30 Mezcals Every Tequila-Lover Must Try

Unlike the party-favorite that is tequila, mezcal is a spirit that tends to be more mysterious to the average drinker. It's almost comical, considering that all tequilas are technically mezcal, but the same doesn't go the other way around. Tequila has pretty strict specifications for its production, while mezcal specifications are slightly more open-ended. There are nine Mexican states that mezcal is produced in. It's still distilled from 100 percent agave with no other sugar sources, but it can be created by more than 30 different types of plants (via Experience Agave). Additionally, and contrary to popular belief, mezcal doesn't always come with a worm inside.

Mezcal is usually richer and smokier than tequila, a result of the agave piñas being roasted instead of steamed. Every type of agave has its own distinct flavor, which also varies based on the region it originates from. Mezcal might not be as popular since it tends to have a higher price tag than some low-cost tequilas. The price usually reflects not only the time it takes to distill the spirit, but also the waiting game of anywhere between eight and 30 years that it takes agave plants to mature. 

Mezcal is on the rise — agave-based spirits are anticipated to surpass the sales of both whiskey and vodka by 2023 (via Bloomberg). If you're ready to transition from tequila to mezcal, we've laid out 30 must-try options to help get you better acquainted with the intensely flavorful Mexican spirit. 

Bosscal Pechuga de Conejo

Typically, we'd start out by recommending a super approachable first mezcal to try, but thanks to alphabetical order, we're starting with one of the most unique offerings of them all. Bosscal Mezcal is a line in collaboration with Wolf Spirit Distilling in Eugene, Oregon and a family-owned distillery from Durango, Mexico. Bosscal Pechuga de Conjeo is an acidic and smoky mezcal that features an added step to its distillation process. Most mezcal is distilled twice, but Bosscal does things three times. During the third distillation, the vapors of the spirit pass through a suspended, hairless rabbit breast ("conejo" is spanish for rabbit while "pechuga" translates to breast meat). The heat kills the bacteria from the raw meat, but the fat and juices from the animal are infused into the mezcal and add a memorable flavor. 

As far as mezcals go, it's not uncommon for brands to experiment with the pechuga-style of distilling. However, for a novice, it might sound a bit exotic. The final product is slightly fruity, mainly with notes of citrus coming out. It's a limited-edition product from the brand, as it's distilled with local apples that have a short harvesting window. It's also about $100 a bottle, so it can be a bit of a splurge. If you can't get your hands on this, Bosscal has also been distilling a joven (aka "young" in Spanish) mezcal since 2015 that's a great alternative. 

Bozal Tobasiche

Espadín is the most common type of agave used in mezcal, but there are so many varieties that distillers like to play with outside of the staple, which is popular due to its relatively short maturation span of 6 to 8 years (via Wine Mag). Bozal has its renditions of Espadín mezcal that are great, but Bozal Tobasiche, which is distilled from a subspecies of the Karwinskii family of wild agave, is a noteworthy bottle to seek out. The agave takes at least 12 years to mature in the region of Rio de Ejutla in Oaxaca, but it's worth the wait. Bozal means "wild" or "untamed" in Spanish, referencing the brand's use of wild-grown agave. 

Bozal Tobasiche definitely features notes that lean more earthy and herbaceous. It's distilled using ancient methods — cooking piñas in earth ovens, featuring open-air fermentation, and double distilling the product through clay pots. This is all done in small-batches that are a maximum of 60 liters each, meaning that every bottle has its own specific flavors to explore. A bottle will cost you $65 as of June 2022, which is a fair price for such a fine spirit. "I had a sip.... WOW. It was cowabonga in a taste form," one review on Total Wine reads. 

Clase Azul Mezcal Durango

Clase Azul is known for its pricy tequila sold in bottles that can only be described as works of art. The company has also ventured into mezcal, and it's also worth trying at least once, if at the very least because it's nice to look at. Clase Azul Mezcal Durango is named after the Cenizo agave it is distilled from, which is a wild variety grown in the North Mexican state of Durango. It's a joven mezcal, meaning it's an unaged spirit that is clear and crisp. It's smoky like any good mezcal, with hints of sweetness and fruitiness that round it out. 

