Mezcal from Oaxaca

Best Mezcal from Oaxaca: 15 Must-Try Brands [2024]

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Looking for the best mezcal from Oaxaca to try on your next trip to Mexico?

Oaxaca is full to the gills with amazing brands of mezcal, and it can genuinely be difficult to find the best candidates.

You don’t want to head home and realize that you missed out on a great local drop that is hard to get outside Oaxaca.

To make sure you’re ready for your mezcal tour of Oaxaca, we’ve set out below our top 15 must-try brands that produce the best mezcal from Oaxaca.

Let’s dive right in.

best mezcal from oaxaca

best mezcal from oaxaca

What is Mezcal?

Mezcal is a distilled spirit that is crafted through a traditional and artisanal process that involves fermenting and distilling agave plants.

The term “mezcal” is derived from the Nahuatl word “mexcalli,” meaning “oven-cooked agave,” highlighting the fundamental role of agave in its production.

Mezcal’s key characteristics lie in its signature smoky flavor profile, which is achieved through the agave’s cooking process.

The heart of the agave, known as the piña, is roasted in earthen pits, infusing the spirit with earthy and vegetal notes.

This cooking method contributes to mezcal’s complexity and sets it apart from other spirits.

best mezcal from oaxaca

Is Mezcal the Same as Tequila?

Mezcal is often confused with tequila, but there are notable differences between the two.

While both spirits are made from agave, tequila exclusively uses the blue agave plant (Agave tequilana) cultivated in designated regions of Mexico, primarily the state of Jalisco.

Mezcal, on the other hand, can be produced from various agave species, offering a broader range of flavor profiles.

The production and distillation methods of mezcal and tequila also diverge.

Mezcal’s artisanal approach involves pit-roasting the agave, while tequila uses a more industrialized method known as autoclave cooking.

The distillation process for mezcal typically occurs in clay pots or copper stills, whereas tequila is predominantly distilled in stainless steel or copper stills.

best mezcal from oaxaca

How Important is the Agave?

Very. The agave plant holds immense significance in mezcal production.

Over 30 agave species grow in Oaxaca, each contributing unique flavors and characteristics to the mezcal they yield.

The cultivation and harvesting of agave involve meticulous care, as it takes between seven and 30 years for the plant to mature before it can be harvested for mezcal production.

The geographical origin of the agave also significantly influences the mezcal’s taste, leading to distinct regional expressions known as “terroir.”

In short, the agave plant serves as the soul of mezcal, connecting the spirit to its ancient roots and cultural heritage.

best mezcal from oaxaca

What’s the Difference Between Joven, Reposado and Añejo?

Joven, reposado and añejo refer to the different periods during which the mezcal is aged.

Aging usually means storing for a period of time in oak barrels. As a result, the mezcal absorbs some of the characteristics of the oak barrels, including changes to colour and to flavour.

Joven (Spanish for “young”) is mezcal is that is aged for two months or less. It may be directly bottled after distillation without being aged at all.

Reposado (Spanish for “rested”) is mezcal that is aged for between two months and 12 months.

Añejo (Spanish for “aged”) is mezcal that is aged for at least 12 months.

The aging process plays a crucial role in shaping the color, aroma, and taste of the mezcal. The longer the mezcal is aged, the deeper the colour of the spirit, and the more complex the flavors of the mezcal.

Aged mezcal is also more expensive, as it needs to be carefully stored and tended to during the aging process.

best mezcal from oaxaca

The Best Mezcal from Oaxaca

Okay, now that the basics are out of the way, let’s dive into the best mezcal from Oaxaca.

1. Illegal Mezcal


Illegal Mezcal is a Oaxacan founded by John Rexer, an American entrepreneur, in 2006.

Legend has it that Rexer “creatively” sourced his Guatemalan bar with the Oaxacan spirit, creating the first mezcal bar outside of Mexico.

Illegal Mezcal is made exclusively from the Espadín agave, which is the most common and widely used agave for mezcal production.

However, although it uses only variety of agave, the brand offers four distinct varieties: Joven, Reposado, Añejo, and 7 Year Añejo.

