Updated October 2016
Sadly, it has been a few years since I did a deep dive and thorough update to this list. Yes, I have added a brand here and there, but I have not scoured the web in a few years to see what is really out there. And man have times changed!
When I last took a hard look, there were about 70 mezcal brands to be found in the U.S. Now I count 120+! Wow. Further, a few years ago there were around 50 brands that were traveling in the upper end of the market, and that has now risen to almost 90 brands in what I consider to be in the premium sector.
I used to have them all, and I can no longer say that. In my recent research, I found many brands I had never even heard of at premium prices and occasionally at premium packaging. A lot of these are definitely under the radar, which means they are not active on social media or apparently in the active promotion of their brand. I know because I follow this stuff. Also, when new brands are coming to the market they often issue press releases, and many contact me and are generous enough to send me a bottle – I am grateful every time! But many of the new brands below have done nothing to announce their presence in the U.S. market, so that is why I say under the radar. And if that is what they want to do, no problem! But I am curious about a good number of them and will be making some new purchases for sure.
You will find a lot of these brands if you read MY BOOK (shameless self-promotion perhaps, but hey, the blog is free so this is my form of selling ad space!). I talk about all these brands in greater depth, plus I take a detailed look at how the many varieties of agave impact the flavor of a mezcal – much like grapes are to wine, agave is to mezcal. The book is Holy Smoke! It’s Mezcal! and it is on Amazon. Notice the cool cover shot to the right. Buy a copy – I promise you won’t be disappointed! Now back to our regularly scheduled program…
So here is my currently assembled list of the brands that can be found in the U.S. The list is organized from top to bottom by the brands I am most familiar with, which means among other things, I can find them and drink them regularly, I read about them, and/or they are actively promoting their brands through social media, etc. As the list progresses, many of these I have never tried and never seen other than on a website. So they are mainly pretty obscure but some of them look quite interesting with a price point to match.
Toward the bottom of the list, there is a bunch of crap (that usually stirs up some controversy) – a bunch of industrial mezcals and some random stuff, many of which I have tried, hence that is what I call this part of the list crap. If you are looking for something good, stay higher on the list and do some research. When you see a mezcal for under $30, it is rarely good (though there are exceptions). Comments like that usually draw out some criticism that I am being elitist or worse, but it is simply a reality. It is VERY EXPENSIVE to produce a good, artisanal mezcal. Just a fact.
But if you think something toward the back of the pack is good, first you should drink it, and then let me know. I am always happy to learn and reassess. With that, here is what I have….
The U.S. Mezcal List
- Ilegal Mezcal. Joven, Repo, and Anejo. Love their combination of irreverence (see their “Donald Eres Un Pendejo” ad campaign) and deep respect for mezcal’s traditions.
- Del Maguey. Many fantastic sipping-worthy varietals, which are expensive but generally worth it, plus a cocktail oriented version called Vida.
- El Jolgorio. Many amazing varietals and worth every penny. They also make the Nuestra Soledad and Agave de Cortes brands as well. Very prolific!
- Real Minero. Yummy line-up of expensive varietals from a 5th generation mezcal family. All clay pot!
- Rey Campero. New comer in 2016 with many varietals and all good stuff.
- Mezcal Vago. Many varietals and special bottlings of very good mezcal.
- Pierde Almas. Several varietals plus a pechuga, a conejo (figure that one out!), and a gin-inspired +9 botanicals.
- Mezcales de Leyenda. Several agave varietals from different regions. Various producers.
- Fidencio. Classico, Sin Humo (no smoke), Tobala, and Pechuga, plus other varietals.
- Wahaka. Many great varietals plus some off the beaten path (and funky) mezcals they release under their Vino de Mezcal series.
- Mezcalero. Small batch releases. “Release #15” recently launched. Different distillers and different varietals for each batch. Brought to market by Los Danzantes distillery.
- Nuestra Soledad. Lower priced offerings from El Jolgorio. All espadins from various hand-picked producers.
- Los Amantes. Joven and Repo. Same owners as Casa Mezcal in NYC.
- Marca Negra. Many excellent varietals. All jovens.
- Agave de Cortes. Joven, Repo, Anejo, and Extra Anejo. And a repo with a worm (why Asis? why?)