It's one of those mezcals that is a good way to convert tequila drinkers to the smoky side. "I have had mezcal before and always liked tequila better. This mezcal changed my perception. It [sic] incredibly smooth and savory, with a delicious note of vanilla and caramel," one review on Flaviar reads. If you shell out the $250+ for a bottle of Clase Azul Durango, you also get to keep the beautiful matte black decanter with a hand-beaded top to use as decoration on your bar (via Total Wine). 

Convite coyote

We promise we'll get to plenty of more traditional Espadín mezcals, but we want to make sure to be able to recommend a wide variety of options available in the category of agave-distilled liquor. Convite Coyote is another mezcal that uses 100% wild coyote agave that takes 12 years to mature. It's distilled using traditional methods in the Zapotec mountains of San Baltazar Guelavila, Tlacolula, located in the Sierra Madre del Sur. The mezcal is naturally fermented with spring water and features no added chemicals. The result is a full-bodied liquor with notes of dried fruit, florals, and a bit of nuttiness. It's a good mezcal to try that is more complex than just being smoke-forward, but still with that traditional roasted agave quality that makes mezcal so lovable. 

Fans on Mezcal Reviews also commented Convite Coyote for being a smooth and more subtle mezcal. "Perfect mezcal for pairing with the rich Tlacolula gastronomy. I can't wait to go back to Oaxaca and visit their tasting room," one reviewer wrote. A bottle of Convite Coyote is selling for $150 on Drizly

Cruz de Fuego Tepextate

The mother and son duo of Margarita Blas and Carlos Mendez Blas are responsible for creating the elaborate Oaxacan-distilled mezcal Cruz de Fuego Tepextate. It's worth seeking out, as are the majority of Cruz de Fuego's line of spirits. The Tepextate is special because the agave of the same name can take up to 25 years to mature before it can be harvested. It's a luscious and aromatic mezcal with hints of sweet fruity and spicy jalapeños. "Overall this is extremely balanced and easy going, with gentle flavors, nothing in your face other than the fresh salty finish," one user on Mezcal Reviews wrote about the spirit. 

Cruz de Fuego Tepextate features piñas that are roasted in earth ovens underground for 5 days. Then, the agave hearts are milled with tahona, a traditional stone wheel pulled by a horse. It's a pretty standard practice for mezcal, but one that might not be commonly known to the average drinker. A bottle is selling on Drizly for about $100 as of June 2022. 

Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal

If you're looking to try authentic mezcal, Del Maguey is an absolute must. The brand's been distilling its own mezcal for more than 25 years. An added layer of spirits is the brand's village series of mezcal with bottles named after the villages they are distilled in. One of the best expressions from Del Maguey is the Chichicapa mezcal, created by a father-son duo in the village of San Baltazar, Chichicapa. This blend is twice distilled from Espadín agave that is matured for 8 years or less. It contains notes of roasted agave, dried fruit, almond, and hints of chocolate. 

Del Maguey Chichicapa is also marked by a distinguished smoke flavor that's accompanied by some heat. " There are flavors here that I can describe only as 'vegetal' and 'mineral' and 'smoky', none of which do it justice," one review on Distiller reads. "This is really, really, good. Stunningly, amazingly good. It offers a fresh, clean change from whisky." A bottle is selling on Drizly for $75, so it's a middle-of-the-road priced mezcal considering the other bottles on the shelf. 

Derrumbes Durango

Since 1997, an area of Mexico was granted the status of Denomination of Origin for mezcal, basically meaning that's it's officially recognized as the only area that true mezcal can be produced (via Experience Agave). In the DO region, Durango is the most North Eastern state and the namesake of Derrumbes' fruity and fresh Durango mezcal. This blend is distilled from the wild agave durangensis, also known as cenizo which means "ash" in Spanish, marked by the color of the agave variety (via Speciality Brands). Using the traditional distillation process, Derrumbes creates a balanced mezcal marked by a blend of smoke, spice, herbs, earthy notes, and fruit. 