Illegal Joven Mezcal is known for its robust and earthy flavors, with hints of smoke and citrus. The use of Espadín agave ensures that Illegal Joven Mezcal maintains the traditional taste that mezcal enthusiasts appreciate.

Illegal Reposado Mezcal is aged in oak barrels for four months, allowing it to develop a smoother and more complex flavor profile. The aging process imparts subtle notes of vanilla, caramel, and wood, enhancing its overall character.

Illegal Añejo Mezcal is aged for 13 months, giving it a fuller, rounder body. The palette has maple and bitter orange aromas, and rich butterscotch notes.

Illegal 7 Year Añejo Mezcal is an exceptional premium mezcal. It has a nose of toasted oak, vanilla, and caramel, and offers a velvety texture, with bold notes of dark chocolate, butterscotch, and a subtle hint of smokiness on the palette.

In summary, Illegal has an impressive range that definitely warrants a place on the list of best mezcal from Oaxaca.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

2. Wahaka Mezcal


Wahaka Mezcal is a distinguished brand boasting some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca. Each mezcal is meticulously crafted from agave species found in the San Dionisio Ocotepec region of Oaxaca.

Wahaka has five products in two product lines: traditional and signature.

The traditional line is comprised of Wahaka Espadín Mezcal and Wahaka Mezcal Abocado con Gusano.

Wahaka Espadín Mezcal is an unaged mezcal expertly made from the traditional Espadín agave. Wahaka Mezcal Abocado con Gusano is a reposado mezcal also made from the Espadín agave, and is aged 4-6 months in re-charred American oak barrels with agave worms.

The signature line is comprised of Wahaka Tobalá Mezcal, Wahaka Mezcal Madre-Cuishe and Wahaka Ensamble Mezcal. These mezcals are all unaged.

Wahaka Tobalá Mezcal is crafted from wild Tobalá agave, which is harvested after 12 years. It exhibits delicate and floral aromas, with hints of citrus and a smooth, velvety finish.

Wahaka Mezcal Madre-Cuishe is crafted from the rare and wild Madre-Cuishe agave, also harvested after 12 years. It offers a distinctive flavor profile characterized by earthy and herbal notes, accompanied by a hint of minerality.

Wahaka Ensamble Mezcal showcases the brand’s creativity by blending different agave varieties. This mezcal artfully combines 50% estate-farmed Espadín, 25% wild Madre-Cuishe, and 25% wild Tobalá, resulting in a mezcal with layered complexity and a balanced flavor profile.

In summary, this brand has a great unique selection of some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca that you will find, and deserves its place on this list.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

3. Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal


Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal is a very well-known brand that has earned a prominent place in the world of artisanal mezcal. It was founded in 1995 by artist and entrepreneur Ron Cooper and produces a remarkable collection of some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca.

One of the unique aspects of Del Maguey is its focus on producing mezcal from single villages, each offering distinct flavors and characteristics.

Del Maguey has a large range of mezcals made from various different agaves. Notable varieties include Del Maguey Vida, Del Maguey Chichicapa, and Del Maguey Arroqueño.

Del Maguey Vida comes in a Vida Clásico and a Vida de Muertos variety. Both are made from the Espadin agave.

Del Maguey Vida Clásico has a nose of tropical fruit, honey, & roast agave, and a palate of ginger, cinnamon, and tangerine, with a soft finish.

Del Maguey Vida de Muertos is inspired by certain mezcal varieties that are distilled by the Paciano Cruz Nolasco family for Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca. It has a nose of tropical fruit and hints of warming spice, and a creamy texture with floral notes, green herbs and poblano peppers, with a long, complex finish.

Del Maguey Chichicapa is hand-crafted in the village of San Baltazar Chichicapa, crafted from wild agave Tobalá. It is versatile and accessible, with a balanced smokiness and fruity notes.

Del Maguey Arroqueño is a highly regarded mezcal produced from the rare and wild agave Arroqueño, found in the arid landscapes of Oaxaca’s mountainous regions. The agave Arroqueño can take up to 25 years to mature, making this expression a true rarity and a prized addition to Del Maguey’s collection.