- Don Amado. Joven, Repo, and Anejo. Been around since 1994.
- Alipus. Same producer as Los Nahuales (Los Danzantes Distillery). Jovens from different producers in different regions.
- El Buho. Cocktail oriented joven espadin.
- Los Nahaules. Joven, Repo, and Anejo. Known as Los Danzantes in Mexico. Also release the Mezcalero brand.
- Montelobos. Launched in 2012 by the guys who brought you Milagro Tequila. No website that I can find.
- Tres Papalote. They have 40% and 46% wild cupreatas. Celebrity spokesman Cheech Marin.
- Sombra. Intense smoke. Joven only.
- Peleton de la Muerta. Cocktail oriented joven. Lower price option from Mezcales de Leyende. No website.
- El Tieneblo. Joven, Repo, and Anejo. Don’t see this brand very often these days.
- La Nina del Mezcal. Espadin plus other varietals.
- Mezcal Union. An ensemble is there only offering.
- Mezcal Yuu Baal. Joven, Repo, Anejo, plus several varietals.
- Siete Misterios. Many varietals. All jovens.
- Sacacuento. Joven and Anejo, plus a tobala.
- Scorpion. More tequila-like in production methods resulting in little smoke. Several varietals plus aged products out to 7 years. And a scorpion in every bottle. Yay.
- Dona Sarito. Joven only. No obvious website.
- Koch el Mezcal. A full line-up of about 10 varietals at premium price points.
- Espiritu Lauro. Joven, Repo, and Anejo.
- Santa Pedrera. Joven only.
- Alacran. Have a tequila and a non-smoky, very tequila-like mezcal.
- Joya Azul. Joven, Repo, and Gran Reserva.
- Mezcal Embajador. Joven, Repo, Anejo and Gran Reserva.
- Metl. Joven and Repo. Apparently the brand has is now defunct, though you may still find bottles online.
- Mezcal Delirio. Joven, Repo, and Anejo.
- El Silencio. Premium ensemble of espadin, tobasiche and mexicano, plus less expensive espadin joven.
- Mezcal Tosba. Great back story of Mexican heritage and nice people. Espadin, tobala and pechuga.
- Mezcal Sacrificio. Joven and uniquely aged repo.
- Mezcal Amaras. Espadin and cupreata.
- Vicio Mezcal. Joven espadin only.
- Bosscal Mezcal. One of the few mezcals in the U.S. made from Agave durangensis. I like that one, and now they also have a conejo pechuga and a damiana infusion.
- Mezcal Enmascarado. They have a 45% and a 54% (whoa!) ABV espadin. No obvious website.
- Mezcalosfera. U.S. named offshoot of renowned Oaxaca mezcal education experience, Mezcaloteca. Only one expression in the U.S. so far – and it’s $150, ouch.
- Clase Azul Mezcal. A branch off the Case Azul Tequila tree. Agave durangensis at $200 a bottle (and not worth it).
- Gem and Bolt. A damiana infused espadin. Great packaging and social media. Look forward to trying it.
- Bruxo Mezcal. Nice line-up of 5 mezcals, including an ensamble and a pechuga.
- Gracias a Dios. A few varietals, plus a repo and an agave gin.
- 3 Pueblos Mezcal. Joven, Repo and Anejo.
- Creyente. Made by Cuervo and tastes like an industrial mezcal.
- Viejo Indecente. Espadin, madrecuixe, and ensemble.
- Los Javis. Many varietals including a tepeztate and a tobala.
- Kimo Sabe Mezcal. Industrial mezcal, but they don’t want you to know that (shhhh…).
- Jaral de Berrio. Made in Guanajuato from Agave salmiana. I’ve tried it and eh.
- Xicaru. Espadin joven only. Have tried it and just OK. No website.
- Real Matlatl. Joven, Repo, and Anejo. No website.
- San Dimas Mezcal. Appears to be repo only. No website.
- Mezcal Marillero. Tobala and arroqueno. Clay pot mezcal from Sola de Vega.
- Mezcal Mayalen. Two cupreatas and a borrego (lamb pechuga).
- Siembra Metl Mezcal. A cupreata from Michoacan.
