Mezcal is a Mexican spirit made from the agave plant. And even though tequila and mezcal are somewhat related, there are a number of differences. Tequila is made specifically from blue agave and can only be produced in certain areas of Mexico. Meanwhile, mezcal can be produced from any type of agave plant. Then there's the variation in the spirit-making processes. For tequila, the piñas (the heart of the agave plant) are baked in steam-heated, above-ground ovens. In the case of mezcal, they go into underground ovens over wood charcoal. This essential difference makes mezcal taste much smokier than tequila. If you want to learn more and elevate your cocktail game with mezcal, turn to Food & Wine's guide.

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