All products and services featured by Variety are independently selected by Variety editors. However, Variety may receive a commission on orders placed through its retail links, and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.
Add some edge, spice and smoke to your margaritas this summer with mezcal. There’s no better time to add to your bar cart than Mezcal Week, which runs from Sept. 8-15.
Considering that the U.S is now the largest consumer of mezcal in the world, it’s almost impossible not to find the agave-based drink at every restaurant and liquor store you go to. It feels like a new mezcal brand is popping up nearly every day, with celebrities such as Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, George Clooney and Adam Levine all touting successful mezcal and tequila companies.
While no one’s complaining about having more mezcal to choose from (Yes, Casamigos really is that good), it’s also important to make sure these newer, U.S companies aren’t siphoning away profits from companies based in Mexico, where the agave is originally sourced. Plus, the more authentically sourced the mezcal is, the better. From Los Amantes to Fidencio Único, here are the best Mexican-owned mezcal brands, all authentically sourced from places like Oaxaca, Condesa and Tulum.
Los Amantes Mezcal
Los Amantes, owned by Ignacio Carballidos, is most well known for their Oaxaca mezcalería, but the Reposado is a good place to start for mezcal newbies, considering its lower alcohol volume and slightly less intense taste. Double-distilled and aged in French oak barrels for six to eight months, it carries aromas of accented wood, coffee beans and caramel. The Oaxacan spirit goes down smoothly for drinkers used to the signature taste of high-end tequila.
Alipús San Juan Oaxaca Mezcal
Made with agave Espadin, Alipús mezcal is distinguished by its mineral and chalky tones, made possible by long fermentation in the red and white soil of Oaxaca. The Mexican spirit was first produced by Mezcalero Joel Antonio Cruz before distillation was turned over to his younger cousin Rodolfo Juan Juarez.
Fidencio Único Mezcal Joven
Ninety one year-old Isaac Jimenez has been producing mezcal in Santiago Matatlán all his life, just like his father and grandfather before him. His Fidencio Único, made out of farm-grown agave Espadin, is known for its slightly sweet taste with subtle aromas of charcoal, green apple and pear. What makes it particularly special is that it’s distilled in a wood-fired Alembic still that was custom designed by their mezcalero, Enrique Jiménez.
Los Nahuales Mezcal Reposado
Owned by Jaimé and Gustavo Muñoz, identical twins, and proprietors of five restaurants in Mexico, the renowned Los Nahaules (known by Los Danzantes in the U.S.) is made with agave Espadin in Santiago. After distillation, 66% of the mezcal is aged in both French Oak and American White Oak barrels for nine months, offering a smooth, light smoky flavor with hints of oak.
The Leyenda Espadin is owned by Danny Mena, one of New York City’s top Mexican chefs. It’s the best choice for adventurous drinkers, giving off uniquely rich aromas of lemongrass and herb of grace, with notes of cane sugar. Rather than producing the agave soley out of Oaxaca, but also out of six other states and territories, such as Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Puebla and even Durango.