- Amor de Agave. Espadin joven only.
- Santo Diablo Mezcal. Espadin joven only.
- Cinco Diamantes. Repo, anejo, tepeztate and tobala.
- Mestizo Mezcal. Joven, Repo, and Anejo.
- El Rey Zapoteca. Joven, Repo, Anejo plus a gusano (you know how I feel).
- Buen Bicho. Espíritu Lauro’s lower priced cocktail mezcal.
- Chango Loco Mezcal. Funky monkey glass bottles. Espadin, madrecuixe and pechuga.
- Cat Mezcal. Appears to be a joven espadin.
- Briscas Mezcal. Joven, Repo and Anejo.
- Mezcal Don Mateo de la Sierra. A few varietals and a pechuga from Michoacan.
- Cruz de Fuego Mezcal. Ensamble of espadin and tobala. No website.
- Xicala Mezcal. Joven espadin.
- Dos Perros Mezcal. An expensive 5yr aged mezcal. I have never tried it. No website.
- Mezcal IBA. Two espadins: a 40% and a 55% ABV expressions.
- Mezcal Derrumbes. Three expressions from three different mescal making regions.
- OLL 1N Mezcal. Odd name. Seem to have 3 expressions.
- Premario Mezcal. A cocktail oriented espadin from Nina de Mezcal.
- Puntagave Mezcal. Funky bottles. They have similarly packaged tequilas as well.
- Sangre de Vida Mezcal. Cool day of the Dead skull bottle. Repo only.
- Mezcal Memorable. 5 varietals with colorful labels.
- Four Vientos Mezcal. Tobala, cuixe and tepeztate.
- Espina Dorado Mezcal. One epsadin and one with gusano (ugh!).
- Felicidad la Puritita Verda Mezcal. Entry leve, cocktail oriented mezcal form Pierde Almas.
- Bozal Mezcal. Several varietals.
- La Fogata. Found randomly one day in Chelsea Market. Expensive. Never seen it anywhere else. No website.
- Wild Shot. Toby Keith owned.
- Semillero. Joven, repo, anejo. No website.
- Beneva. They also make Monte Alban.
- Zignum. Industrial type production.
- Maria Mezcal. Imported by the Scorpion crew.
- Mijes. Also imported by the Scorpion crew..
- Benesin. Industrial mezcals.
- Mezcal Filino. Can only find a repo at Old Town Tequila.
- Oro de Oaxaca. Been around a long time.
- Monte Alban. No list would be complete without them (that was a joke). Industrial. No website.
- Mezcal Guerrero. Little info. Looks pretty bad.
- Casa Curiel Mezcal. So cheap (and likely so bad) it should not even be here!
- Antonio Agular. Repo. Named after a Mexican singer.
- Chacmol Mezcal. Yow. $16 online for a 750ml bottle. Dare you. No website.
- Lajita Mezcal. No website. With worm. Double dare you.
- Embajador de Oaxaca. Joven, repo, anejo. I’ve had it in Oaxaca and ugh.
- Escorpion Mezcal. Not to be confused with Scorpion. No website.
- Mala Noche Mezcal. No website.
- Marques Mezcal. Silver and repo. Same producer as Jaral.
- Mina del Eden Mezcal. No website.
- Real de Oaxaca. Silver and Repo. No website.
- Herencia del Mezcalero. Joven, Repo, and Anejo.
- El Zacatecano. Backed by former MLB player Edgar Martinez. Very tequila like.
- Mina Real. Joven and Repo. Don Amado’s entry level brand.
- Donaji Mezcal. Joven and anejo. No website.
- Mezcal del Maestro. Citrus infusion, Repo and Anejo. No website.
- Banhez. One ensemble. No website.
- Mezcal Legendario Domingo. Espadin. Looks interesting…..
- Mezcal Mala Idea. Just arriving in the U.S. in October 2016. Several varietals, well packaged.
- Mezcal del Amigo. Spotted in a 1 liter bottle at Astor in NYC.
- Salvacion Mezcal. Reader’s tip that this was spotted at Total Wines (thanks Rimas!). Several pricey varietals plus something call “original” – perhaps espadin but odd choice of words….
- Mezcal Km 70. Joven an Repo.
