Mezcal has never received much respect in the U.S., but it is “one of the most complex artisanal liquors produced,” said Andrew Knowlton in BonAppetit.com. Tequila’s “smoky cousin” hails from Oaxaca, Mexico, and is created using methods similar to those that produce tequila. The major variation is that the agave plants used in mezcal are cooked before distilling begins. Sip it like Scotch and you might prefer it.
Del Maguey Vida ($36). This smooth spirit is “a good introductory mezcal,” though its distiller also makes an “incredibly complex” $200 bottle that some regard as the “holy grail.”
Los Amantes Reposado ($65). This double-distilled reposado is such an “easy-drinking” mezcal that the label comes with the warning, “Sip it, don’t shoot it.”
Ilegal Anejo ($110). This aged spirit was created by an American expat who tired of playing smuggler.