Like tequila, mezcal is made from the agave plant. While tequila can only be made from Blue Agave, mezcal can be distilled from many different varieties of agave, each with their own characteristics. According to Mexican law, that agave has to come from only specific states—Oaxaca, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacan, and Puebla.
With a boom in mezcal sales currently underway, more and more of the spirit will be showing up, so picking the best brand will be important.
IZO uses a special agave that is wild harvested in the high altitude mesas of Durango, Mexico, called Cerizo. The agave grows at altitudes of up to 8,500 feet in dry, cold conditions. To distil the mezcal, IZO uses traditional methods. A pit is dug and lined with volcanic rock. Hand-selected wood from the local area is then added to roast the agave hearts.
The result is a smooth mezcal with a subtle smoke flavour. That smoke flavour is reflected in the bottle, which has a hand-pressed label created on a 19th-century letterpress. The stopper of the bottle is made from onyx stone sourced in the mountains around the distillery. A bottle of IZO Mezcal Joven sells for USD$64.99.