What is Tepeztate Mezcal?

What is Tepeztate Mezcal?

Tepeztate Mezcal, also known as Tepextate Mezcal, is a unique variety of mezcal crafted using the Agave marmorata, colloquially referred to as Tepextate. This agave variety undergoes a lengthy maturation period of approximately 25 years in the wild, growing in challenging conditions on steep slopes and rocky soils. This extended growth period contributes to the higher price of Tepextate compared to the more common Espadin variety. Quite a long life…

A photo of a tepeztate agave

Tepextate or Tepeztate?

You might have noticed two different spellings for this type of mezcal – Tepextate and Tepeztate. Both terms, along with various regional names such as Pichomel, Pitzometl, Maguey Curandero, Huiscole, or Becuela, refer to the same type of agave and mezcal. The difference in spelling is due to regional variations in language and pronunciation, but they both refer to the same agave plant and the mezcal produced from it.

Tepeztate Tasting Notes

Tepeztate mezcal is distinguished by its fresh flavor and herbal notes along with rich and robust spicy flavors and mineral elements. Its flavor profile is significantly deeper and offers more complexity compared to espadin mezcal.

Maguey vs. Agave

Before we delve deeper into the specifics of Tepeztate, it’s important to understand the terms maguey and agave. Both terms are used to refer to the succulent plants used to produce mezcal, but they are not exactly the same. Agave is the scientific term for the plant family, while maguey is a term used in Mexico to refer to certain types of agave. All magueys are agaves, but not all agaves are magueys. Tepeztate for example, is the name of the maguey, it is part of the Agave marmorata family.

Tepeztate Price Level

Due to its long maturation period and the challenging conditions in which it grows, Tepeztate mezcal tends to be more expensive than other varieties. This particular agave has a relatively low sugar content in its core, requiring a larger quantity of agave plants to produce a single bottle of mezcal. For example, approximately 100 pounds of Tepextate are needed to produce a bottle of distilled spirits, while only 40 pounds are required for Espadin for the distilation.

Wild Agave

Tepeztate is a wild agave, meaning it grows naturally in the wild and is not being cultivated. This is in contrast to domesticated agaves like Espadin, which are commonly grown in plantations. The wild nature of Tepeztate contributes to its unique flavor profile, which it takes from its surroundings, soil, air, altitude and many more factors.

Sustainability Concerns: The Future of Tepeztate Mezcal

The increasing demand for Tepeztate mezcal, coupled with its long maturation period and rising production numbers of agave spirits, raises concerns about the sustainability of this agave variety. The plant takes up to 25 years to mature in the wild, and overharvesting could potentially lead to its extinction.

As a result, there is a growing call within the industry for sustainable harvesting practices to ensure the future of Tepeztate mezcal. This includes allowing the plant to fully mature and produce seeds before harvesting, as well as exploring cultivation methods that could supplement wild populations. By adopting these practices, we can ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy this unique and flavorful spirit.

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    Since 2018, Alex keeps coming back to Oaxaca to to enjoy the food and the agave spirits of this wonderful state. Favorite: Tepeztate.