Tasting Tequila and Mezcal
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
Quick question: Do you know the difference between mezcal and tequila?
I didn’t until I took a tequila tasting class at Grand Velas Riviera Maya, a luxury all-inclusive resort where the sommelier schooled me in the differences between the two Mexican spirits.
Tequila, whether reposado, anejo or extra anejo, is made from blue agave, a particular variety of the succulent plant, and produced only in Jalisco and four other states.
Mezcal, however, while also made from the agave plant, comes from a completely different strain, grown primarily in Oaxaca state. Mezcal is “cooked” in underground ovens over wood, which gives it a distinctive smoky taste. While most tequila is between 30 and 40 percent alcohol, mezcal can contain up to 55 percent of the hard stuff, and is usually enjoyed straight up so you can really “taste the barn” in every sip.
So which tipple is right for you? You’ll have to taste them both and decide. Or, better yet, take a tequila and mezcal appreciation class at your Mexican-Caribbean resort. Beside Grand Velas, Cancun’s JW Marriott Resort & Spa and Thompson Playa Del Carmen also offer tastings that are sure to leave you educated – and, perhaps, un poquito inebriated!