There is no doubt that the Del Maguey collection provides you with an abundance of some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca that you are likely to find.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

4. Los Danzantes Mezcal


Los Danzantes Mezcal is one of the best mezcal from Oaxaca, founded in 1997 by Jaime and Gustavo Muñoz. The two brothers began with a restaurant in Oaxaca of the same name, before turning their hand to creating mezcal.

Los Danzantes have a great range of different mezcals made from the Espadín, Arroqueño, and Tobalá agave varieties. Their Espadín range includes a joven, a reposado, and an añejo.

The flagship Los Danzantes Espadín features a well-balanced profile with earthy and herbal notes, complemented by a subtle hint of smoke.

Los Danzantes Espadín Reposado spends nine months aging in oak barrels, allowing it to develop deeper complexity and smoothness. The aging process imparts notes of vanilla, caramel, and oak to the mezcal, elevating its character without overpowering the agave’s natural essence.

Los Danzantes Añejo is a distinguished mezcal expression that undergoes an extended aging process in oak barrels for 16 months. This maturation imparts a deep amber hue to the spirit and infuses it with rich, complex flavors. Aromas of caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak mingle with the smoky essence of agave, creating a harmonious and elegant bouquet.

Los Danzantes Tobalá is crafted from the rare and wild agave Tobalá, known for its intricate and unique flavors. This variety boasts a more complex profile with herbal, floral, and tropical fruit notes, and is often considered a connoisseur’s choice.

Los Danzantes Pechuga is a special and ceremonial expression, distilled with chicken breast and various fruits and spices. This unique production process infuses the mezcal with additional layers of flavor, resulting in a smooth and savory spirit.

Los Danzantes Sierra Negra is made from the rare and wild agave variety, Sierra Negra. It offers a distinctive and intriguing flavor profile with herbal and earthy notes, complemented by a subtle smokiness that adds depth to the overall experience.

Los Danzantes Mezcal is deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of Oaxaca. They use traditional production methods, such as crushing the agave pines using a horse-drawn millstone.

These mezcals are high-quality traditional products that rightly form part of the list of best mezcal from Oaxaca.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

5. El Jolgorio Mezcal


El Jolgorio Mezcal is a brand under which certain mezcals produced by the Casa Cortés collective of mezcaleros based in Oaxaca are bottled.

With a strong commitment to preserving ancestral methods, El Jolgorio offers a diverse selection of mezcal varieties, each sourced from distinct agave species and different regions of Oaxaca.

The name “El Jolgorio” is a reference to traditional rituals, ceremonies, and festivities that take place in villages in Oaxaca. Such celebrations, known as Jolgorios, always involve mezcal, and often different mezcals are prepared with a particular festival in mind.

There are 16 different varieties of some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca under the El Jolgorio collection available for you to sample. These include varieties from the Espadín, Tobalá, Pechuga, Cuixe, and Coyote agaves.

El Jolgorio Espadín captures the essence of traditional mezcal with its herbaceous and smoky notes.

El Jolgorio Tobalá delivers a unique and complex flavor profile of fruity and floral aromas, coupled with a distinct minerality that is reminiscent of the agave’s natural environment

El Jolgorio Pechuga undergoes a third distillation and is infused with a combination of seasonal fruits, nuts, spices, and a turkey or chicken breast.

El Jolgorio Cuixe includes hints of anise, mint, and citrus, making it an intriguing and sophisticated choice for mezcal enthusiasts.

El Jolgorio Coyote contains distinct herbal and citrus notes, accompanied by a touch of smoke, and offers an exceptional taste experience for mezcal enthusiasts seeking something distinctive and adventurous.

In summary, the variety available under the El Jolgorio brand of family-owned palenques (distilleries) in the Casa Cortez collective is extensive and includes some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

6. Mezcal Vago


Mezcal Vago is a renowned mezcal brand that has gained recognition for producing some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca.

