Agave-based distillates made throughout Mexico are known generically as Mezcal. Mezcal has often been seen as the poor sibling to Tequila, but its quality and reputation are rapidly improving.
The process of crafting Mezcal begins by harvesting the plants, which can weigh 40 kg each, extracting the piña or heart by cutting off the plant’s leaves and roots. The piñas are then cooked for about three days, often in pit ovens, which are earthen mounds over pits of hot rocks. This underground roasting gives mezcal its intense and distinctive smoky flavour. They are then crushed and mashed (traditionally by a stone wheel turned by a horse) and then left to ferment in large vats or barrels with water added.