The road to mezcal… and BEYOND!

2012 was definitely the year of Mezcal. Bar tenders, bloggers and cocktail geeks everywhere have been captivated by this smoky spirit that is taking the world by surprise. Mezcal, often misunderstood for a low quality spirit with a silly worm inside, has gained its place in some of the most renowned bars and restaurants in cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. But while the world is beginning to embrace it, with it’s now 8 different regions and over 30 varieties of agave, there is still a world beyond Mezcal in Mexican spirits that only a few are beginning to discover.

Some have heard of Bacanora, a mezcal produced in the northern state of Sonora, or Sotol, sometimes mistaken for Mezcal, but a Mexican spirit nevertheless. But not many know that there are actually 5 different types of Distilled Spirits of Origin in Mexico.

The Distilled Spirits of Origin are authentic mexican spirits made from different varieties of agave or maguey, or in the case of Sotol it is made from Sereque (Dasylirion), a cousin of the Agave plant, and all are produced in small batches in over 15 Mexican states.

These spirits are elaborated by small producers using traditional techniques. For example: manual harvest, underground oven roasting, natural fermentation, small batch distillation in copper stills or clay ovens, and absolutely no added artificial ingredients.


Lucky for us, a group of people in Mexico called COMANDO (Comité Nacional para la Sustentabilidad del Maguey, Mezcal y Destilados de Origen), decided to get together to make a national campaign and spread the word about the production of Mezcal, Bacanora, Sotol, Raicilla, and other Agave Spirits called: Amigos del Mezcal.

The goal of this campaign is to promote the different kinds of spirits that Mexico produces, converging into a festival on March 16th, 2013 in Mexico City called DARDO, where the general public will be able to taste and meet 80 different producers of the 5 categories of spirits.

While a small example of all of these categories can be seen in the United States, tasting spirits can never be a bad excuse to visit the Big City. So if you have plans of crossing the border any time during 2013, March and Mexico City are the place to be! In the meantime, get to know each of one the 4 friends of Mezcal:


Bacanora is technically a Mezcal, obtained from the distillation of a plant known as “Agave Yaquiana” or most commonly known as ESPADIN (Angustifolia Agave), in the state of Sonora. It takes its name from a town located in the Sierra Centro, to the east of Hermosillo, and is legally called Bacanora because it has its own Denomination of Origin, which was declared in the year 2000, limited to its historic production region.

Regulated by: Consejo Sonorense Promotor de la Regulación del Bacanora, A.C.


SOTOL is a very special Mexican spirit, made from the Dasylirion plant. These plants belong to the Nolinoideae family, closer to an elephant’s foot or Beaucarnea plant than an agave. It’s harvest, roasting, fermentation and distillation processes are very similar to the ones used when making mezcal, which is why it is commonly mistaken for one. The Sotol plant is resistant to the harsh desert winters and blazing summers. It survives a hostile environment which makes it a natural filter, where only the strongest plants survive. Sotol also has its own Denomination of Origin belonging to the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango.

Regulated by: Consejo Mexicano Regulador del Sotol, A.C.


Raicilla is a type of Mezcal made from wild agaves Lechuguilla, Inaequidens, or Maximiliana and is produced in Western Jalisco. It is currently protected by a collective trademark which protects its production and quality, and is close to becoming a Denomination of Origin.

Regulated by: Collective Trademark “Raicilla Jalisco” rules 


Other Agave Spirits are spirits that are made of the distillation of agave plants outside of all the other Denomination of Origin regions. These spirits are sometimes made identically to mezcal, however, they cannot be named ‘Mezcal’ if they are not produced in any of the 8 Mezcal producing states.

They can be found in states like Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Puebla, Sinaloa, Yucatán and Estado de México.



To know more about Mezcal and the other Mexican Spirits you can visit the official page of Amigos del Mezcal:






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