Founded by Judah Kuper and Dylan Sloan in 2012, Mezcal Vago focuses on single-origin mezcals produced by skilled mezcaleros in various regions of Oaxaca.

Mezcal Vago offers an array of mezcal expressions, each made from different agave varieties.

It’s flagship product is Mezcal Vago Elote. It is made from Espadín agave, has subtly sweet and smoky flavors, and hints of roasted corn (elote) that give it a unique character.

Another speciality product is Mezcal Vago Ensamble en Barro. This expression is a unique blend of Espadín, Mexicano, Coyote, Arroqueño and Sierra Negra agaves, which are distilled in clay pots (barro). It delivers a harmonious combination of flavors from each agave type.

The brand also has many other varieties for you to try including Mezcal Vago Tobalá, Mezcal Vago Mexicano, Mezcal Vago Tepeztate, and Mezcal Vago Cuixe.

You could happily and productively spend quite some time working your way through this collection of some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

7. Mezcal Unión


Mezcal Unión is a mezcal brand that prides itself on a unique philosophy of collaboration and community.

Founded in 2012, the brand was born out of a partnership between a collective of families and farmers from different regions of Oaxaca, Mexico. Their shared vision was to produce high-quality mezcal while promoting sustainable practices and supporting local communities.

Mezcal Unión offers several varieties of joven mezcal, each sourced from distinct agave species and terroirs, showcasing the diverse flavors that Oaxaca has to offer.

One of their signature expressions is Unión Joven, a blend of Espadín and Cirial agaves, giving it a harmonious balance of flavors. The Espadín contributes a floral and herbal aroma, while the Cirial adds complexity with its fruity notes.

Another notable offering is Unión Viejo, meaning “old” in Spanish. This mezcal is also a joven mezcal, but is a blend of Espadín and the rarer Tobalá agave. The blend has a rich and distinctive character, with hints of caramel, vanilla, and a subtle smokiness.

Although both expressions are joven mezcals, the mezcaleros producing Mezcal Unión are top-notch and produce some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

8. Real Minero Mezcal


Real Minero is a revered and storied mezcal brand that has a long history of crafting some of the best mezcal in Oaxaca.

Operated by the Ángeles family in the heart of Santa Catarina Minas for four generations, the brand is deeply rooted in tradition and is celebrated for its commitment to producing mezcal in the most authentic and artisanal way possible.

This is evident in their use of clay pot stills, which are known for imparting a unique and characterful taste to the mezcal. Each batch of Real Minero mezcal is carefully crafted and aged in glass containers to preserve its authenticity and original character.

Real Minero offers a diverse range of mezcal varieties, each sourced from different agave species that are carefully selected and harvested by hand.

One of their most iconic expressions is Real Minero Espadín, made from the Espadín agave. It has a balanced and approachable flavor profile with fruity and floral notes, complemented by a subtle smokiness.

Another flagship offering is their Real Minero Pechuga, which is made from a blend of Espadín and Tobalá agaves, resulting in a complex and aromatic mezcal with a touch of sweetness and a rich, velvety mouthfeel.

With a rich nearly 50-year history and a commitment to traditional practices, Real Minero has produced some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca and is likely to continue to do so for years to come.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

9. Pierde Almas


The Pierde Almas brand was born in 2007 when Jonathan Barbieri and several friends decided to embark on a journey to explore the diverse agave varieties and traditional mezcal-making techniques of Oaxaca.

Inspired by the beauty and complexity of the region’s mezcal heritage, they established Pierde Almas with the aim of sharing the unique flavors and cultural significance of mezcal with the world.

Pierde Almas offers a diverse range of mezcal varieties, each showcasing the distinct characteristics of the agave species and the terroir in which they grow. Their top offerings include Espadín, Tobalá, and Madrecuixe mezcal.

Pierde Almas Espadín mezcal is made from the most widely cultivated agave species, Espadín, known for its robust and versatile flavor profile. It presents a harmonious blend of earthy and smoky notes with hints of citrus and herbal undertones.

