29 Responses

  1. Fernando Cuadra at |

    Item #24 for sample brand you could state “La Venenosa” https://cuvees.com/products/la-venenosa-raicilla-sierra-de-jalisco-nv-mexico-700ml

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  2. […] plastic or stainless steel, and for how long? This impacts the flavor. Is it made from a tobala, Karwinsky, madrecuixe agave. Are fruits or poleo (wild mint) added for flavor? And what about that […]

  3. Frank Torres at |

    Budding Mezcal aficionado here, I love this stuff. On your list I notice the Jabali is under species Agave kerchovei. I have a bottle of Rey Campero Jabali where the label indicates the species is Agave Convallis, just thought I should pass that along.

    Enjoyed your book, please keep fighting the good fight for Mezcal keeping the industry as artesanal/traditional as possible. Not all of us have the influence or resources to do what you do, but we are behind you 100%

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    1. EHD at |

      According to the Missouri Botanical Garden and The Plant List, A. convallis is a synonym of A. kerchovei.
      http://www.tropicos.org/Name/1201949?tab=synonyms
      http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-293923

      Reply
  4. Francisco Terrazas at |

    Greetings John,

    I was hoping you could direct me towards that academic paper cited in your chart of agave names. Thanks in advance!

    Francisco Terrazas
    Mezcal Vago

    Reply
  5. marc at |

    I just bought a mezcal labeled as cuela by the brand 9 espiritus, I was told it is quite rare (theres almost no info online about this variety). I asked about the species and was told it is quite simiar to potatorum or is in that family. It is an olla de barro and is of very good quality. No comercam sticker though. Made in santa catarina albarradas.

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  6. Oaxaca | mareewise at |

    […] – 47 or 200, I’m not sure the exact answer but here is an article to clear that up http://mezcalphd.com/2013/03/how-many-varieties-of-agave-can-be-used-to-make-mezcal-take-2/ is considered mezcal. There really are so many factors affecting the process similar to wine, where […]

  7. Adam J at |

    This list is fantastic though the one composed in 2012 made searching for the common names easier :). As you described, there really aren’t resources out there for a comprehensive list and the excellent comment by Jonathan above certainly doesn’t help the diligent cataloger.

    Do you know, if it is on this list, what the Penca Verde might otherwise be known as? At first glance I’d associate it with Pelón Verde, but this menu at In Situ clearly distinguishes between the two. http://insitumezcaleria.wix.com/inicio#!mezcales_/cl69

    La Mezcaloteca tends to be very good at putting the species (e.g. A. karwinskii) on their bottles but in this picture example they do not: http://www.flickr.com/photos/institutoculturaloaxaca/5627333825/

    Thanks for all of your efforts and as always, drink mezcal.

    Reply
  8. stavros at |

    hello there ! i would like to ask you if know if agave amricana variegata is appropriate for mezcal .. thank you !!!

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  9. […] were 42 species in Mexico from which mezcal is made.  This is directionally where I came out on my last piece on this topic.  (I got to 47 but I know there is some overlap).  So while the exact number is hard to pin down, […]

  10. Dave at |

    God bless you for your efforts! Hard to find this information otherwise. A note on the earlier version of this post which may have been resolved since you don’t include it in this one. Your reading of the NOM regulating mezcal excluded the blue agave since its the basis for another Denomination of Origin (Tequila). But looking at the NOM it specifies:
    · Otras especies de agave, siempre y cuando no sean utilizadas como materia prima para otras bebidas con denominaciones de origen dentro del mismo Estado.

    (Other species of agave, always and when not used as the principal ingredient for other drinks with denominations of origin *within the same state*.)

    So from this I would interpret that you could use blue agave under this regulation to make an officially recognized commercial mezcal, just not in one of the states recognized as a producer of tequila (Jalisco, Michoacan, etc)

    On the other hand, I’m guessing that you haven’t found anyone using blue agave to make any of the mezcals you have come across since its not included on your list . . .