U/theagavefairy on Reddit gave a full review of Derrumbes' mezcal line and sang praise for the Durango blend. "Very approachable with just enough minerality for depth, very little smoke though some trickles on the finish," the user review reads. "I really like this region's mezcal. Approachable fruit, clay, not too smoky. A clean and fun profile that's versatile and engaging." A bottle of Derrumbes Durango also sells for about $75 (via Bitters and Bottles). 

Doña Vega Espadín

Doña Vega Espadín is an Oaxacan-produced mezcal that costs only $50 a bottle, but has an amazing depth of flavor (via Mash and Grape). This organic and small-batch mezcal brand was founded by and is produced by a team of Mexican women. The company has two expressions since debuting on the market, and the Espadín is one that can simply and sneakily become your mezcal of choice to keep at your home bar. 

Doña Vega Espadín is produced in a small town outside fo Oaxaca City and epitomizes the flavors of a joven Espadín mezcal. It's a clean liquor with a robust amount of smoke and pepper on the tongue that isn't overwhelming. It's balanced out with some slight hints of fruit and salt to add depth. "Smooth and not too smoky. Easy to sip on a single cube," one customer review on Mash and Grape reads. 

Don Mateo Alto

Don Mateo Alto is an offering that's a bit different than the rest of the bunch, but it's still a crystal clear spirit that's a strong sipper. This blanco mezcal is distilled from 100 percent agave inaequidens at the Michoacán Distillery of Traditional Mezcal by the 6th generation of mezcaleros in the family. The variety is wild and takes anywhere from 8 to 14 years to mature before it's twice distilled and bottled into the spirit we know and love (via Don Mateo). 

This is definitely a very earthy mezcal with notes of wood, herbs, grass, and tobacco strung together with a bit of smoke. "Really complex, well done. Big fan of this expression, and its a really great companion to sit with for a while to take it all in," one user wrote on Mezcal Reviews about Don Mateo Alto. Like we mentioned, it's a good sipper — particularly because a bottle sells for around $100 on Drizly as of June 2022, so you wouldn't want to go through it too quickly. 

El Jolgorio Ancestral Coyote

A truly unique mezcal that you must try if you happen upon a bottle is El Jolgorio's Ancestral Coyote. It's a special bottle because it was distilled from Casa Cortes in Oaxaca City's first female master Mezcalera Justina Ruiz Perez. It's a 100% coyote agave mezcal that is produced in the ancestral tradition in small-batches (via Back Bar Project). It marks an important merging of Oaxaca mezcal tradition with progressive ideas in the field, and resulted in a darn tasty bottle of booze. 

It's a tough bottle to find, but luckily El Jolgoria has other expressions of mezcal that are solid picks. When looking on Distiller, El Jolgorio's Pechuga mezcal is the top-rated of the bunch. As for the Ancestral Coyote, it's a mind-bending explosion of flavors that ever mezcal fan should experience once. "It was a little intense upon first taste, and a little bit mellower upon second taste," one user wrote on Mezcal Reviews. "I have a few this will be worth holding for a while and letting it develop and mellow."

El Silencio Espadín

El Silencio Espadin is a brash Espadín mezcal with an intimidating dark bottle to match. Don't let it scare you away — the smoky liquid inside is a must-try, particularly in your favorite cocktail. Instead of reaching for your run-of-the-mill blanco tequila for a margarita or paloma, try El Silencio and take your tastebuds on a fiery adventure. This mezcal does sway spicy, but it's not like it hits you in the face with smoke like you're sitting on the wrong side of the bonfire. It can be sipped, but drinking it in cocktails is really the way to go with this one. Its full-bodied feel adds a richness to cocktails to perfectly cut through the acid and sweetness, ending in an intensely complex yet balanced drink.

El Silencio Espadin comes from the Valle del Silencio in Oaxaca. Even though it's definitely packing heat, it's surprisingly smooth for a mezcal. "Smelled like a charcoal grill after cooking ribs," one review on Distiller reads. "I would buy this for days of grilling out and it would be a good mixer for a mezcal Bloody Mary or for taco night." Another reason it's a good mixer — a bottle is selling for just over $35 on Drizly

Gracias A Dios Cuishe

Gracias a Dios translates to "Thank you God" in Spanish, which is exactly what you'll be shouting after you try this Cuishe mezcal. Gracias a Dios distills this mezcal from a wild Kawinskii agave that takes 13 years to mature, and stands out for featuring a piña that grows out of the ground. It's double-distilled in the central valleys of Oaxaca, and the brand was established in 2010 and partnered with its master mezcalero Oscar Hernandez a couple of years later (via Thank GAD). 

