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The 15 Best Mezcals for 2024

Mezcal enthusiasts, of which there is a growing, occasionally dogmatic rank in the U.S., can reasonably argue that theirs is the ultimate spirit. Mezcal’s mid-aughts adoption in cocktail culture helped breathe new life into familiar cocktails via simple riffs, and gifted drinkers with more than a handful of beloved modern classics.

While those drinks rely on larger brands placed for that very use (like Del Maguey in the Naked & Famous), the category is overwhelmingly made up of small to tiny-scale producers. These artisans employ hands-on, traditional techniques, harnessing the diversity of seemingly endless species of agave to provide stunningly complex sipping spirits.

With much to geek out on, VinePair’s guide to the different types of mezcal, and the different varieties used in production, offers a comprehensive primer. But we’re here to explore brands, expressions, and the best bottles available right now on the U.S. market.

To compile this list, we tasted more than 60 samples submitted to VinePair (gratis) by producers, importers, distributors, and PR firms working on their behalf. Each was tasted non-blind, allowing us to factor price into our conclusion, and ultimately determine whether the bottle was worthy of inclusion on this list — the aim of which is not just to highlight the crème de la crème, but the best offerings across a wide range of price points.

Here are the 15 best mezcals to drink in 2024.

The Best Mezcals Under $50

Sueño de Alden Mezcal Espadín

Bottled at 42 percent ABV and priced at less than 40 bucks, this Espadín is an approachable intro to mezcal. Its green, vegetal notes will appeal to tequila drinkers, while subtle accents of smoke confirm we’re in a different category of spirit.

Average price: $39
Rating: 90

Palomo Mezcal Espadín Joven

While a muted nose limits the enjoyment of sipping this mezcal, its intense concentration of classic Espadín flavors, assertive 46 percent ABV, and affordable MSRP — $40 for a 1-liter bottle — make Palomo an excellent option for Oaxaca Old Fashioneds, Mezcal Negronis, and beyond.

Average price: $40
Rating: 91

Agave de Cortés Mezcal Joven

The Cortés family’s mezcal-making roots run six generations deep, and the producer continues to use ancestral practices for this minerally, green, lightly fruity mezcal. All in all, that’s a decent proposition considering the price, which also keeps cocktails in the equation. But its ever so slightly austere character lends this mezcal more to soda and lime, or even a Mezcal Paloma.

Average price: $41
Rating: 92

Tosba Espadín

Whether you consider a product “entry level” based on price or mass-market appeal, this Espadín offers the pinnacle on both fronts. It might not be the cheapest bottle on this list, but its attractive nose — with floral, fruity, candied, and lightly smoky aromas — and flavorful palate mean newbies and seasoned agave spirits drinkers alike have much to savor here.

Average price: $48
Rating: 93

The Best Mezcals Under $100

Mezcal Unión El Viejo

A blend of Espadín and Tobalá, El Viejo effuses BBQ and baking spice aromas, then quickly returns to green, vegetal, smoky notes on the palate. That overall punchy profile promises to shine through in cocktails and please those looking for dialed-up smoke that simultaneously doesn’t hijack the show.

Average price: $50
Rating: 92

Mezcal Vago Espadín Emigdio Jarquin

The myth that Espadín is nothing other than a “workhorse” agave quickly becomes dispelled once you pass the $50 barrier, and this expression from Emigdio Jarquin — one of four producers in the Mezcal Vago roster — is a shining example. Amplified aromas of green mango and minerally wet rocks set the stage, while the palate counters with surprisingly savory notes and a nice bite of alcohol that propels a lengthy finish.

Average price: $52
Rating: 92

Nuestra Soledad San Luis del Río

To explore the true diversity of Espadín, and influence of location and approach to production, seek out Nuestra Soledad, a collection of six expressions of the variety from six different producers. This offering, from San Luis del Río and mezcaleros Ivan and Paco Méndez, is a bright, punchy, mezcal, with generous servings of mesquite smoke, poblano peppers, and savory leather notes.

Average price: $70
Rating: 92

Espina Negra Tepeztate Joven Mezcal Artesanal

This transportive Tepeztate from Santa Ana del Río, Oaxaca, brims with herbal, earthy, aloe vera aromas. Bottled at 45 percent ABV, it walks a fine line of having intense flavor notes — savory smoke building upon the green nose — while not overpowering the palate. Great for sipping and simple summer highballs.

Average price: $80
Rating: 93

El Buho Especial Ensamble

This ensamble of Arroqueño, Coyote, Barril, and Cuishe is a skilly balanced blend, with the four varieties roasted, mashed, and ultimately fermented together. Its expressive nose darts from green fruit to honey to tart berries, enticing you to sip. The palate leans more minerally and savory, but offers just as much range and depth.

Average price: $94
Rating: 93

Bozal Mezcal Jamón Ibérico Sacrificio Mezcal

A blend of Espadín, Mexicano, and Tobasiche, this “sacrificial” mezcal includes Jamón Ibérico, herbs, spices, and seasonal fruits in its final distillation. Traditionally produced for ceremonial, non-commercial purposes, it’s the fruit and spices that really shine through here, with notes of dark chocolate, orange peel, and white flowers prominent throughout. A special-occasion sipper to share.

