How is Mezcal Made?

Mezcal, a spirit representing the rich cultural history of Mexico, intertwines traditional and ancestral practices and biodiversity to offer a uniquely smoky and complex beverage. 

Let’s explore the journey from the mezcal plant to the bottle together.

The Mezcal Plant: What is it Made From?

To understand Mezcal we have to understand the agave plant, which plays a pivotal role in the spirit’s production and flavor profile. 

Not to be mistaken with a cactus, this succulent plant, often referred to as mezcal maguey, thrives in Mexico’s arid climates. 

Mezcal can be crafted from various agave species, including the coyote agave, each contributing its own unique notes to the final spirit.

While both mezcal and tequila originate from agave, tequila is strictly made from blue agave, offering a contrast to mezcal’s versatile agave mezcal options. 

If you want to delve deeper in the intriances between the most famous spirits of Mexico history, we invite you read our dedicated post about what is the difference between tequila and mezcal

Agave Plant: what is mezcal made from

Making Mezcal: How do they Make it?

The crafting of mezcal is an art with centuries-old methods with a deep reverence for the agave plant. 

By reviewing the steps of the mezcal-making process, one can also be part of the evolution of Mexico’s history itself: 


Agave harvesting: one of the process to make mezcal

Mezcal production begins with the harvesting of the mezcal agave plant. 

Maestro mezcaleros and jimadores, skilled harvesters, wield a specialized tool known as a “coa de jima” or simply “coa,” which features a round, sharp blade at the end of a long wooden pole.

Their task is to strip away the long, spiky leaves of the agave, revealing the heart, or piña, hidden within.


The harvested agave, or piñas, are then roasted in earthen pits, contributing to mezcal’s signature smoky flavor. 

Cooking Agave Piñas: one of the process to make mezcal

This stage of the mezcal-making process distinctly characterizes the spirit, with every region’s soil imparting a specific and unique touch to the flavor


In many traditional mezcal productions, burros play an essential role in crushing the roasted agave to extract the vital juices and fibers after the fermentation.

Utilizing a method called the “Tahona” process, a large stone wheel, often pulled by a burro, crushes the cooked agave. 

This process, although labor-intensive and time-consuming, is favored in traditional mezcal making for its ability to preserve the agave’s rich flavors and the nuances imparted by the particular terroir. 

The fermented liquid, now enriched with the agave’s essence, moves to the distillation phase.

Mashing: one of the process to make mezcal


Once roasted and crushed, the agave fibers and extracted juices are placed in wooden vats or animal hides to ferment. 

Before the distilled spirit can reach its pinnacle of character, there’s an inherent beauty and science in the pre-distillation phase, especially in how the fermented liquid is prepared.


Typically, it undergoes a double distillation process in either pot or column stills, refining and intensifying the spirit’s unique flavor profile. 

Through each meticulous step, from the ancestral methods of crushing agave to the careful distillation, mezcal manifests as a spirit deeply entwined with the traditions and natural elements of its origin. 
If you want to take a look at more information on the Mezcal Production, here you can read about the regions and where Mezcal is Made.

Mezcal is not merely a beverage; it is a craft perfected over generations, respecting the mezcal agave plant and honoring traditional practices to produce a spirit that genuinely reflects Mexico’s rich biodiversity and culture.

Mezcal Bottle: final process of the making of Mezcal

FAQs about Mezcal

What makes mezcal smoky in flavor?

The smoky flavor in mezcal is primarily derived from the way the agave hearts, or piñas, are roasted. 

Unlike other spirits, the piñas for mezcal are cooked in underground earthen pits lined with hot stones. 

This roasting process, which can last several days, infuses the agave with a distinct smoky aroma and flavor that carries through to the final product.

What is mezcal made out of?

Mezcal is made from the heart, or piña, of the agave plant. While there are over 30 types of agave that can be used to produce different types of mezcal, the most common is the Espadín agave. 

The type of agave, combined with the region where it’s grown and the methods used in production, contribute to the diverse range of flavors and profiles found in different mezcals.

What are the Mexican liquors made from agave?

There are several Mexican liquors made from the agave plant, with Mezcal and Tequila being the most renowned globally. 

While both originate from agave, the types of agave used, production processes, and regional influences differentiate them.


Mezcal is not merely a beverage; it is a craft perfected over generations, respecting the mezcal agave plant and honoring traditional practices to produce a spirit that genuinely reflects Mexico’s rich biodiversity and culture.

Through an exploration of how mezcal is made, we are invited to appreciate not just the spirit itself, but also the tradition, craftsmanship, and biodiversity encapsulated in each bottle.

At Del Maguey, we uphold these values with paramount importance, ensuring that every collection embodies these virtues as a priority.