There are a lot of flavors going on in Gracias a Dios Cuishe, but all of them channel natural elements. It's earthy like wet grass, spicy like white pepper and cinnamon, and slightly fruity with notes of apples and lemon. Thankfully, this Cuishe has a dense body to hold up all of the flavors. "The 100% Cuixe has really nice green tones on the palate, that is pleasant and it develops with smokiness that is well balanced," one user wrote on Mezcal Reviews

Ilegal Mezcal Joven

Ilegal is a very popular brand of mezcal that's pretty easy to find around the U.S., and luckily, it's tasty enough to want to order again and again. If you're looking for a good starting place, Ilegal Mezcal Joven is one bottle you can't go wrong with. It's an Espadín agave that's double-distilled in the Santiago Matatlan Valley of Oaxaca. The company values protecting the environment and running a sustainable business to protect the region its distilled in. Ilegal might sound like the bad boy on the block, but the brand is committed to doing good for the environment. 

As for the flavor, it's a full-body drink that's a little lighter on the smoke if that isn't your thing. It also features notes like eucalyptus, green apple, and citrus fruits, which each add a pleasant freshness. A bottle is selling for just $40 on Total Wine, so it's also an affordable pick. "Simply incredible, big agave flavor up front with tropical fruit notes on the finish. I bought this for a camping trip on the beach and it was empty by the end of the first night," one review on Total Wine's website reads. 

Lagrimas de Dolores Anejo

If you're looking for a mezcal with a little more oomph, check out Lagrimas de Dolores Anejo. This aged spirit is distilled at Hacienda Dolores in Durango, which was originally built in the 17th century. It's distilled from a species of agave durangensis, native to the region of Northern Mexico. The spirit is aged in oak barrels for at least a year, resulting in a deep amber liquid with depth that can rival any good whiskey. Thanks to the oak, it's heavy with flavors of wood, roasted agave, and a bit of chocolate. It's definitely a drink meant for sipping, or an interesting swap in your typical old-fashioned cocktail. 

"I found this Mezcal extremely pleasant, having drank mostly Mezcal from Oaxaca this was an excellent change in profile and taste," one review on Dan Murphy's website reads. "The addition of the aging in this expression works well with the agave notes, does not overpower it but adds some subtle notes of carmel and cinammon[.]"

Lalocura San Martinero

On the pricier end of the spectrum, Lalocura San Martinero is one of those bucket-list mezcals to treat yourself to when the time is right. This agave variety helms from a subspecies of the Karwinskii plant family called San Martinero, which is notably thick, large, and takes 15 years to mature. This bottle, which sells for $150, originates from San Catarina Minas, Oaxaca (via Third Base Market and Spirits). 

As far as flavor, Lalocura San Martinero has the satisfying essence of pairing fruit and chocolate. It has a creamy mouthfeel that pairs well with the slight sweetness, combined with earthy and slightly savory elements to remain balanced. One user on Mezcal Reviews wrote that it was easy to pick San Martinero as the stand-out from Lalocura's line-up. "Rich, complex, and deeply satisfying. I actually purchased a second bottle, with no reservations about the expenditure," the review reads. "Magic in a bottle and definitely splurge-worthy." 

La Luna Mezcal Cupreata

If you're looking to expand your palate of artisanal mezcal, La Luna Cupreata is a budget-friendly option that is rich in flavor. Unlike some other in-your-face bottles, La Luna Cupreata is light, citrusy, and heavy on the floral elements. Of course, there's a hint of smoke, but it's not the star of the show in this drink. La Luna is selling this bottle for $45 as of June 2022, so there's no excuse to not freshen up your bar with a bottle of something different. 

