This prodigious drink has been apart of human culture since pre-Hispanic times.
It’s evolution has evolved many times over the years in regards to how it is produced.
Since the pre-Hispanic period a conical pit has been used as an oven where maguey hearts or pine cones are cooked.
First, the wood is lit to make a strong enough fire. Then the fire is covered with a layer of stones which help to channel the power of the flames while allowing them to recede.
The stones are then covered with wet bagasse of the same agave and the agave tossed in as many pieces.
Afterward, the pieces are covered with petates or sacks and a thick layer of earth is poured over it, sealing the earthen oven.
Once the maguey is cooked, the hearts are torn apart to make a juicy paste that will be fermented.
The method for fermenting in an artisan way is to put the ground agave (fiber, pulp and juice) inside a wooden tub and leave it there for a few days, allowing it to ferment with natural yeasts.
Next it is distilled. This can be done using Clay Pot Alembics, Copper Alembics (an Arabic technology introduced by the Spanish), Stainless Steel Alembics, and Distillation Columns.
The Mezcal definitions
Young Mezcal (Joven): fresh as it leaves the alembic, silver color.
Rested Mezcal (Reposado): in oak barrels minimum 3 months maximum 12 months.
Aged Mezcal (Añejo): more than 12 months in oak barrels.
Spices and fruits are added in fermentation and distillation.
With additives (Abocado): Worm, Scorpion, Caramelized sugar [as coloring], wood chips, damíana, etc. Almost anything can be used, as long as it does not cause harm to one’s health.