up as Mexico’s gift to the spirits world – for better or worse. But while an increasingly broad range of tequilas ensures the distinctive spirit continues to find favour with many devotees, it is the country’s other spirit – mezcal – that is rapidly gaining popularity in the US and beyond.

Part of the reason behind mezcal’s growth is its diversity of styles. While tequila can only be made from blue agave, mezcal can be produced from a host of agave varieties, some of which can take up to 25 years to reach maturity before they’re ready for harvesting.

Each agave produces a mezcal with a different flavour profile, composition and aroma. While mezcals made from tobala agave show more delicate notes, for example, the flavours from tepeztate agave are much more distinct.

Our selection here includes a range of top-rated mezcals – including Madrecuishe from Koch el Mezcal, which received the highest rating of all tequilas and mezcals entered into IWSC this year – made with four different types of agave: espadin, tobala, madrecuishe and tepeztate.