Many reviews on Distiller point out the ideal price for a bottle of mezcal in general, but particularly one that isn't in the Espadín category. "I was prepared for this to be an interesting dram that would linger. Delightfully, this is really enjoyable. I need to keep my eye open for more cupreata and more La Luna," one review on the website reads. 

La Medida Madrecuishe

La Medida Madrecuishe is another sweeter mezcal that has its own distinctness, thanks to a particular subspecies of Madrecuishe agave. La Medida is also another brand that employs the artisanal distilling process — cooking piñas in earth ovens for at least three days, using high-quality water for fermentation, and distilled twice in a bare-fire copper pot still. The result not only has fruity notes, but also an additional floral sweetness that's rounded out with a bit of wood and mint. "It coats the mouth a bit and lingers in a good way. Probably the best La Medida out of the ones that I've tried," one user wrote on Mezcal Reviews about the bottle. 

Remember how we keep saying the more uncommon the mezcal, the higher the price? This is a pretty good example as it costs $120 a bottle, but it definitely won't go to waste if you splurge on a treat (via Old Town Tequila). 

La Venenosa Raicilla Costa

From the village of Llano Grande of Cabo Corrientes, Jalisco comes La Venenosa Raicilla Costa, a flavor explosion in a bottle. The mezcaleros use a mix of two breeds of agave: Rhodecantha, which takes 12 years to mature, and Angustifolia, which takes 8 years to mature. It's double-distilled in a Filipino still made out of copper and a hollowed out tree trunk. The uniqueness doesn't end at the process — the flavor is hard to pin down, and requires a few sips to really comprehend. 

La Venenosa Raicilla Costa has an insane amount of flavors going on at once. It's almost reminiscent of a good blue cheese, but don't let that turn you off from trying it. There are notes of mint, herbs, white pepper, fruit, and smoke. In a review on Distiller, one user described the flavors as something like a bouquet of different flowers that go together perfectly. "One of the craziest things I've ever tasted, but so intriguing you have to keep sipping just to see what flavors come up next," another review on the website reads. 

Mal Bien Zacatoro Barranca

Some of the most magical mezcals are the result of traditions passed down from generation to generation among native Mexican mezcaleros. Mal Bien Zacatoro, from the grandfather/grandson duo of Ciro and Javier Barranca, is a prime example. The pair are from Ahuacuotzintla, Chilapa de Alvarez, Guerrero and represent two different but cohesive generations of mezcal craftsmen. Javier is in his 30s and still fresh into his mezcalero career, while his grandfather is 84 and has been working in the field for his entire life. 

Mal Bien features many bottles of mezcal from different mezcaleros, but the Barranca Zacatoro is a must-try if you stumble upon a rare bottle. "It's simply wonderful and tastes amazingly cohesive. All of the flavors are working in perfect harmony," u/rye_am_legend wrote in a review on Reddit. "Overall this is a must buy but if you can only find it at a mezcaleria, kill the bottle at the bar."

Mezcal de Leyendas Maguey Coyote

Coyote mezcal is pretty unpredictable and can vary from bottle to bottle, so it's worth sampling different expressions to get a grasp on the flavor of wild agave. Mezcal de Leyendas Maguey Coyote is a solid option worth adding to your list that is made in Sola de Vega, Oaxaca. It's a blanco that's distilled with 100% Agave americana oaxacensis (also known as coyote) that takes 8 to 10 years to mature. The spirit distilled from the plant epitomizes the earth it came from, with the flavor being dominated (in a good way) by toasted agave. 

Vine Pair's review of the spirit points out notes of citrus, aloe vera, and minerals with a little smoke in the background. "My favorite of the 3 new Leyenda expressions that I sampled," one user wrote on Mezcal Reviews. "It's a bit expensive at around $130 a bottle but it's really good."

Montelobos Espadín

Montelobos is another super accessible and affordable brand to explore the intricacies of mezcal. The brand's unaged joven mezcal is distilled from Espadín agave in Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca. This is a smooth spirit with agave, herbs, nuts, and a touch of smoke leading the taste. The brand likes to honor the Mexican tradition of pairing sipping mezcal with homemade salts and seasonal fruits, and recommends that their customers do the same. The pairing adds a whole other level to the mezcal drinking experience, and is a simple technique that should be implored with other mezcals on the list to really open up even more flavor in every expression. 