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  11. arik at |

    Dear MezcalPhD,

    Thank you for putting together this extraordinary list. I know how difficult it is to get clear information on the different varieties of agave used for mezcal. I have some feedback, since you offered.
    Cuixe, I was told it is a Karwinskii, but I cant confirm.
    I believe the name for Pulque is Pulquero and I have heard that it is a Salmiana var.
    I’m pretty sure that Do ba daan is the Zapotec name for Coyote.
    Raicilla is mezcal from Jalisco, I have had inaequidens and never heard it referred to as Raicilla.
    I’ve had mezcal from Espadillo and Espadillo Blanco, both were amazing. I’m not sure if its the same or different.

    I’m a partner in Fidencio Mezcal, I was glad to see we made your list. I live in NYC too and would love to share some mezcal with you.

    Salud, Arik

    Reply
  12. susan coss at |

    Nice piece! It is a highly complex and endless field of discussion, especially since there is no definitive list of the different magueys, let alone agreed upon spellings (madrecuixe, madrecuish, madrecuishe?) You should check out the new book published by Ulises Torrentera, Mezcalaria. It’s a great guide to mezcal and is in both English and Spanish.

    Reply
  13. Jonathan Barbieri at |

    Excellent article! Thank you Doc! The mark of a true investigative spirit is to provoke more questions than the answers you set out to provide.

    I have a theory regarding the relationship between the many Zapotec and Spanish names commonly associated with individual species and the unique flavor profiles that each produces.

    Take, for example the Karwinski family, in which you will find Tobaziche, Madrecuixe, Largo and Tripón, among others. This species, like many Agaves, is prone to a phenomenon called geomorphism, meaning that it changes form in accordance with the geographical setting in which it happens to grow, i.e. on the north, or south (sunny) side of a hill, on steeper or gentler slopes, in ravines, etcetera. Different shapes definitely engender different names. However, it is important to recognize that the Zapotec language – the predominant tongue of Oaxaca’s Mezcal producing region – is split into many dialects. From village to village the common names for animals, plants and other objects change. Thus, in the village of Matatlàn an Agave Karwinski might be called Madrecuixe, while in Chichicapam it might bear the name Tobaziche and in Santa Catarina Minas they may call it Tripón. Though it is still genetically – or at least taxonomically – the same plant, the resulting Mezcals are unique. Each of these villages are at different altitudes, have slightly different climates, different soil conditions, different technologies (copper or clay pot stills) different methods and traditions handed down through the generations, as well as their own unique set of wild yeasts. And, they have different names for the same plant.

    But these names are not simply redundant. Beneath each is a collection of nuances that contribute to the flavor, texture, viscosity, acidity, fruitiness, smokiness, and general terroir of the Mezcal. These names – these geo-lingûistic, or regional differentiations – corresponding to different environmental conditions and stylistic traditions – may not distinguish unique species, or sub-species of Agave, but they DO provide a detailed, cultural-centric lexicon that helps us to distinguish between the finished Mezcals.

    There are many parallels in the case of wine: Fume Blanc /Soveignon Blanc; Zinfandel / Primitivo; Petit Serah / Shiraz. Each pair is essentially comprised of the same grape, but the wines they represent are often very different.

    For the record, I’d like to note that, aside from Do-ba-daán (Agave Rhodacanta) Pierde Almas makes Mezcal from Tobaziche (Agave Karwinski), Espadìn (Agave Angostafolia) Tequilana Weber, as well as Mezcal de Pechuga and our own invention, Mezcal de Conejo (distilled with wild, cotton tail rabbit).

    Again, thank you for your article and for ever broadening and deepening the public forum of Mezcal
    ¡ Otra Vez Esta Maldita Felicidad !

    Reply
  14. Flycakes at |

    This is so interesting. Really. I’m not being sarcastic. The fact that the information is so hard to come by just adds to the seductive nature of this spirit. It is as if it’s playing hard to get. Continue your archeological exploration of this mysterious spirit, you have made incredible strides.

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