What is Mezcal?
Mezcal, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from agave plants that are native to Mexico. The word “mezcal” comes from the indigenous language Nahuatl “mexcalmetl,” which means agave or maguey that has been cooked. This sweet cooked agave is mashed, fermented and double distilled to make MEZCAL.
Mezcal also has a magic and religious connotation within Mexican culture. It is recognized as an excellent world quality distilled beverage, thanks to its fine aromas, unique flavors and high quality. In the nineteenth century, colonial aristocrats liked Mezcal so much that they used to call it “Mexican Cognac”, because of its exquisite and delicious flavors.
The agave plant was revered throughout ancient Mexico. It provided alcohol, food, firewood, medicine, building materials and fiber for cloth and rope. Agaves are succulents that have approximately 180 varieties that are native to Mexico which grow throughout the county. In Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico, they use the term “maguey” to refer to the agave plants. There are about 28 varieties of agave that have the sugar content necessary for producing distilled spirits, ie. Mezcal. Most mezcal is made in the state of Oaxaca.
There are several theories as to the origin of mezcal distillation. This is an unknown world with a long history, Pre-Columbian maybe BC. The origins of this ancient product took centuries to develop, and research show traces of this development in many parts of Mexico.
Imagine if the tortilla took 800 years to develop once people started to eat corn, how long did it take to develop distilled spirits?
No matter how long it took, these crafty indigenous people did it.
Mezcal is the oldest distilled spirit in North America.
Various drinks were originally made from the juice collected from the mature maguey plant. The sap or juice collected from one variety of agave was called “agua miel” or honey water. It can be consumed by itself as a delicious fresh juice. If it is left alone for a few days the juice ferments into pulque, an alcoholic beverage like a hard apple cider.
The anthropologists have detected the most ancient ritual of indigenous ceremonial consumption of alcohol. This consists of indigenous people boiling a fermented liquid, probably pulque, and covering the boiling pot with a cotton cloth. When the cloth got wet with the alcoholic vapor, they wrung it out getting the precious alcoholic liquor.
The first mezcal shots were invented!!!!!YEAH!!!!!!
You can bet that this ritual really got cooking. I can envision ceremonies ( parties) where they have 20 pots boiling and every 5 min wringing out cloths, a town fair or ceremony could really get animated with this alcoholic beverage.
Probably an indigenous dance followed.
As technology develop over the centuries the clay jug with a bamboo condensation system emerged to collect the alcohol. Ie. The shots probably got better since they came out around 20%alc/vol.
Arqueologists are trying to pin this date down to a 1400BC site that is being studied.
Eventually someone got the big idea to double distill the alcohol.
This process yields a 45 to 50% alc/vol. mezcal.
At some point cooking different varieties of agave developed. When certain varieties are cooked the starches convert to sweet sugars, which can be eaten as candy or mashed and fermented.
When the Spanish arrived in the late 1500s they began distilling the pulque or some fermented agave mash in their copper stills, stills that were invented and designed by the moors.
Modern Mezcal can range from the most primitive distillation system to modern industrial production.
Mezcal is produced in several “Mezcal Regions”in Oaxaca. The regions producing mezcal are formed by the following municipalities: San Agustìn de las Juntas, Sola de Vega, Miahuatlán, Yautepec, Santiago Matatlàn, Oclotàn, Ejutla and Zimatlán.