Montelobos Espadín is also a great price at $40 a bottle (via Total Wine). "This is my favorite mezcal on the market right now. Haven't tried that many other brands of mezcal mostly because this Montelobos is such a great price and an incredible spirit to sip neat," one review on the retailer website reads. "Mezcal has become my go to spirit thanks to this bottle."

Neta Espadín

Neta is a brand that showcases mezcals created from several small-family producers in Oaxaca, so literally no two products are alike. It's almost funny to suggest the brand's Espadín, because there are a few expressions created from different types of Espadín agave plants that taste completely unalike. However, it seems that regardless of where exactly your Neta bottle is originating from, you're bound to encounter the unexpected once you pop it open. 

The notes can vary from bottle to bottle, but each batch tends to expand the drinker's idea of what an Espadín mezcal can be. Many user reviews point out notes of pineapple and other fresh fruits, but it only gets more complicated from there. "Different than your typical Espadín, in a really good way. Neta is putting out some of the best Espadíns I've tried lately," one user wrote on Mezcal Reviews about their bottle. 

Ojo de Tigre Mezcal Artesanal

Ojo de Tigre translates to "eye of the tiger" in Spanish, and the brand was inspired by a semi-precious stone worn in ancient times that people once believed offered good fortune and protection. That's a lofty name for a mezcal, but luckily the blend inside is pretty spectacular all on its own. Ojo de Tigre is a blend of Espadín from Oaxaca and Tobala from Puebla. The end resulted is a perfectly layered execution of a smoky mezcal that's accompanied by the sweet caramel and bright fruit flavors.

Ojo de Tigre will give you the perfect amount of smoke while also expanding your palate to taste a blend of two different agave types in one bottle. "Eye opening Mezcal! I love tequila and I'm now trying to get into Mezcals. Many of them are either too expensive or too smokey for my liking. Ojo de Tigre is by far the best one I've tried at that price point," one review on Total Wine reads. That reminds us — this bottle costs just $38 at Total Wine as of June 2022, which is a steal for the liquor category. 

Peloton de La Muerte Criollo

If you're looking to delve into some really novel agave flavors, Peloton de la Muerte has a mezcal distilled from 100 percent Maguey Criollo. It's not the bottle for those who like the taste of light and sweet liquors, but for those who are looking for a full-bodied spirit with a savory side. There are notes of ash and salt that stand out, with some acidity from citrus fruits and sweetness from chocolate to round it out. It's definitely one of the bottles on the list meant for sipping, but you could get creative with some unexpected cocktails if you're feeling inspired. 

The most distinguishing factor of Peloton de la Muerte is its extremely thick mouthfeel. "This one's got some heft and body to it," one user wrote on Judge Me. "If you like your mezcal a bit funky and sweaty, this one's for you. And it's at a great price." A bottle sells for $45 on Drizly as of June 2022. 

Producer Mezcal Ensamble

Another solid blend for those just getting into mezcal is Producer's Ensamble, which is a blend of Espadín and Cuishe mezcal varieties that take 7 and 9 years to mature, respectively. The really memorable aspect about this bottle is that the maestro Erastro Hernandez Martinez roasts the piñas of the agave plant with a bag of various chiles, including ancho, pasilla, and guajillo, for an even more sharp infusion. 

The process sounds more intimidating than the finished product, which is a smooth spirit with an earthy qualities. The chiles in Producer Ensamble add some depth to the smoke, which is accompanied with pleasant vegetal, floral, and fruity notes. If you sip on this bottle slowly enough, you can start to distinguish the two competing flavors working in harmony and figure out which agave variety is to credit. Producer Ensamble is created in Tlacolula de Matamoros, Oaxaca and sells for $45 a bottle (via Mash & Grape). 