Pierde Almas Tobalá mezcal is crafted from wild Tobalá agave, which takes longer to mature and is more difficult to harvest. This variety offers a complex and refined taste with a balance of floral, fruity, and spicy elements.

Pierde Almas Madrecuixe mezcal is made from the wild Madrecuixe agave, known for its unique flavor characteristics. It exhibits a vibrant and complex taste profile with notes of tropical fruit, mint, and earthiness.

In short, Pierde Almas produces some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca and is renowned for its dedication to preserving the traditional methods of mezcal production.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

10. Alipús Mezcal


Alipús Mezcal was officially established in 1999 with the mission of preserving and promoting the artisanal mezcal traditions of different villages and regions in Oaxaca.

Alipús sources its agaves from various communities, showcasing the diverse agave species and terroir that contribute to the unique flavors of their mezcal. Their top offerings include Alipús San Andrés, Alipús San Juan, and Alipús Santa Ana.

Alipús San Andrés is made from the Espadín agave and presents a delicate balance of smoky and earthy flavors, with hints of tropical fruit and citrus.

Alipús San Juan is crafted from the wild tobalá agave, known for its complex and refined taste profile. This variety offers a harmonious blend of floral, herbal, and fruity notes, with a distinct minerality that sets it apart.

Alipús Santa Ana is made from the rare and wild cuixe agave, which takes longer to mature and is more challenging to harvest. This mezcal boasts a robust and earthy character, with an array of herbal and spicy undertones.

Alipús produces some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca and is celebrated for its dedication to preserving the cultural heritage of mezcal-making in Oaxaca.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

11. Nuestra Soledad Mezcal


Nuestra Soledad Mezcal forms part of the Casa Cortez portfolio, a collective of mezcal brands dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional mezcal-making practices.

Nuestra Soledad sources its agaves from distinct regions in Oaxaca, each offering unique terroir and agave varieties.

Their best-known expressions are some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca include Nuestra Soledad Ejutla, Nuestra Soledad La Compañía, and Nuestra Soledad San Luis del Rio.

Nuestra Soledad Ejutla is made from the Espadín agave, a versatile and commonly used variety. This mezcal exhibits a delicate balance of smoke and herbal notes, with a hint of sweetness and citrus on the palate.

Nuestra Soledad La Compañía is crafted from the wild tobaziche agave, which lends a complex and robust character to the mezcal, with hints of tropical fruit.

Nuestra Soledad San Luis del Rio is made from the distinctive and rare cuixe agave. This variety presents a unique flavor profile with pronounced herbal notes, a touch of spice, and a smooth, creamy texture.

All of the options presented by this brand are great, and you’re sure to be sampling some of the best mezcal in Oaxaca when you are fortunate enough to try any of their products.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

12. Mezcaloteca Mezcal


Mezcaloteca is a distinguished brand that embodies the essence of artisanal mezcal production in Oaxaca.

Founded in 2012 by Arik Torren and Elisandro Gonzalez, Mezcaloteca is not just a brand, but also a unique tasting room and cultural space dedicated to promoting mezcal culture and the traditional mezcal-making process.

At Mezcaloteca, the focus is on showcasing the diversity and complexity of mezcal varieties and the distinct flavors that each agave species imparts. They offer an impressive range of single-origin mezcals sourced from different regions of Oaxaca.

Some of their top offerings include Mezcaloteca Espadín, Mezcaloteca Tobalá, and Mezcaloteca Arroqueño.

Mezcaloteca Espadín is a classic expression made from the widely cultivated Espadín agave and presents a balanced combination of earthy and herbal notes, with a touch of smoke and citrus undertones.

Mezcaloteca Tobalá features the rare and wild Tobalá agave and is characterized by its unique floral and fruity aromas, along with a delicate smokiness and a velvety texture.

Mezcaloteca Arroqueño is crafted from the large and robust Arroqueño agave. This variety imparts robust and savory flavors, with herbal and earthy undertones, making it a favorite among mezcal enthusiasts seeking bold and complex profiles.

