Why Mezcal Is Expensive

If we compare it to other spirits, Mezcal tends to be a pricy spirit. This has led many enthusiasts and newcomers wondering: why is Mezcal so expensive?

The answer lies ironically in what makes Mezcal so unique: the intricate and traditional processes involved in its production, and the time it takes from the cultivation of the agave plant to the amazing bottle of Mezcal.

In this post, we’ll explore the various factors that contribute to the cost of Mezcal, offering insights into the care, tradition, and challenges behind every bottle and so, when you decide to buy a bottle of Mezcal, you won’t be only thinking about it’s price tag, but in what it represents.

Understanding the Agave Growth Process

The journey of Mezcal begins with its core ingredient: the agave plant. The most used one is the Espadín one and it can take anywhere from 7 up to 14 years from the time it’s planted to the time it’s harvested.

But there are also some types of Agave, like Tobolá, that can take up to 35 years to reach the perfect age to start the harvesting process.

This extended growth period results in limited availability because producers can be waiting for years before they can harvest the plants for distillation and start the next steps on how to make Mezcal. 

Wild Growth of Agave:

A view of a region with agave plants

Another aspect that makes Mezcal different from tequila is that Mezcal can be made from all types of Agaves. While this is a fascinating specificity of the Mezcal it also creates another challenge. 

Many varieties of Agave that are used on Mezcal only grow in the wild. These wild varieties often produce Mezcals with distinct and sought-after flavors but the process of identifying, harvesting, and transporting wild agaves from remote and often inaccessible regions also contributes to its premium price.

Also we need to take into consideration that these different types of agave also yield different amounts of liquid or alcohol, and while one piña of Agave Espadín can yield around eight liters of Mezcal, other types of agave, like the Tobolá, its piña may not even yield a liter of Mezcal.

The Labor-Intensive Production Process

From harvesting the mature agave by hand to the traditional methods of slow-cooking the piñas in earthen pits and the mashing of the piñas with a tahona, Mezcal production is labor-intensive and requires significant human effort, expertise and it’s a time consuming process..
Each step, from milling to fermentation and distillation, is carried out with care, often using methods passed down through generations. This hands-on approach ensures the highest quality but also limits production capacity and increases costs.
If you want to learn more about this topic, you can check our post about how Mezcal is made.

Transportation Challenges: Why is Mezcal So Expensive?

Man walking downhill with a burro carrying agave piñas

The process of exporting Mezcal involves navigating a complex landscape of regulations, taxes, and tariffs, all of which contribute to the final retail price. 

These factors, which may be common for other spirits, also add up to the fact that Mezcal tends to be crafted by Maestros Mezcaleros who usually live in remote and not easy to access villages. 

Sometimes these villages are so remote and have a hard landscape that there’s no chance to get there by any means of transportation but hiking. While it is also one of the reasons why us Mezcal aficionados love this spirit, it also contributes to the high pricing of Mezcal.

In conclusion, while Mezcal may come as a pricy spirit, remember that it’s uniqueness, the traditions and ancient techniques involved in the crafting process and the efforts, time and love put by mescaleros and their villages into the bottles, are also a reflection of its price.