Agave is the latin word for “noble.” I’d have to agree. And it produces much more than tequila, though Blue Iguana’s favorite will be tequila every time! We find it to be more controlled and versatile in flavor. In other words, it’s had a more refined lifespan.
But, Wait? What’s the Difference between Mezcal and Tequila? And Sotol? And Bacanora? Two other agave derived liqueurs most Americans have never even heard of. This particular American had never heard of Bacanora until just the other day, and there are even a few more, but let’s just break down a few.
Untill 1992, Bacanora, an agave drink made from wild harvested agaves in the state of Sonora, was still bootlegged (people were even hung for shipping Bacanora), but now, it can be found on your local liqueur store shelves. It’s flavor settles someplace between Tequila and Mezcal, but that, in itself, is quite a spectrum.
Sotol, is also processed from a wild agave from the northern regions of Mexico, like Chihuahua, and is harvested every 12-15 years. It takes much longer to produce than tequila and is incredibly smoky flavored. During a tasting, I did not find it to be something that I enjoyed sipping, nor could I imagine what you would mix it with - what would mask that strong smoke essence? It was, in affect, wild. It had a few good attributes, but this is something that is more likely to be a fad than a lasting and endearing favorite.
Raicilla, another agave drink from Jalisco is made from the smaller agave plants called the “mule’s foot.” Until recently, it was also an illegal variety of alcohol. But, now folks sell it on the roadside.
Tequila, as we know, is typically aged in rich bourbon barrels and is only distilled from the Blue Weber agave, which is harvested every 6-12 years, from the Jalisco region of Mexico.
Mezcal! This is where it gets a little exciting. Every, distilled agave product is actually a Mezcal! But, generally speaking, when we are talking about Mezcal we are discussing the agave spirit produced in the state of Oaxaca. It has a much stronger, often smokier flavor, than tequila. But, Mezcal actually describes all of the “noble” flavors of agave.
One last agave detail, and unfortunately, to burst your roasting barrels….. there has never been anything “psychedelic” about any worms that have either made it into a Mezcal. Any psychedelic properties supposedly derived from an agave plant liqueur is likely attributed to the quantity you drank and the quality of your imagination. But, hey, have fun!
So, how do I know Tequila is the best agave product? I don’t. It is highly regulated by the Mexican government which we don’t see in the other varites. But, I would say, use your pallet and trust your taste. Because of the quality of the volcanic soil and the slow batch roasting of tequila, it makes sense that the sugars in tequila have your pallet craving for more.
I just apologize it won’t be sending you on a psychedelic quest through the desert via the magical worm tale.