Tequila, Mezcal, and other agave distillates: What differentiates them?


When they ask you which agave distillates are your favorites, do you know what to answer? Let’s face it, the differences between tequila, mezcal, and other such drinks become noticeable only after you’ve tried and analyzed them many times. Knowing how to distinguish them has a certain degree of difficulty.

Destilados de agave mexicanos, diferencias en 2020 | Tequila, Mezcal,  Destilacion

Agave distillates. Differences

Mexico is a country that has an impeccable quality in the production of alcoholic beverages, the clearest example is beer. Although the commercial is one of the most sold and sought after nationally and internationally, the artisanal is gradually positioning itself among lovers of the flavor of malt and hops.

The same happens with agave distillates. Fortunately, producers have been registering various spirits with national and international authorities to achieve what is known as Denomination of Origin. This means that its production is restricted to a geographical area and protected by law.

Achieving this registration is not easy, it is subjected to certain standards that study its origin, preparation, raw material and tradition. Once it is verified that everything is genuine, it must be published in the Official Gazette of the Federation and now it is a protected product.

Here lies one of the differences between Tequila and other distillates: the geographical area of ​​production. Mezcal, bacanora, charanda, sotol and raicilla are some of the drinks derived from agave that we find in Mexico, but not all of them are made in the same place, although they follow practically the same process.

The second difference is in the type of agave from which they are derived. They may seem the same but here is an example, the Dominican plantain is not the same as the male; the cuts of beef are not the same between them even if they come from the same animal. The same happens with the more than sixty species of maguey that are in the Mexican territory.

With this, we say that yes, the root is the same but each agave distillate has characteristics that make them unique. Although they are subtle, everything counts to make a difference, and practice will make you an expert; so no way, you’ll have to sacrifice and try all of them.



This is the oldest denomination of origin in Mexico, with 44 years. 181 municipalities in five states of the country have it; Jalisco has a total of its 121 registered municipalities.

Tequila comes specifically from the Agave Tequilana Weber Variety Azul and can only be harvested in Jalisco, Nayarit, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas and Michoacán.

When tasted, it highlights sweet flavors, derived from cooking the heart of the agave.


Another of the Mexican drinks with a designation of origin.

It has 9 states registered in this inscription – Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Durango, Guerrero, Guanajuato and Michoacán – and there are some others that are struggling to enter.

It is made from the cooking of agave hearts in a stone oven with wood, which gives it characteristic smoky notes.

One of the states with the longest tradition is Oaxaca and there you can find different interpretations such as the delicious mezcal de pechuga.


He is from Sonora and obtained the designation of origin in 2000.

It is an alcoholic drink similar to tequila and mezcal, but it is made with the head of the pacific agave only, which is endemic to Bacanora.

It is generally sold with high alcoholic graduations but when tasting it, mineral notes stand out that combines with the sweetness of the maguey heart.


Unión de productores de destilados con denominación a favor de apertura -  Info Rural

It is also a drink with a designation of origin and is from Uruapan, Michoacán.

Unlike all of them, this is a sugar cane distillate that grows in the region at an altitude of 1600 to 3800 meters above sea level. It is similar to a rum so many cocktails – such as the beloved mojitos – can be substituted with charanda.

As you can imagine, the flavor is very sweet and it is because the molasses resulting from cooking the cane makes it possible to make this spirit.


Durango, Chihuahua and Coahuila produce sotol, which also has a designation of origin.

The endemic maguey is called Dasiliryon Wheeleri and is said to be a pre-Hispanic drink that for many years was made only by Tarahumara and Anazasis.

The elaboration of distillates in Mexican lands before the arrival of the Spaniards is uncertain and is not proven; however, there is some research that affirms this.

This distillate is known for its high alcohol content so, like mezcal, we recommend taking it with kisses.


Jalisco and Nayarit are the two cradle states of the raicilla and recently obtained the Denomination of Origin, specifically the regions of the Western Sierra that includes municipalities such as San Sebastián del Oeste, Mascota, Talpa de Allende, Mixtlán, Tomatlán, among others.

It is a distillate with a very high alcohol content, so it is a drink that is perceived as strong.

The flavors depend on the type of agave that was used but in general terms, you will perceive herbaceous or green notes. You also find incense for having been distilled in wood.

The records of this drink date back to the year 1600 and it is said that it was used as a medicinal remedy for its properties, fighting headaches and respiratory problems.

Up to 10 kilos of agave are needed to produce one liter of root. The species used to produce it are lechuguilla, inaequidens and maximiliana. The alcoholic strength of the liquor ranges between 35% and 45% vol.


It is a drink produced with comiteco maguey plants, a type of agave native to Comitán de Domínguez, the fourth largest city in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico.

Unlike the others, comiteco is produced by distilling fermented mead, something like pulque that evolves into brandy.

Los productos mexicanos que tienen denominación de origen | UN1ÓN |  Guanajuato


This distillate has existed since colonial times in the volcanic zone that divides Jalisco from Colima.

To make tuxca, not a single species of maguey is used, rather all those in the terroir are used, that is, more than ten types.

The cooking takes place in an underground oven with stones and firewood. Once the molasses is extracted, it is fermented at a low temperature.

The ready-made tuxca is tasted in an ox horn as soon as it comes out of the Philippine still. Due to changes in temperature, the result will be a warm, alcoholic drink with aromas of firewood and cooked agave.

Source: excelenciasgourmet.com, animalgourmet.com

Mexico Daily Post