8 Best Mezcal Brands
Table of Contents
Finding The Best Mezcal Brands
Is there anything that says “spring break” more than tequila, mid-2000s MTV, and Cancun? Okay, maybe a state-sanctioned holiday that literally calls itself “spring break” beats out that trifecta. The point is that there are few drinks that capture the lawless feeling of a week spent partying on the beach like mezcal.
Before we dive into the best mezcal brands let’s talk about mezcal itself. You probably already know that the Mexican liquor is from maguey. You’re probably aware that it’s usually sweet and smokey to the taste. You might even know that maguey is a type of agave plant, which is why mezcal is oftentimes sweet.
And if you know what mezcal is then you definitely know this fact: tequila is a type of mezcal made specifically from the blue agave plant.
There’s more to mezcal than that. Food and drinks have their own stories and folktales. Mezcal is no different. Most of the world’s mezcal comes from the Oaxaca state in Mexico. It’s the product of fermented maguey.
Though mezcal-like drinks existed in Mexico before the Spanish Conquistadors ponied up into the country, looked around, and said, “this is our land now” without any form of polite diplomacy, the Spaniards were integral to mezcal’s current composition. They distilled many mezcal precursors like pulque and eventually created what we now call mezcal.
So there’s your history lesson, cowboy. Now hop off your high horse and take a seat in the Honest Brand Reviews saloon. Tonight’s entertainment will be a thrilling exploration of the 8 best mezcal brands. You better hurry up and order your drink cause the show is about to start.
8 Best Mezcal Brands
1. Del Maguey
This brand takes their name from the key ingredient in mezcal, the maguey plant. Founder Ron Cooper first tasted mezcal during a road trip with some friends in the 1970s. The drink was so powerful that he made it his life’s goal to meet the people who made it.
Flash forward to 1985. Cooper travels to Oaxaca and meets local mezcal producers. Ten years later he founded the company Del Maguey with local villagers in Oaxaca.
The brand works with villagers in Oaxaca and gives them the freedom to produce mezcal using practices that have been passed down through generations. That means that each product has its own distinct taste and aroma.
Their products all come from different villages. Therefore, each product varies on a fundamental level. Del Maguey invites their customers to enrich themselves in centuries of Mexican traditions with their products. Some of their best-sellers are as follows:
- Del Maguey Vida Mezcal: $90
- Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal: $228
- Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal: $70
- Each mezcal is produced in a different village in Oaxaca
- Provide a huge list of cocktail recipes on their website
- Work alongside NGOs to ensure sustainable practices
- Focused on telling the story of mezcal as a whole and the tales of the villages responsible for the drinks
Montelobos claim to be the #1 trending mezcal company on the planet, but does that mean they’re one of the best mezcal brands? Well, duh, they’re on this list. Let’s get into why they’re here.
The company keeps the liquor’s long crafting tradition alive through their practices. Founder Ivan Saldana maintains this in an effort to make the best use of the agave plant’s potential. Maguey can be sweet, smokey, or earthy. What distinguishes Montelobos from other mezcal brands is that they keep that complex profile in mind with every drink they make.
You’ll love Montelobos if you like learning about the processes behind their mezcals. They publish the production notes of their drinks so that you can see what differentiates their products from each other on an insider level.
But let’s talk about their offerings. Their mezcals are all USDA-organic certified and kosher. You can liven up your Hannukah with a bottle of Montelobos Mezcal for $50. Their other items highlight mezcal’s flavor potentials in varying degrees. Some are smokier, some are sweeter, but they’re all as complex as a game of 4-D chess.
- Grows their own tobalá and cupreata agave varieties to limit deforestation
- Publishes all their production practices online
- USDA-certified organic
- Composts all their liquid waste
3. El Silencio
Are you in the mood for a little danger? How about a midnight fling with a bottle of El Silencio’s mezcal. The Los Angeles-based company is the vision of Pedro Hernández. Hernández comes from a long family line of master mezcaleros, nine generations to be exact.
That means that their practices have survived longer than some genes have deemed desirable by natural selection. Talk about longevity! Speaking about the long-term, El Silencio only uses Espadin agaves that have been aging for over a decade.
To ensure that their mezcals are given their required attention, El Silencio prepares them in small batches. They focus on the details so that you can enjoy the complex notes. Additionally, they do not taint their products with additives or preservatives.
You can nab a bottle of their El Silencio Espadin Mezcal for $32. Sip on the family lineage and intentionality from one of the best mezcal brands around.