- Quiquiriqui Mezcal. Joven found mainly on the West Coast.
- Mezcal Meteoro. Not sure how I missed this. See it regularly in NYC. Joven espadin.
- Craneo Mezcal. Just arriving in the US in October 2016. From the makers of Tequila 123. No opinion yet.
Where to Find Them (online)
- Hi-Time Wines
- Zee Tequila (Old Town Tequila)
- K&L Wine Merchants
- Astor Wines and Spirits
- Mission Liquor
So that is my current list. I count 120+ mezcal brands that are in the U.S. Many of these are marginal at best (cheap, ineffective or non-existent marketing, and really only found online), but they are here, and you can buy them.
I have not seen a list like this anywhere, so if you know of one, or have additions, please send them in! In the meantime, drink mezcal because you have many to choose from!
I’m a relative newcomer to mezcal, but have to say that after trying over a dozen different mezcals in the $40-90 per bottle range, I appreciate Escorpion Mezcal’s Barril, Espadin, and Pechuga mezcals over several others. They sell for ~$24 per 375 ml (half-size) bottle. I was surprised to see them at the bottom of the list, but to each their own!
I also recently tried La Venenosa’s Green Label at an east coast (US) mezcal bar and found it very complex, intriguing, and highly enjoyable. Perhaps a worthy addition to your list…
Thanks for a great book and website!
Chris, thanks for writing in. I think Doug French of Scorpion and Escorpion makes some nice spirits. What moves them down the MEZCAL list for me is that they cook the pinas in aboveground, brick ovens. That is fine and tequila has been using this technique since the late 1800s. But his mezcals taste more like tequilas for me, but agree they would qualify as artisanal tequilas which I respect for sure. So if you like them, drink them because they are hand-crafted spirits!!
As for Venenosa, they are raciallas so I do not have them on this list (or sotols or bacanora). Their whole line is very complex – I would agree with you. Glad you enjoy the book and the website – give me an Amazon review if you have a moment and the inclination!!
Thanks for the response and clarification. I noticed after I posted that you mention Venenosa in your book, and now appreciate the distinction.
I look forward to sampling some of the mezcals toward the top of your list. Cheers!
Cheers as well! Drink Mezcal!!
Hey Guys , Mezcal BENESIN Y SAN JUAN DEL RIO mezcal Fueron los primeros mezcales con certificacion organica en USA. Antes que cualquier otro TEQUILA organico Y son mezcales ARTESANALES ,Asi que informese por favor
That’s great but Benesin is industrial mezcal and tastes every bit of it. Inform yourself!
Hi,I would like to send you a bottle for a tasting maybe a meet and greet would be nice.
Mezcal de los Santos
instagram : mezcaldls
That is very kind. Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can figure it out.
What are your thoughts on Reyes y Cobardes?
I have never heard of that brand. I assume it is not in the US, right?
El Tinieblo is all of the sudden all over LA, NY and MIA btw – Been drinking it a lot at bars and restaurants. For a while, some 18 months ago I couldn’t find it anywhere but then one day about 6 months ago…..poof! There it was …..EVERYWHERE. Soooo good!
Yeah, it kind of disappeared. But I have not seen it on NYC at all for years it seems. I don;t really miss it as it is just OK for me. Thanks for writing in!
I have a bottle of La Fogata, sold at the Montgomery County, MD county ABC store. Very nice, smooth. Sticker claims a 92 score from some website or reviewer. Like it a lot.
Oh, and one other thing, the La Fogata bottle seems to be hand blown, with a green spiral around the neck. Nice.
I always say drink what you like, so if it works for you, right on! But for me, when I stack up that anejo with other aged mezcals, I do not like it nearly as much as several others. But that’s what makes a market! Thanks for contributing.
I’ve noticed you didn’t include realdejapla’s aztecali in the list of Mezcals. Is it because it’s really just a tequila using blue agave?
I am OK with them making a mezcal from blue agave. I simply did not come across this in my research for thanks for the tip. Have you tried it?
[…] States, we checked the following mezcals against Mezcal PhD’s comprehensive list of 120+ Mezcal Brands Found in the U.S., which was updated in October 2016 [as of this writing]. Let’s look at some of these […]