Each bottle of Mezcaloteca comes with detailed information about the mezcal’s origin, production process, and the mezcalero who crafted it. This focus on education and storytelling allows consumers to connect with the rich cultural and historical aspects of mezcal-making.

Additionally, Mezcaloteca is renowned for its distinctive tasting room experience. Visitors can explore various mezcals under the guidance of knowledgeable staff, gaining a deeper appreciation for the nuanced flavors and complexities of each variety.

Mezcaloteca not only produces some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca, it also provides a fantastic venue to do an unforgettable tasting of their amazing collection. Check out our guide for the best mezcal tasting in Oaxaca if you’re interested in learning more.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

13. Rey Campero Mezcal


Rey Campero Mezcal was founded by maestro mezcalero Romulo Sanchez Parada of Oaxaca.

The brand takes its name from the Spanish words “Rey,” meaning king, and “Campero,” which refers to the countryside. This reflects the brand’s commitment to honoring the rich heritage of mezcal-making rooted in rural Oaxacan communities.

Rey Campero has a large collection, including Rey Campero Espadín, Rey Campero Tobalá, and Rey Campero Cuishe.

Rey Campero Espadín is crafted from the Espadín agave and features prominent earthy and herbal notes, with a delicate smokiness.

Rey Campero Tobalá is made from the rare and wild tobalá agave, cherished for its complex and exotic aromas. This mezcal offers a delightful interplay of floral, fruity, and spicy nuances, making it a coveted choice among mezcal enthusiasts.

Rey Campero Cuishe has a robust and savory profile, with notes of green herbs and roasted vegetables, culminating in a profound and lingering finish.

This brand is another great artisanal distillery producing some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

14. Marca Negra Mezcal


Marca Negra was founded in 2010 by a group of mezcal enthusiasts and entrepreneurs and has quickly gained recognition internationally.

The brand boasts some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca, including Marca Negra Espadín, Marca Negra Dobadaan, and Marca Negra Tepeztate.

Marca Negra Espadín is crafted from the Espadín agave and offers a harmonious balance of herbal, citrus, and smoky notes. It is a perfect introduction to the world of mezcal for both newcomers and seasoned enthusiasts.

Marca Negra Dobadaan, on the other hand, is made from the wild and rare Dobadaan agave, known for its intense and complex flavors. This mezcal boasts earthy and floral undertones, with a hint of minerality that showcases the unique terroir of Oaxaca.

The brand’s Tepeztate mezcal is a true expression of the wild and untamed landscape of Oaxaca. Made from the elusive Tepeztate agave, which takes decades to mature, this mezcal offers a captivating array of herbal, tropical fruit, and spicy notes, making it a sought-after choice among mezcal connoisseurs.

When you open a Marca Negra mezcal, you will know that you have the privilege of sampling some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

15. Amaras Mezcal


Mezcal Amaras was founded by a group of friends and mezcal enthusiasts with a shared passion for preserving traditional mezcal-making techniques and producing the best mezcal from Oaxaca.

Amaras offers a diverse range of mezcal varieties, but its top offerings include Mezcal Amaras Espadín and Mezcal Amaras Cupreata.

Mezcal Amaras Espadín is made from the Espadín agave, with notes of ripe fruits, subtle smoke, and a hint of earthiness.

Mezcal Amaras Cupreata, on the other hand, is made from the rare and wild Cupreata agave, which grows in the rugged mountains of Oaxaca. It offers a unique flavor profile characterized by herbal and floral notes, with a touch of spiciness that distinguishes it from other varieties.

These delightful and beautifully packaged products are certainly some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca that you may have the good fortune to try.

Buy at: Total Wine & More, Drizly, or Master of Malt.

best mezcal from oaxaca

Go Forth and Explore the World of Mezcal!

Thirsty yet?

The list above should give you a great place to locate some of the best mezcal from Oaxaca that you can find on the market.

Check out our guide on the best mezcal tasting in Oaxaca and the best mezcalerias in Oaxaca if you’re keen to get out there and start your mezcal journey.

