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OAXACA, MEXICO

Mezcal Guide
by Ron Mader

MEZCAL WIKI

Aqui es Oaxaca, tierra del legitamo mezcal.
- Dichos

Mezcal Walk 2012

FLICKR ALBUM: Mezcal


Mezcal (sometimes spelled 'mescal') is a distilled liquor made from the agave plant. A strong smoky drink that symbolizes local culture and tradition, what tequila is to Jalisco, mezcal is to Oaxaca.


MEZCALTURISMO

As mezcal becomes more famous, visitors want to see where it is made. Mezcalturismo! More details about where to go in our guide to Mezcal Tours.

A MEZCAL FOR EVERY TASTE

Mezcal can be consumed as a straight drink or in cocktails, such as the Donají made with orange juice, grenadine, gusano worm salt and ice.

Choose from a variety of flavors -- minero (white), con gusano (with worm) or pechuga (chicken breast).

You can also choose the mezcal on the basis of aging -- joven mezcals are very young. A strong drink is the joven white mezcal. Smoother options include reposados, aged for two months, and añejo, aged for at least one year.

Mezcals can also be served with herbs and fruits. These are curados.

RECOMMENDED BRANDS

Alipus, De la Vega, Don Agave, Embajador, Matateco, Real Minero, Rey Zapoteco and Sinai

MEZCAL AND TEQUILA

Tequila is a finely distilled mezcal made from the blue agave in grown in the state of Jalisco. Oaxaca's mezcal can be produced from 18 different varieties of agave.

Mezcal often includes the worms from the agave, gusanos de maguey, (photo) as part of the decoration and flavoring. Tequila is never bottled with worms.

Another major difference -- mezcal is roasted underground while tequila is prepared in stainless steel steamers. Which drink is more popular? Tequila is the national and international favorite.

A few years ago tequila production stood at 53 million gallons per year and mezcal at 2.6 million gallons. That said, do not mistake quality with quantity. Thousands of Britney Spears fans can be wrong.

CERTIFICATION

How well does the COMERCAM program work?

DICHOS

Aqui es Oaxaca, tierra del legitamo mezcal
No es mezcal, es conejo.

Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa' dentro

Al tomar que el mundo se va acabar
No es mezcal, es conejo.
Solito es lo rico.

Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien, también
Salud!

QUOTES

Para celebrar, es condición jamás perder la fe, abrir el corazón y servir el mezcal.
- Jose Manuel Aguilera, El Mezcal

GOOD ADVICE

Sip, don't gulp!

When sampling a minero mezcal, the number and size of the bubbles in your glass signal the potency and quality of the drink. Aficionados say that if the mezcal is good enough, it does not need flavoring.

If you are buying mezcal direct from the palenqueros in the countryside, take a clean, empty bottle that can be filled.

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AUTHOR

Ron Mader is the responsible travel correspondent for Transitions Abroad and host of the award-winning Planeta.com website.


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Oaxaca Mezcal Walk @ Oaxaca 07.2011

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