- Their mezcal-crafting practices have remained in the family for nine generations
- Available through most liquor stores in the United States
- More affordable versus other Mezcal brands
- Products are ideal for mixing instead of straight drinking
Alipus positively exudes a “salt of the earth” vibe. Founded in 1999, this brand is all about producing the best Mezcal in an ethical and sustainable manner.
Working with local workers and producers, this brand keeps things simple and tasty with all of their work done in the Oaxaca region. As a self-reported “social impact project,” Alipus is big on giving back and supporting the communities that helped them get to where they are today.
And where they are today is a brand that produces one heck of a product.
- Works with local producers
- Creates their products with 100% Mescadin agave
- Uses traditional and sustainable practices
5. El Jolgorio
Wine moms love to brag about their weekend plans of kicking back with a chardonnay and reading the latest romance novel they bought in the airport lobby. But El Jolgorio has a better way to combine reading and drinking.
They adorn each of their bottles with the drink’s lore. On each El Jolgorio mezcal you’ll find,
- Which agave species they used
- How old the agave was when it was harvested
- Which village produced the drink
- Which Master Distiller led the operation
They provide this information to connect the consumer with the people responsible for some of the best mezcal available. El Jolgorio started making mezclas in 2010 as a single family operation in Oaxaca. The Cortes family assembled a production team that includes some of the best distillers in the state.
Now, over 16 families in 10 regions across Oaxaca apply their craft to El Jolgorio. It’s a family celebration in the form of a company. They are a collective as opposed to a large corporate entity – a group of real people combining their efforts to create one of the best mezcal brands.
A bottle of their El Jolgorio Mezcal Espadin costs $167 and could be the perfect way for you to commemorate any occasion. Afterall, jolgorio are small festivals. Why not have your own festival? You deserve it.
- Larger product catalog than other mezcal companies
- A family-owned business that supports other families
- Each bottle tells you what makes that particular mezcal unique
Bozal makes mezcals for the wild boys. We’re not talking about party animals, we mean those who hanker to investigate their surrounding wilderness. Bozal harvests the Guerrero and Durango strains of the agave plant, both of which grow wildly in Oaxaca.
These strains produce distinct flavors unlike anything else on the plane. Their inclusion into Bozal’s array of liquors is what makes this company one of the best mezcal brands.
They offer plenty of information for botanists and beverage scientists. Bozal publishes information about each of the plants they use and how their genetic make-up, growth patterns, and climate can affect the final taste of their mezcals.
Bozal also makes their drinks by hand. This process, along with their chosen ingredients, means that their products are punchier than other mezcals. They might have you starting barroom brawls in your local canteen with their intense flavors.
Price-wise you’re looking at about $101 for a bottle of Mezcal Bozal Ensamble Barril Mexicano Espadin.
- Uses unique strains of agave
- Products have received high customer scores on mezcalreviews.com
- They sell more mezcal varieties than some other companies
7. Vamonos Riendo
This mezcal company creates such divine drinks that Forbes, Today, and Spy all sing its praises. Vamonos Riendo makes their mezcals high up in the mountains. High altitude combined with their use of ancient brewing practices and handcrafted care distinguishes them as a rarity among mezcal brands.
Their drinks have notes of fruitiness, tartness, sweetness, and smokiness wrapped around a delightful blend of melon, cocoa, mint, and anise. That sounds like a veritable festival for the tastebuds.
What really certifies their positions among our list of the best mezcal brands is their detailed alchemic process. It begins in the high mountains of Soledad Salinas, where the high altitude results in agave plants with stronger flavors.
From there, Vamonos Riendo slow roasts the maguey harvests, then double distills them in Tlalixtac de Cabrera. Their master mezcal maestro then distills the product a third time, adding fruit to the mix. The best part about this practice is that it’s entirely vegan.
That’s not the only prosocial aspect of Vamonos Riendo. The brand partnered with the non-profit group SACRED to give back to Mexican communities that source the agave plant used in mezcals.
A standard-sized bottle of Vamonos Riendo Mezcal costs $62.
- They create Espadin and Tobala blended mezcals
- Contribute to their sourcing communities
- Only work with local farmers and distillers
8. Madre Mezcal
The final entry in our list of the best mezcal brands promises to wrap things up with a bang.
Their beginnings are humble. Madre Mezcal‘s founders Tony, Stefan, and Jose started distributing mezcal in plastic bottles that eventually wound up in Brooklyn bars. There, the drinks gained so much traction that they leveled up from non-descript plastic water bottles to creative glass bottles.
Madre Mezcal has expanded their operations from Mexico to the whole of the Americas and to parts of Europe.