Real Minero Largo Becuela

The end of the alphabet on this list wraps up with some must-try mezcal blends, like Real Minero Largo Becuela from Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca. This bottle features Largo Karwinskii agave, harvested after 14 years, and a Becuela Marmorata plant, which takes 20 years to mature. Similarly to Producer, this Real Minero is remembered for its floral and vegetal notes, thanks to the two distinct types of agave plants. It's definitely a tricky bottle to get your hands on, but you also can't go wrong with trying any bottle from Real Minero. "Solid Mezcal. Earthy and robust agave. The clay distillation comes through nicely, and ends with peppery spice. Does not disappoint, which is what I've come to expect with Real Minero," one user wrote on Mezcal Reviews

Other users also suggest that if you come across a rare bottle of Real Minero Largo Becuela, do not hesitate to buy it. It's a tough blend to track down, so you also can't go wrong with the brand's straight-up Largo mezcal, which sells for $160 a bottle (via Caskers).

Rey Campero Tepextate

Rey Campero Tepextate is another mezcal that is distilled from agave that takes its time to mature — 15 to 18 years, on average, but it's also worth being patient for. With a name that translates to "King of the Countryside" in Spanish, Rey Campero comes with high expectations. The Oaxacan mezcal is a balancing act of savory, smoke, and spice. There are so many notes to discover, with flavors of jalapeños and citrus juice making themselves stand out amidst the pepper, cinnamon, and dozens of other flavors hiding inside this unassuming spirit. 

One review on Distiller points out specific flavors of grilled vegetables, blue cheese, and bright citrus. "I'm still very happy to have this barbecued meat and veggie fruit platter in my cabinet," the review reads. This mezcal is a labor of love, which is reflected in its $115 price tag as of June 2022 (via Drizly). 

Union Viejo

Mezcal Union Viejo is another Oaxacan mezcal distilled in the artisanal style that features a blend of Espadín and Tobala agave plants. It's another solid option for those looking for less smoke on the tongue, or to use to persuade any tequila loyalists in your life to try something new. The Tobala agave takes 14 years to mature, so it's another bottle that is years in the making. The notes that jump out immediately include mint, cinnamon, and other herbs with a slight taste of tropical fruit. It's also described as having a buttery mouthfeel, which adds a smooth finish that is a pleasant compliment to the peppery smoke. 

Union Viejo sells for $50 on Total Wine as of June 2022, and customers who decided to treat themselves to a bottle seem to be pretty satisfied with the purchase. "What an amazing Mezcal. Totally blew my mind," one Total Wine review reads. 

Vago Elote

If you've been to a Mexican restaurant, you might recognize elote as the loaded corn on the cob dish. Vago and master mezcalero Aquilino García López created a mezcal that is a traditional Espadín, but is infused during its second distillation with toasted corn to add flavor. The corn is removed before the spirit is distilled a third time, resulting in a spirit that's almost like a cross between mezcal and bourbon. It features notes of vanilla and sweetness from the roasted corn, with the smoky spice you want from a mezcal. 

Vago Elote is a one-of-a-kind bottle, but the price is so reasonable that anyone can try it. Drizly is selling a bottle for about $60 as of June 2022, making it a great gift for someone (or yourself) who needs to venture out when it comes to drinks. "For the approachable price of $60, the Elote shows that mezcal is a spirit worth exploring in detail," one user wrote on Mezcal Reviews. "I buy this bottle regularly and it never disappoints." 

Vamonos Riendo Mezcal

Vamonos Riendo mezcal is one of those bottles that will look great on your bar, but that you'll also struggle to not drink quickly because it's so good. It's a triple-distilled Artesanal mezcal with a special twist. Pechuga-style mezcals typically feature the breast meat of an animal, but Vamonos Riendo makes a vegan-style pechuga to amp up the Espadín and Tobala mezcal blend. Notes in this bottle include cocoa, herbs, pineapple, honey, anise, citrus, and the list goes on. 

Vamonos Riendo Joven sells for about $65 a bottle, so it's another easy bottle to try once that you might end up purchasing on repeat (via Drizly). "It's a great, neat sipper with all those delicious fruit notes," one user wrote on Mezcal Reviews. "I'm told it works well in a cocktail, but once I pour it into the glass, I always forget the rest of the recipe and just start drinking."