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All Spirits Mezcal/Tequila Mezcal Joven – Everything You Need To Know
Mezcal-Joven

Mezcal Joven – Everything You Need To Know

Mezcal Joven refers to a type of mezcal, which is a traditional Mexican spirit made from the agave plant. The word “joven” in Spanish means “young,” and it indicates that this mezcal is relatively unaged. Mezcal Joven is typically clear and unaged, meaning it is bottled soon after distillation. Some Joven mezcals may be rested for a short period in stainless steel tanks or neutral containers. Still, they do not undergo the prolonged aging process that changes the color and flavor profile like reposado or añejo mezcals.

Mezcal Joven is known for its pure and vibrant flavors. It usually exhibits the natural characteristics of the agave and the smokiness from the cooking process. The flavor can vary significantly based on the type of agave used, the region where it’s produced, and the specific production methods. This is a drink popular both in Mexico and internationally and is often enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or as a base for a variety of cocktails.

What is Mezcal Joven?

Unlike tequila, its more famous cousin, Mezcal, can be made from over 30 types of agave, each imparting its unique flavor. Mezcal Joven, being unaged, allows these flavors to shine through in their most natural and unaltered form. However, expect a complex array of tastes. From the smoky notes derived from the traditional pit-oven cooking of the agave to the earthy, sweet, and sometimes even floral undertones, Mezcal Joven is a dance of flavors on your palate.

Mezcal Joven is more than just a drink; it’s a journey through history, culture, and flavor. Whether you’re a seasoned mezcal enthusiast or new to the world of spirits, Mezcal Joven offers an experience that’s both enriching and enlightening.

History of Mezcal Joven

The history of Mezcal Joven, and mezcal in general, is deeply intertwined with the cultural and historical fabric of Mexico. Here’s an overview of its history:

Pre-Hispanic Origins

The history of mezcal dates back to the pre-Hispanic period in Mexico. The indigenous peoples of Mexico had been fermenting agave (known as “maguey” in Mexico) to produce a beverage called “pulque” for centuries. However, the distillation process, which is crucial to producing mezcal, was not known in the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans.

Introduction of Distillation

The Spanish likely introduced the distillation process in the early 16th century. They brought with them the knowledge and technology of distillation, which they applied to the fermented agave beverage to create a spirit. This was partly due to a shortage of brandy and other spirits they were used to in Europe.

Regional Development

Mezcal production is spread across various regions of Mexico, with each area developing its unique style. Oaxaca, in particular, became a major center for mezcal production, given its ideal climate and soil conditions for growing diverse types of agave.

Traditional Methods

The traditional methods of making mezcal, including the underground roasting of the agave, crushing, fermenting, and distilling, have been passed down through generations. This process gives Mezcal Joven its characteristic smoky flavor and aroma.

Mezcal Joven

As a specific category, Mezcal Joven refers to the unaged or minimally aged variety. Its clear appearance and pure agave flavor are indicative of the spirit in its most traditional form, without the influence of barrel aging.

20th Century to Present

The popularity of mezcal, including Mezcal Joven, grew slowly, primarily remaining a regional spirit. However, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, mezcal began to gain international recognition, appreciated for its artisanal production and complex flavor profiles.

Did You Know?

  • Mezcal Joven’s vibrant and robust flavors make it a versatile spirit for cocktails. Its complexity and unique characteristics can add depth and intrigue to various mixed drinks.
  • Mezcal Joven is produced in various regions of Mexico, including but not limited to Oaxaca, Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosi, and Zacatecas. Each region has unique agave varieties and production traditions, resulting in diverse Joven Mezcal offerings.
  • The production of Mezcal Joven often involves traditional methods, like cooking the agave in earthen pits lined with lava rocks, wood, and charcoal, giving it a distinctive smoky flavor.
  • The agave used in mezcal is traditionally cooked in pit ovens dug into the ground, lined with lava rocks, and filled with wood and charcoal. This imparts Mezcal Joven with its distinctive smoky flavor, a hallmark of the spirit.

How Adaptable is Mezcal Joven?

Mezcal Joven is remarkably adaptable, both in terms of its culinary versatility and its ability to resonate across various cultural and social contexts. Here are some key aspects of its adaptability:

Culinary Versatility

  • Mezcal Joven’s clear, vibrant, and smoky profile makes it an excellent base for a wide range of cocktails, and it can substitute for other spirits in classic recipes or be the centerpiece in new, inventive mixes. Its smoky characteristic adds depth and complexity to cocktails that are distinctly different from other spirits like vodka or gin.
  • Its unique flavor profile pairs well with a variety of foods. It complements spicy and savory dishes, typical in Mexican cuisine, and can also balance well with sweet or acidic flavors. Mezcal Joven can be a surprising and delightful accompaniment to a gourmet meal.

Cultural Adaptability

  • While deeply rooted in Mexican tradition, Mezcal Joven has gained international popularity. It appeals to a broad audience, from spirit enthusiasts who appreciate its artisanal production and complex flavor profile to casual consumers looking for a new experience.
  • Mezcal Joven fits various social settings, from casual gatherings to formal celebrations. 