Here are some of the most popular products available on the company’s website:
- Madre Mezcal Ensamble Mezcal: $50
- Madre Mezcal Espadin Mezcal: $40
- Madre Mezcal x Yardy World Earth Salts: $15
You read that last entry correctly. Madre Mezcal sells more than just mezcals. They also produce salts, apparel, home cookware, and accessories.
You’ll find that their Madre Mezcal Ensamble Mezcal unlocks many of the agave plant’s hidden flavors that are often sealed away by smokiness. This comes from the brand’s decision to use a blend of different agave strains in their mezcals.
However, if you want a purer taste of espadin then we recommend picking up the Madre Mezcal Espadin Mezcal. It provides a clearer, more distilled experience.
- Their mezcal blends highlight flavors that are often masked in other mezcals
- Easier to purchase items directly from this brand than other mezcal companies
- Free shipping from their online store on orders over $100
What is Considered the Best Mezcal?
This is something you’ll ultimately have to decide for yourself. Some people prefer smokier mezcals, some people prefer sweeter variations, some like to mix their mezcals with other drinks and some prefer to drink it straight out of the bottle.
However, some safe bets are the Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal, the Bozal Mezcal Ensamble, and the El Silencio Espadin Mezcal. Each of these has received praise on the internet for the ability to create diverse cocktails.
How is The Best Mezcal Made?
Each of the brands featured in this list uses different strategies to make their mezcal, and they’re proud to explain to their customers both their philosophies and their processes.
The commonalities between the best mezcal brands are their decisions to use the purest ingredients they can and to do as much of the work by hand as possible. They also rely on ancient traditions that live on with the Oaxaca people.
Are There Different Varieties of Mezcal?
It’s easier to imagine mezcal as a category of drink rather than a specific drink in and of itself.
Mezcal varieties can differ based on how they’re made, their taste, how long they’ve aged, and even what type of plant they use. The three main types of mezcal are as follows:
- Mezcal artensanal
- Mezcal ancestra
You could peer deeper into the differences between the mezcals in each of those subcategories, but those are the three distinct branches recognized by the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal.
How Do I Pick a Good Mezcal?
So now that you know which companies are the best mezcal brands, it’s time to decide which mezcal you’ll actually purchase. There are plenty of options to choose from, so follow this hand flowchart to ease your option anxiety.
If you purchase from any of the companies on this best mezcal brands list then you’re in good hands. Most of them work with local Mexican mezcal maestros to create their products and some of them work in tandem with not-for-profits.
The best mezcal is made from the best ingredients. Thankfully, there are plenty of varieties of agave plant. That means you don’t need to stick to one flavor or strain. There’s room for experimentation.
You’re probably not going to be drinking mezcal like it’s water unless you want to wake up in an ice bath with a stomach pump. Mezcal has a very high alcohol content, often teetering close to 50%.
With that being said, you also don’t want to short-change yourself by paying too much for a paltry amount of alcohol per bottle. Make sure you check how much each bottle contains so that you know you’re getting your money’s worth.
Many of the best mezcal brands honor their local workers by publishing their stories on their labels. This is for more than the benefit of the consumer; it shares the traditions, histories, and processes of the Oaxaca people.
Learning is good. Why keep your learning relegated to the classroom when you could learn and drink at the same time by buying a mezcal with an informative label.
As we mentioned in a previous section of this article, mezcal isn’t a single drink. All mezcals have similar traits but there isn’t one definitive mezcal. There are so many different options to choose from that you could probably spend the rest of your life only drinking mezcals and nothing else.
Take the opportunity to explore mezcals with different tastes, aromas, textures, and origins.
Because mezcal has such a deep history, and because that lineage is intertwined with Oaxaca, it’s important to ensure that you’re giving your money to the brand with the best intentions. Many of the companies we’ve covered work closely with local farmers in Oaxaca and they do give back to them.
The most sought-after mezcal usually comes from plants that have aged for at least a decade. Lesser mezcal brands will rush this process, but there’s pride in patience. You should look to purchase mezcal that has undergone significant aging to boost its flavor profile.
Skimping out on mezcal could leave you with nothing more than lime water and a few cilantro leaves. Mezcal is rarely cheap, but you can rest assured that your money is going towards preserving traditions that are older than America itself.
Is Mezcal Better Than Tequila?
Better is a totally subjective measure that even our Honest Brand Review scientists can’t say with certainty. Is Stone Cold Steve Austin better than The Rock? Was 2Pac better than Biggie Smalls? See how difficult it can be to determine whether something is better.
It all comes down to personal preference. However, many people feel that mezcal is generally stronger than tequila, but that could be a matter of taste. So, mezcal could be better if you prefer your alcohol to have a stronger taste.
Which Mezcal is The Smokiest?