If you want to know more about mezcal production in Oaxaca, keep reading!

best mezcal from oaxaca

The Art Of Mezcal-Making In Oaxaca

Oaxacan Mezcal Production

Mezcal production in Oaxaca is steeped in tradition and artisanal methods passed down through generations. It is one of the reasons why so many of the best mezcal in Mexico are to be found in that one region.

The journey begins with the cultivation of agave plants. Some, such as Espadín, are mature in seven or eight years. Others, such as the Tepeztate agave take an average of 25 to 30 years to reach full maturity.

Once the agave reaches its peak, the “maestro mezcalero,” or master distiller, begins the labor-intensive process of harvesting.

Using a “coa,” a specialized tool resembling a sharp pick, the maestro carefully removes the agave’s sharp leaves to reveal the core or “piña.”

The piñas are then roasted in underground pits lined with volcanic rocks and heated with wood-fired flames.

This roasting process imparts a smoky flavor to the agave, a characteristic that distinguishes mezcal from its cousin, tequila.

After roasting, the cooked agave is crushed by a traditional stone mill or a modern mechanical press to extract its sweet juice, known as “aguamiel” (Spanish for “honey-water”). The extracted aguamiel is then transferred to fermentation vats, where it undergoes natural fermentation for several days.

This step is crucial in the mezcal-making process as it influences the final flavor profile of the spirit.

Once fermentation is complete, the aguamiel is distilled in small, copper alembic stills, often referred to as “palenques.” The distillation process involves heating the aguamiel to separate alcohol from water and other impurities, resulting in a high-proof mezcal.

Artisanal mezcal producers take great pride in their attention to detail and the use of traditional methods handed down through generations. Each batch of mezcal is crafted with care and expertise, and the maestro mezcalero relies on their senses and experience to determine the spirit’s quality.

best mezcal from oaxaca

Mezcal Agave Biodiversity

Oaxaca boasts an incredible agave biodiversity, making it a global hotspot for mezcal production. The region is home to over 30 different species of agave, each with its own unique characteristics and flavors.

This rich diversity is a result of the diverse microclimates, altitudes, and soil types found in Oaxaca, which provide ideal conditions for various agave species to thrive.

It is for these reasons that the best mezcal from Oaxaca is not just limited to a specific type of agave (as is the case with Tequila), but spans a diverse variety of agaves.

One of the most notable agave species found in Oaxaca is the Espadín (Agave angustifolia). This versatile agave is the backbone of the mezcal industry, accounting for the majority of mezcal production due to its relatively short maturation period, adaptability to different environments, and rich flavors.

Other popular agave varieties used for mezcal production in Oaxaca include Tobalá, Tepeztate, Madrecuixe, and Arroqueño, each offering distinct flavor profiles that reflect the unique terroir of their growing regions.

The agave biodiversity in Oaxaca also contributes to the conservation of genetic resources. The wide range of agave species found in the region provides a valuable genetic pool that can be utilized for breeding and hybridization programs, helping to improve agave resilience to pests.

However, despite its importance, agave biodiversity in Oaxaca faces various challenges. Unsustainable harvesting practices and land-use changes threaten some agave species’ populations.

As the demand for artisanal mezcal continues to grow globally, there is a need for responsible and sustainable agave management practices to ensure the preservation of this valuable biodiversity.

Various organizations, government initiatives, and local communities are working together to promote agave conservation, sustainable cultivation, and support for traditional agave cultivation methods.

By safeguarding agave biodiversity, Oaxaca can continue to be a cradle of unique flavors and traditions, ensuring the long-term sustainability of mezcal production and preserving its cultural heritage for generations to come.

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Mezcal Tasting Tips and Etiquette

Tasting Etiquette

To fully appreciate the nuanced flavors of mezcal, it is essential to follow a few simple yet essential steps during the tasting process.

Begin by selecting the appropriate glassware, preferably a small, tulip-shaped glass, which concentrates the mezcal’s aromas and allows you to savor its intricate nuances. The shape of the glass helps funnel the aromas towards your nose, enhancing the overall tasting experience.

