Mezcal Distillery Tour in Oaxaca, Mexico
Mexico is known and appreciated worldwide for their global contribution of tequila but you might also have heard of its slightly less popular cousin, Mezcal. Also made from the agave plant, mezcal resembles tequila in some forms but varies in others.To any gringo, mezcal and tequila might be easily confused or even interchangeable but to Mexicans, they are as different as whiskey and vodka. Some of these differences include the widely-trusted belief by many Mexicans that it will not give you a hangover. While this is… debatable, to say the least, you might as well experiment with it yourself.
There’s no better place to learn and get a hands-on experience with mezcal than in Mexico’s mezcal capital of Oaxaca. While there are a number of distilleries offering tours in the region, one of the best you can do is with El Rey de Matatlan just outside of Oaxaca city. The family-run operation has been providing Mexico with good times since 1950 but the art of mezcal-making has been in the family for generations. According to them, their ancestral and artisanal mezcal has been around for at least 200 years.
The tours, in English or in Spanish, walk you through the meticulous process of how mezcal is made, starting with their agave plantation, the plant which mezcal is derived from. From there, you are able to see mezcal in every stage, from the chopped up agave root to the frayed fibers to mezcal joven and every step up until it hits the shelves. The creation, process, and presentation of mezcal makes it much different than other liquors so even if you have been through other distillery tours or have no interest whatsoever in how liquor is made, the tour is still extremely fascinating.
The best part? The end of the tour follows with all you can drink mezcal. It starts off as a casual mezcal tasting where the guide gives you a shot of mezcal in its various stages, ages, and flavors. You’ll go through about five or six shots before the free-for-all begins and you can sample anything you want from the bottles lining the walls.
Oh yeah, this isn’t some classy winery or brewery tour that will stop you or start charging you after a certain point. Welcome to Mexico. Drink all the mezcal you want, although I highly recommend saving a lot of room for the cremas, sweet mezcals ranging from any flavor from mango to pistachio-hazelnut. They have dozens of these flavors so you will just have to try them all in order to find the one you want to walk away with. Cappuccino was the winner for me, although the other flavors did put up quite a good fight.
Oaxaca is a beautiful and exciting region of Mexico that is often overlooked for the beachier, more tropical destinations of Mexico. If you happen to make it to this gem tucked between the mountains, a mezcal distillery tour is a fun way to delve into the local culture.
Post By: Eli Solidum
Check out more of Eli's adventures in Mexico on his blog: The Partying Traveler