The Real Difference Between Tequila and Mezcal

What is the difference between tequila and mezcal?

We’re here to bring you up to speed on the basics of Mexican Spirits. Let’s start off with the real differences between Tequila and Mezcal.

Tequila is Mezcal but Mezcal is not Tequila.

Think Russian Nesting Dolls. Mezcal and Tequila are both agave-based liquors. However, Tequila can only be made from one type of agave. Tequila is made from Blue Agave or Weber Agave. Unlike Tequila, Mezcal (traditional spelling: mescal) is a spirit that can be produced from upwards of 28 varieties of the agave plant from many areas of Mexico –  from the city of Oaxaca to some areas of the states of Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosi & Zacatecas. The flavor profile is very different than Tequila because it is typically smokier. If you are a Scotch drinker, Tequila is to Mezcal as what Scotch is to Whiskey.

Types of Mezcal & Tequila:

The main differences between the types of tequila are their colors and ages.

  • Blanco: Has not been aged and is thus clear and generally without the flavors aging would impart. Since it doesn’t need to age, this can be bottled immediately. Also called silver tequila.
  • Reposado: Aged in wooden barrels for 2-11 months.
  • Añejo: Aged in wooden barrels for 12+ months.

What are the Mezcals you should be trying?

Dry & balanced. It’s light aging left this Repasado with a medium intensity and just a hint of smokiness.

Because the agave was steamed rather than smoked, Zignum Silver doesn’t have a smoky flavor to it at all. It’s lightly citrusy and very clean.

Smoky & perfect for mixing. It’s a bartender favorite for smoky fruity cocktails.

And with Saucey, you can get Mezcal delivery to get all of these options sent directly to your door.

Mezcal Cocktails & Drinks

So, judgement time has come, what should you order at a restaurant to look smart?

  • Palomas

The Paloma | recipe here

  • Margaritas
Grilled Pineapple Mezcal

The Grilled Pineapple Margarita | recipe here

  • The Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail
The Mezcal Aperol Cocktail

An Aperol Cocktail |  recipe here

Showing 11 comments
  • Kip

    Great article!



  • Jonathan Odde

    “Mezcal is to tequila what Scotch is to Whiskey”…
    False. It’s actually the other way around. Tequila is a type of mezcal, just like Scotch is a type of whisk(e)y. Or, as the saying ACTUALLY goes, “All tequila (Scotch) is mezcal (whiskey), but not all mezcal (whiskey) is tequila (Scotch)”. Big difference. I get the flavor profile comparison, but the analogy is completely inaccurate.

  • Hannah


    Thank you so much for the critical (life saving, really) information on the subtle distinctions between tequila and mezcal.


    Hannah Walter

  • John

    Your analogy is backwards. Tequila is to Mezcal as Scotch is to Whiskey. All Tequilas are mezcals, just like all Scotches are whiskey. But not all mezcals are Tequilas, just like not all whiskeys are Scotch.

  • Ty

    The last statement is backwards regarding Scotch and whisk(e)y. Just as tequila is mezcal, Scotch is whiskey, but whiskey is not Scotch.

  • Susan B

    What about pulque?

    • Rich

      I think what they mean by “mescal is to tequila that scotch is to whisky” is the smoky aspect. Scotch typically Dries it barely using peat fires resulting in a Smokey flavor similar to smoked agave causing a smokier flavor that tequila.

  • Migwar

    Wrong way round..

    If tequila is mezcal, as scotch is whiskey, then

    Tequila is to mezcal, as scotch is to whiskey

    You wrote the opposite. Or am I misunderstanding?

  • Greg Zyn

    As far as I know, tequila dates back to the 17th century whereas this other thing is relatively new. They have really tried to promote it to replace tequila, but they aren’t successful.

  • Brad

    Pretty sure the author was referring to the smokiness of the Scotch and Mezcal in his statement:
    “Mezcal is to Tequila what Scotch is to Whiskey.”
    Not the generalization of Whisk(e)y and Mezcal.

    But I’m just going on what I read in the article.

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