FIVE questions about Terroir, Tequila, Mezcal and Mezcalerias.

1. What is the meaning of "Terroir" for Tequila and Mezcal?

Nothing at all if Tequila or Mezcal are highly industrialized, but if they're not, the Terroir offers them a complexity never attained in other spirits.

2. Why is Mezcal is a generic name?

"Mezcal" is similar to the term "Eaux-de vie". There are hundreds of types of Mezcal in Mexico, influenced by the agave species, the process, the location, the local ecosystem or the distillation device that is used to make it. Tequila is a type of Mezcal.

3. What does "Mezcal" mean?

Mezcal means "cooked agave" (from Nahuat), it is the oldest known sweet food, used by Native Americans 11,000 years ago. Cooked agave contains sugars from agavins (a kind of starch) with fructose principally.

4. Are Tequila and Mezcal good for health?

Liquors and alcohol, in general, are not good for health, but sugar obtained from agavins submitted to a heat-based hydrolyzed process is the best for a diet, they are FOS (Fructooligosaccharides).

5. What does Mezcaleria mean?

In Mexico's most important urban centers, you can find bars with a wide diversity of Mezcal, for connoisseurs: they are called "Mezcalerias". Artisanal Mezcaleros (people who make handcrafted Mezcal) are involved in this revalorization of Mexican liquors, they are the "Maestros" and are willing to interact with the local population as well as foreigners. "Mezcal" Routes have been increased in the last decades.

The great success of Mezcalerias is based on the Mezcal bio-cultural diversity, revealed by ethnobotany studies made during the last 20 years by Mexicans Scientists. A Mezcaleria owner must be a "curator" of the "Art de la localité" and must be knowledgeable on biology, ecology, agriculture, history, local culture, and tasting methods.

A Tequila shot with salt and lime is a "spring breakers" thing, and not practiced by Tequila and Mezcal "connaisseurs". The Mezcaleria bar is now a trend in Mexico, where people taste a variety of terroir mezcal, from different agave species, distillation types and other categories from traditional producers.

Ana Valenzuela-Zapata


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