Average price: $99
Rating: 93

The Best Mezcals Over $100

Cinco Sentidos Cuishe

Technically sold as an uncertified agave spirit, this mezcal is produced from wild-harvested Cuishe that’s roasted with mesquite firewood and hand-chopped and mashed prior to fermentation. Its profile is lithe and clean, serving bountiful helpings of pineapple, jalapeño, and mineral notes. Smoke is an afterthought, and one that adds just a touch of savory character to the palate and finish, elevating the sipping experience to the next level.

Average price: $125
Rating: 94

Sanzekan Lorenzo Cupreata Destilado de Agave

From Guerrero, a coastal state that neighbors Oaxaca to the west, this is a beautifully complex sipping agave spirit. Its distinctive character spans an impressively broad range of tasting notes, from fresh herbs to underripe, tart berries, white pepper, chocolate, and savory leather. Price and profile both place this as one to drink neat — and a rewarding experience that proves to be.

Average price: $130
Rating: 94

Mezcal Ultramundo Maguey Lamparillo

Maguey Lamparillo is a little-encountered wild variety in the world of mezcal that takes 15 to 20 years to reach maturity. Once those plants have done so at Ultramundo’s Rancho Pelayo, the producer employs the capón technique, cutting off their stalks and leaving them in the ground for additional months to enhance the agave and its eventual flavor profile. All those years and months prove worth the wait, resulting in an exceptionally complex and unique mezcal, redolent of baking spices, capsicums, incense, olives, and brown sugar — to name but a few of the tasting notes we encountered.

Average price: $150
Rating: 95

NETA Tequilana Capón

Prior to the pandemic, the Tequilana agave (Blue Weber) grown by producer Wilfrido García Sánchez’s uncle Lalo made its way to Jalisco, where it was used to make unidentified tequilas. When those commercial relationships broke down because of shutdowns, Wilfrido and brother Ramón started crafting their uncle’s agave into fine, small-batch sipping spirits. One such example, this is a beautifully expressive release that begins citrusy, fruity, and mineral-rich, with an almost ghee-like quality lingering beneath. The palate is similarly bright and intense, with a finish that lasts an age.

Average price: $190
Rating: 96

Mezcasiarca Destilado de Agave Ensamble Ancestral

This ensamble of Tobasiche, Barril, and Espadín is texturally rich and profound in its depth of aromas and flavors. Equally green, smoky, and earthy on the nose — thanks to that blend — the palate is more impressive for its weight, mineral-like texture, evolution, and spiced finish. The overall profile is like a greatest hits of mezcal, more than making up for its lofty price tag.

Average price: $198
Rating: 95

Best Mass Market Mezcals

While all the bottles featured on this list are currently available in the United States, most are small production and a majority are not available nationally. With that in mind, here are a handful of brands and expressions you can find in most liquor stores that we’ve previously enjoyed (especially in cocktails) and reviewed:

Del Maguey
El Silencio
Gracias a Dios


What’s the difference between tequila and mezcal?

Both tequila and mezcal are spirits distilled from the agave plant. While mezcal can be made from a range of agave varieties in various states across Mexico, by law tequila must be made with Tequilana Weber or Blue Weber agave in the Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Tamaulipas, Michoacan, and Guanajuato. (Check out this guide for more on the differences between tequila and mezcal.)

Is mezcal stronger than tequila?

It depends on the bottle. Most mezcals and tequilas will be within the 36–55 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) range. And while you can find bottles of each spirit at both ends of the range, you’ll more often find tequilas at 40 percent ABV and mezcals a little higher.

Can you drink mezcal straight?

Many drinks professionals recommend drinking mezcal straight, sipped neat with water on the side. But there are plenty of cocktails that the smoky spirit lends itself to, too. (Check out this guide on how to drink mezcal.)

Which is smoother: mezcal or tequila?

Smoothness is a very subjective quality in spirits. While a certain expression of mezcal might be smooth to you, it might not be to another drinker. Similarly, you might not find a certain tequila smooth while someone else might. Which is to say that it depends: on the quality of the spirit, the distillation process, and your own personal perception. But as far as categories go, between mezcal and tequila, we wouldn’t say one is smoother than the other.

Does mezcal give you a hangover?

“Mezcal doesn’t give you a hangover.” You’ve probably heard this before. And while there is no science to support this claim, lots of folks say they feel less crummy after a night of drinking mezcal or mezcal-based cocktails. While any mezcal made without additives — like sugar, colorings, or other chemicals — will probably make you feel less bad in the morning, as with any alcohol, drinking enough mezcal (read: too much) will indeed lead to a hangover.

VinePair’s Tasting Methodology: How We Rate

VinePair conducts numerous tastings for our popular Buy This Booze column and wine and spirits reviews. Our mission is to offer a clear, reliable source of information for drinkers, providing an overview applicable to day-to-day buying and drinking.

In alignment with our reviews mission, we believe in purposefully tasting all products as our readers typically would, with full knowledge of the producer, the region, and the price. Tastings are therefore not conducted blind.

For Buy This Booze roundups, while we will taste multiple expressions from one brand, we typically include only one expression per brand.

For this mezcal roundup, our overall aim was to provide a complete overview of the growing category and to highlight bottles that are standouts in terms of profile, value, and price. We are confident that every bottle included in this final list delivers on flavor, balance, depth, and complexity for its respective price point.

*Image retrieved from cesar via

The article The 15 Best Mezcals for 2024 appeared first on VinePair.

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