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Oaxacan Mezcal and Everything You Need to Know About it


Mezcal is the essence of everything around Oaxaca. It’s absolutely incredible the amount of mezcal that is made in this region. Oaxaca is the region of mezcal. If you hear it being done in any other places, chances are it’s not the real mezcal. Today we’re going to be talking about mezcal in Oaxaca.

family and agave plants in a mezcal tour in oaxaca mexico

Mezcal in Mexico

Mezcal is considered a very important alcohol and a lot of people are really into it. The Mezcal is very deeply loved-cultural alcohol here. Interestingly enough, the agave plant is actually called a gift from the gods, even though mezcal has probably been around for around 350 years. There have been historical readings that it goes back to almost two 3000 years ago when the assets and the Mayans actually processed it themselves and there’s obviously this whole thing.

As you walk around Oaxaca, all you see are pretty much mezcalerias where they sell mezcal. There are good top-shelf mezcals. However, just going and doing it and really understanding the whole process will blow your mind. It is one of the most laborious Alcohols that you will find today. It is literally 99 % manual labor and the 1 % is only because they have to pour it in and that is done through a machine, but everything else is completely done by hand.

Mezcal Flavors

There are different flavors in mescal, but interestingly enough the best ones are considered to be the ones that are the creamier, the ones that come from condensed milk. Personally, in my taste that’s the one that we enjoyed the most, but it’s considered to be the least. The less premium ones, right like the top shelf ones, are the purer ones. There’s even an interesting one that they use a pechuga of a turkey or a chicken, the breast that they put in that, and obviously, they also have ones with worms.

This is something that you could taste and during the tour, you will be able to taste all of them and as much as you possibly want and can.

Related Read: Everything You Need to Know About Food in Oaxaca

bottles of mezcal artesanal in oaxaca mexico

Differences Between Tequila and Mezcal

What’s the difference between tequila and mezcal which comes from the exact same plant?

  • Tequila is a different region and is further up north, at the actual region of tequila.
  • Mezcal and tequila have almost the exact same type of process, however, mezcal is definitely the first process before it becomes more of a tequila.
  • Tequila is done from the exact same plant.

Where to Go in Oaxaca for Mezcal?

Matatlan, which is a town about 45 minutes outside of Oaxaca, is where there are over 250 distilleries and as you’re driving or biking to or around Oaxaca. All you will pretty much see are the agave fields. That is really where it all pretty much originated from.

agave plant o a side of road and a sign in oaxaca mexico

Mezcal Tour

If you are visiting Oaxaca, I really recommend doing a mezcal tour experience, whatever you want to call it, because this is a way to really learn what mezcal is all about. We personally do not enjoy the flavor of mezcal. That doesn’t take away from the fact that mezcal is such an important part of Mexico, the Oaxaca culture, and that whole region.

Just because our flavor, our taste buds aren’t really into mezcal doesn’t mean that yours aren’t.

Making Mezcal

Firstly the process is the actual plant, the agave root, the agave plant or how they call it a margaris it’s the corazon of it, the heart. It usually takes about 7 to 9 years to really become alive. Some of them are actually 15 years old, and obviously, there are the more expensive ones.

Mezcal Plants

What’s fascinating is when they plant it that you have the mother plant, and then they plant the baby plant, and it takes up to a year for the baby plant to kind of take root, and then they have to move it because then it starts to drain the mother plant of all this nourishment, so they move it.

It is not the most cuddly plant. It is actually quite rough, and it’s like a cactus. Everything has to be done by hand, you could get really cut up. Then you don’t use the leaves. So you have to machete the leaves to cut to get them off first before you could even cultivate the heart or the carazon of this plant, which is where all the sugar is accumulated.

A mezcal plant could grow up to 60 kilos and that is only giving you about one liter of the actual mezcal.

kid on a pile of agave in oaxaca mexico

Cutting the Plant

Then every 8 kilos you have to put it on the ground. You have to ax it up. Once you ax it, you have to throw it into this huge dirt oven to make sure to get all the juices in it, and then people move it out. Then the distillery process happens.

axing up agave plants in oaxaca mexico

Distillery Process

Each thing, each process is handed including a horse which rips it up into shreds that you put into the distillery. It is a two-time distilled process, all done by hand cooking it in the heat. Then you extract the alcohol from it.

The process is super long and laborious, and honestly, when you’re looking at prices of mescal, please remember the amount of work that is involved behind it.

destilling and making mezcal in oaxaca bottling mezcal in oaxaca mexico


Honestly, this is something that I truly recommend doing and when you do, some of them offer you dinners, which is a very Oaxacan dinner flavor as well to different restaurants. One of the coolest tours that we have done while visiting Oaxaca. It is an entire day trip, so make sure that you have a full day for this trip. If you guys have done one of these, I’d love to hear your take on it and if you have feedback I’d love to hear about it.

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