Take a moment to observe the appearance of the mezcal, noting its clarity, color, and viscosity. High-quality mezcal will exhibit a crystal-clear appearance, with various shades ranging from pale silver to amber, depending on the aging process.

As you gently swirl the liquid in the glass, you will notice the formation of “tears” or “legs” running down the inside. These are the streaks left by the mezcal on the glass and can indicate its texture and alcohol content.

Next, bring the glass to your nose and inhale deeply, identifying the aromatic notes that may range from herbal and smoky to fruity and floral. The agave plant’s terroir and production methods greatly influence these complex aromas. Appreciate the mezcal’s bouquet, allowing your senses to explore the depth of its character.

Now, it’s time to take a small sip, allowing the mezcal to dance on your palate. Let the liquid coat your mouth, as you explore the initial flavors that greet your taste buds.

Take a moment to consider the taste sensations – is it sweet, smoky, earthy, or peppery? As you swallow, pay attention to the lingering aftertaste, which can provide further insights into the mezcal’s complexity.

To fully appreciate the mezcal’s diverse taste profile, let it rest momentarily, as it unveils additional layers of flavor. Sip slowly, savoring each moment, as the mezcal gradually unfolds, leaving a lasting impression on your palate.

By following these tasting techniques, you can fully immerse yourself in the world of mezcal, unlocking its diverse flavors and understanding the passion and craftsmanship that go into creating this exceptional spirit.

best mezcal from oaxaca

Food Pairings

The art of food pairing can enhance the tasting experience of mezcal, as it complements the spirit’s diverse flavor profiles and elevates the overall enjoyment. Exploring different combinations can unveil delightful taste sensations, revealing the complexity of this ancient Mexican spirit.

For those indulging in Espadín mezcal, a variety known for its smoky notes and earthy undertones, consider pairing it with rich and dark chocolate. The sweetness of the chocolate beautifully contrasts the mezcal’s smokiness, creating a harmonious balance of flavors that delight the palate.

Tobalá mezcal, with its fruity and floral characteristics, pairs exceptionally well with citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruits. The zesty and refreshing nature of the citrus balances the boldness of Tobalá, accentuating its bright and vibrant taste.

When savoring Mezcal Ensamble, a blend of different agave varieties with diverse flavor profiles, explore traditional Oaxacan dishes such as tlayudas or mole. These dishes are known for their complex flavors and textures, which complement the mezcal’s smoky, herbal, and spicy notes, resulting in a truly memorable dining experience.

For those seeking a more versatile and adventurous approach, experimenting with various mezcal varieties alongside an array of complementary foods can lead to surprising and delightful combinations. Consider nuts, cheeses, or even fresh fruits to discover unique taste harmonies that enhance both the mezcal and the accompanying fare.

Pairing mezcal with food not only creates a symphony of flavors but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the cultural heritage of this cherished spirit.

Whether you’re hosting a mezcal tasting event or enjoying a quiet evening of mezcal exploration, the right food pairing can elevate the experience, leaving you with a newfound admiration for the complex and diverse world of Oaxacan mezcal.

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Where Can You Try the Best Mezcal From Oaxaca?

Oaxaca offers an unparalleled opportunity for you to explore its plethora of mezcalerías, bars, and restaurants, all bursting with the best mezcal from Oaxaca.

Check out our guides to the best mezcal tastings in Oaxaca, best mezcalerias in Oaxaca and best restaurants in Oaxaca for more options than you’ll ever need.

best mezcal from oaxaca

VIII. Conclusion

Oaxacan mezcal stands proud as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and artisanal craftsmanship deeply rooted in Mexico’s heartland.

With its diverse agave varieties, distinct flavor profiles, and centuries-old traditions, mezcal offers a captivating and multifaceted drinking experience that captures the essence of Oaxaca’s spirit.

From the smoky notes of Espadín to the floral complexities of Tobalá, each mezcal variety tells a unique story of its region and production methods.

So raise your glass to the best mezcal from Oaxaca, and toast the centuries of craftsmanship and cultural significance that has made it possible.


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