What draws many people towards mezcal are its smokier notes. The most fervent of mezcal fanatics – we’ll call them mezcalholics – love the smoky flavors. It’s an aroma that’s rare amongst most drinks. It makes mezcal a unique addition to cocktails, almost like an unspoken x-factor.
In terms of the smokiest mezcals, there are three that stick out from the pack.
Del Maguey Mezcal Vida is particularly smoky to the point that it can turn some people off from mezcals entirely. Weaklings beware, this item is for the pyromaniacs.
Montelobos Tobalá is another smoky option that may be better for people looking for a more agreeable option. It’s still as smoky as a hickory ham but it has a complex blend of other flavors too.
Lastly, there’s the El Silencio Espadin Mezcal, which is made in small batches to ensure that every flavor bursts with intentionality.
Is All Mezcal Smokey?
Although smokey is a flavor profile usually associated with mezcal, it’s often a crutch used by lesser companies.
Some of the best mezcals, like the Madre Mezcal Ensamble Mezcal, actually strive away from smokiness to bring out all the other flavors of the agave plant. Others like Vamonos Riendo Mezcal forgo smokiness entirely for a more complex flavor profile.
What’s a Good Mezcal to Try for Beginners?
Mezcal is a lot like death metal in that many people have heard about it but assume it’s all violence, shouting, and unfriendly towards outsiders. We’re here to remind you that that’s not the case!
Just like there are bands like Opeth who serve as great introductions to death metal, there are tons of mezcals that are easier on the senses. Consider them as stepping stones on your path towards being a mezcal maniac.
The Del Maguey Mezcal Vida is a beginner-friendly mezcal. Actually, it was designed with newbies in mind. It’s not as strong as other mezcals and promotes fruity and sweet notes instead of aggressive smokiness.
Another good option is the Montelobos Mezcal Joven. It’s a little smokey but also a little fruity. That makes it a great option to familiarize yourself with mezcal’s inherent flavor profiles so that you can know what to expect if you move on to heavier mezcals.
What’s the Best Way to Enjoy Mezcal?
There are two main ways to enjoy mezcal, by itself, or in a cocktail.
The best mezcal brands promote recipes to make the most of their products, so if you’re interested in the latter option then you should look through those frameworks.
In the event that you want the full force of the mezcal then read our next tidbit about how to properly sip mezcal.
How Do You Properly Sip Mezcal?
Despite all the options mezcal provides in terms of how to drink it, sipping it straight is just as viable of an option.
The keyword is “sip.” If you drink mezcal like it’s a beer then you’ll likely be praying to whatever god you believe in. There’s an art to sipping mezcal too. You don’t want to chug it down like a shot, otherwise, you’ll miss out on its flavor.
Instead, it’s recommended that you put your lips to the rim like you’re giving it a quick kiss. Imagine a father planting a kiss on his son’s cheek and you’ll get the idea. That’s the best way to familiarize yourself with the mezcal’s taste.
You should also sip water in-between mezcal drinks so that you keep your taste palette fresh and alive.
How Long Does Mezcal Last Once It’s opened?
Air does funny things to mezcal. It won’t corrode your alcohol or make it go rancid. In fact, it won’t negatively affect it at all.
Mezcal has an infinite shelf life even after being opened so you can safely drink it without worry. What you should know is that air can affect mezcal’s taste. It can make some mezcals more mellow which could be a good thing if their flavor is too strong for you.
So long as there’s nothing harmful entering your mezcal bottle you shouldn’t fret too much about getting sick from drinking it.
Mezcal provides a chance to learn about history, tradition, community, and drinking. You’ll learn about the world, sustainable practices, honest work, and how our lives are stories to tell.
Additionally, mezcal will teach you about your preferences. It’s a strong drinking option that’ll show you what you like and dislike in your hard drinks. Whether you decide to sip it or add it to a cocktail, you won’t be able to ignore a good mezcal’s presence.
So, as you’ve done by reading this best mezcal brands ranking, take the opportunity to learn. Study the drinks that interest you, look at whether they’re good for mezcal newbies, and earn your stripes as a decorated mezcal fan.
Plus, it’s so much more than just tequila’s harshest, more rugged older cousin. Everyone has a bad story involving tequila, but you can be the star of your friend group by having a good story involving mezcal.
How We Chose the Best Mezcal Brands
Before choosing any brand, we scour the web and all the biggest e-tailers to ensure we know all the available options on the market. We look at customer reviews, star ratings, brand ethos, processes, materials, accessibility, and so much more. We weigh the pros and cons, so you don’t have to, helping you make informed shopping decisions.
Check out other lists of top brands we’ve curated: