In this guide, we are going to take you through all of the wonderful authentic products that the mezcal world has to make your tasting experience magical.
This guide aims to help you get to know all of the great ways for you to be able to enjoy your mezcal. As well as provide product recommendations to enhance your tasting experience. So let's get started.
To begin with, there are two categories of mezcal drinkware. The traditional options and the more modern options. The crazy thing about mezcal drinkware is that the flavor, texture, and smell of the mezcal can change depending on what you drink from. How cool?!
Traditional Mezcal Drinkware
The three main types of mezcal drinkware are the; Clay Mezcalero, Jicara, and the Veladora.
The San Marcos Tlapazola pottery tradition and pottery traditions in the same region have been around for hundreds to thousands of years.
The clay is a premium clay gathered by hand high up in the Oaxacan mountains. What makes these products different is that they are also molded completely by hand.
The important thing to note is that this product needs to be soaked before every use as the material is very porous and could stick to your lips. When drinking from clay, it tends to "soften" the mezcal taste making it a delightful experience.
Made and hand-carved from gourd, this is a top choice of drinkware amongst mezcaleros. The designs on them are very detailed and usually depict nature.
One unique thing about them as that the gourd "drinks with you." So you better be timely about your tasting otherwise you might have some stolen mezcal.
When drinking from a jicara, you may notice more earthy and woody flavors in your mezcal as well.
The veladora is an economic option here in Mexico. These glasses are commonly used for religious candles, are widely available, and make a great drinkware option.
The common saying is "drink until you see the cross" due to the cross on the bottom of the glass. To note, drinking from a glass gives you the most "pure" flavor.
Modern Mezcal Drinkware
The next three drinking vessels are more of a modern approach and very cool in their own right. They are the Glass Shot, Copita, and the Stone Tequilero.
Glass Shot Glasses
These come in many different shapes and sizes. The ones we sell are hand-blown from recycled glass, but you can find a shot glass in pretty much any home.
We love them because of they provide a more "pure" experience, and they also make your bar look awesome.
Hand Blown Mezcal Shot Glasses (6 pack) $60
The copita is a relatively new thing. Made famous in the United States by Ron Cooper, founder of Del Maguey Mezcal. They provide an awesome "nose" with its wide mouth. You really get to smell and taste the mezcal better.
Is rising in popularity amongst the mezcal crowd. The stone is naturally a little cold which helps bring the temperature of the mezcal down ever-so-slightly.
They even come with a stem so you are not transferring any of your body heat to the glass. Expect to see these becoming more popular in the next coming years.
Now that we covered drinkware, it is time to move on to accompaniments.
There are many different ways to prepare your tasting setup, but we are just going to go over the basics here for simplicity.
Accompaniments are meant to be a palate cleanser. Keep in mind that you should not be using it to "chase" your mezcal. We are not trying to cover up our tasting experience, but rather trying to enhance it.
For your tasting setup, you'll need a few things.
Mezcal Serving Tray
You'll need some kind of tray to put your accompaniments on. We recommend ones made in Oaxacan with tradition to enhance those earthy mezcal flavors.
Mezcal Serving Tray Collection (from $70)
This makes a great and refreshing palate cleanser. Any will do, but we prefer Topo Chico.
Sliced Fruit / Vegetables
Some common favorites are; tomatoes, grapefruit, oranges, melon, celery
Also known as Sal de Gusano, is a great topping for your fruit. Agave worms are baked, crush, and mixed with salt to give you a really, earthy umami flavor.
Also known as Chapulines, makes a great snack and accompaniment for your tasting experience.
You can check out our selection of chapulines here.
Congratulations! If you got this far you are now ready to start your tasting experience.
How Do You Drink Mezcal?
Now that you have your mezcal tasting set-up ready, it is now finally time to enjoy it. We offer a Virtual Mezcal Tasting Course that provides a detailed step-by-step process. Below, you can also find some general tips, tricks, and guidelines.
- Smell it with intent - Smell it in the glass. Rub some on your hands and smell it. Set aside time to take in the aromas and figure out what it is you are smelling.
- Take tiny little sips - No need to make this complicated. Sip the smallest sips you've ever had.
- Hold it in your mouth - Try holding it on the top of your tongue for five seconds. Even swirl it around your mouth.
- Have some accompaniments between sips.
- When switching to a different mezcal cleanse your palate with mineral water.
For More Advanced Tasting
Keeping records of your experiences and practicing tasting different mezcals will help you identify agave species, cooking methods, and distillation methods.
The more mindful, organized, and ritualized you are with your tasting the better you get. Be sure to read the labels on the bottle and try to notice patterns between flavor profiles. Getting really good will come with time and practice!
I really hope that you enjoyed reading this article on mezcal tasting. If you have some of your own tasting recommendations, please comment below.
Greg Rutkowski, President
Greg is a lover of agave spirits, handicrafts, and barware. In 2020 he married all of his loves and created a business bringing amazing pieces from all over Mexico to the United States. Learn more here.