Why Del Maguey Is One Of The Most Authentic Mezcals You Can Buy

People generally fall into one of three categories: they love mezcal, they hate mezcal, or they don't know what mezcal is or why you're asking them about it. If you fall into that third category, or perhaps vaguely recall seeing mezcal on a bar menu, we've got you covered on what you need to know, including details on one brand that deeply focuses on making it traditionally.

First of all, let's talk tequila. You've probably encountered this plant-based liquor before, most likely in that salty señorita, the margarita. Both tequila and mezcal are made from the agave plant, which is sometimes called the "century plant," or, in Spanish, maguey. But according to Food & Wine, for an agave liquor to be called tequila, it must be made specifically from blue agave, in the Tequila region of Mexico (much like true champagne only coming from the Champagne region of France). The fact is, "mezcal" is a blanket term for any agave-based liquor, so...if you've ever had tequila, you've technically already had mezcal.

Mezcal made the old fashioned way

Mezcal it by any name you like, the smoky sister of tequila is still a polarizing beverage. That's because although mezcal can be made from any type of agave (and there are more than 30 of them, reports Food & Wine), the method by which the plant is cooked — with earth and wood, in a lava rock-lined pit that has been carved into the ground — results in a pretty strong flavor, according to Del Maguey. This particular brand has remained incredibly traditional in its production and distillation methods, earning it the title of authentic mezcal for over 25 years.

Del Maguey tops lists (like last year's 10 Best Mezcal Brands To Drink Right Now in Esquire) not only because it adheres to the old ways of production, but because each type (or "expression") that the brand puts forward can be traced back to a specific village and an individual family. For example, the VIDA expression, Del Maguey's entry-level mezcal, is made in the Oaxaca region by the Cruz Nolasco family in the San Luis del Rio village. According to Del Maguey's website, the brand was the first to credit each expression back to the village and family that produced the liquor. Given the time, resources, and labor that go into making mezcal the indigenous way, it's only fair to get your name on the finished product!