Updated: 29 Jul 2020
Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from any type of agave. The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl mexcalli which means "oven-cooked agave", from metl and ixcalli . Agaves or magueys are found mainly in many parts of Mexico and south to the equator, though most mezcal is made in Oaxaca. It can also be made in Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacan, and the recently approved Puebla. A saying attributed to Oaxaca regarding the drink is: "Para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien, también." ("For everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well."). Whether distilled drinks were produced in Mexico before the Spanish Conquest is unknown. The Spaniards were introduced to native fermented drinks such as pulque, made from the maguey plant. Soon, the conquistadors began experimenting with the agave plant to find a way to make a distillable fermented mash. The result was mezcal. Today, mezcal is still made from the heart of the agave plant, called the piña, in much the same way as it was 200 years ago. In Mexico, mezcal is generally consumed straight and has a strong smoky flavor. Despite the similar name, mezcal does not contain mescaline or other psychedelic substances.