Adaptation to Market Trends

  • There’s a growing trend towards artisanal, handcrafted spirits. Mezcal Joven, often produced in small batches with traditional methods, aligns well with this movement.
  • The trend towards natural, less processed products in the health and wellness space has also seen a shift in preferences in alcohol consumption. Mezcal Joven, being a pure distillate without added flavors or aging processes, resonates with this trend.

Mezcal Joven Regulations

The regulations for mezcal, including Mezcal Joven, differ from those for tequila, although both are Mexican spirits made from agave. The Mexican government governs the regulatory framework for mezcal and is specifically designed to maintain the traditional production methods and ensure the quality of the spirit. Here are the key regulations that apply to mezcal:

  • Mezcal has a Denomination of Origin (similar to tequila), which means it can only be produced in certain regions of Mexico. These include Oaxaca, Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, and a few other regions.
  • While there is some overlap (e.g., parts of Zacatecas), regions for tequila production (primarily Jalisco) and mezcal production are largely distinct.
  • Unlike tequila, which must be made from blue agave, mezcal can be made from over 30 different types of agave. This diversity is a key feature of mezcal, including Mezcal Joven.
  • Mezcal production often involves traditional methods like cooking the agave in earthen pits, which imparts a distinctive smoky flavor.
  • The distillation process must meet certain standards, and it often takes place in small, artisanal distilleries. The use of copper stills is common, but other materials can also be used.
  • Mezcal is classified based on aging: Joven (unaged), Reposado (aged 2-12 months), Añejo (aged more than a year), and others. Mezcal Joven is clear and bottled soon after distillation.

What are the Ingredients in Mezcal Joven?

Mezcal Joven is a relatively simple spirit in terms of ingredients, but the process of making it is what lends it complexity and depth. Here are the primary ingredients involved in its production:

  • Agave plant
  • Water
  • Yeast

What are the Tools Used to Make Mezcal Joven? 

  • Coa de Jima or Agave Knife
  • Earthen Pits and Stone-Lined Ovens
  • Tahona or Molino (Grinding Stone or Mill)
  • Measuring and Testing Equipment
  • Storage Containers
  • Bottling Equipment
  • Wooden Fermentation Vats
  • Copper or Clay Distillation Stills

How is Mezcal Joven Made?

The production of Mezcal Joven is a meticulous process that combines traditional methods with the unique qualities of the agave plant. Here’s a step-by-step overview of how Mezcal Joven is made:

Harvesting the Agave

  • The process begins with the selection and harvesting of mature agave plants, which can take anywhere from 7 to 30 years to reach maturity, depending on the species.
  • Using a tool called a “Coa de Jima,” the leaves of the agave are chopped off to reveal the core or “piña,” which is used for making mezcal.

Cooking the Agave

  • The piñas are then cooked, typically in earthen pits. These pits are dug into the ground and lined with hot stones heated by a wood fire.
  • The piñas are placed on the stones, covered with agave leaves or a tarp, and then buried in the soil. This slow-cooking process, which can take several days, imparts a distinctive smoky flavor to the agave.

Milling the Cooked Agave

  • After cooking, the softened agave is crushed to extract the juices. This is traditionally done with a stone wheel called a “tahona,” pulled by animals, or in more modern setups, with mechanical mills.
  • The goal is to extract the fermentable sugars from the agave fibers.

Fermentation

  • The crushed agave is placed in open-air fermentation vats, typically made of wood. Here, natural yeasts from the environment initiate the fermentation of the sugars into alcohol.
  • This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the environmental conditions and desired mezcal profile.

Distillation

  • The fermented agave juice (now called “mosto”) is distilled in either copper pot stills or traditional clay stills. The first distillation produces a liquid called “ordinario.”
  • A second distillation refines the liquid into a clearer, purer spirit. The skill of the mezcalero (mezcal producer) is crucial in determining the cut points for the head, heart, and tail of the distillation, which affects the final flavor.

Bottling

  • Mezcal Joven is bottled immediately after distillation. 
  • Unlike aged mezcals (like Reposado or Añejo), Joven mezcal is unaged, allowing it to maintain a clear color and a pure expression of the agave and the artisanal production process.

Throughout the production process, great care is taken to maintain the traditional methods and flavors that define Mezcal Joven. The final product is a clear, unaged spirit that showcases the natural flavors of the agave plant and the unique terroir of the region where it was produced. The smoky flavor, a result of the cooking process, is a signature characteristic of mezcal, setting it apart from other agave-based spirits like tequila.

How is Mezcal Joven Different from Others?

Mezcal Joven distinguishes itself from other types of mezcal and spirits in several key aspects, ranging from its production process to its flavor profile. Here’s a breakdown of how Mezcal Joven differs from other varieties:

Aging Process

  • Unaged: Mezcal Joven, as indicated by the name “joven” (young in Spanish), is unaged. This means it is bottled and sold shortly after distillation without any aging in barrels.
  • Comparison with Aged Mezcals: Other types of mezcal, like Reposado or Añejo, are aged in wooden barrels for various periods, resulting in changes in flavor, color, and texture. Mezcal Joven retains the purest form of the agave and the smoky flavor imparted by the traditional cooking process.

Flavor Profile

  • Clear and Pure Agave Flavor: Mezcal Joven offers a clear and vibrant taste that directly reflects the natural flavors of the agave plant and the smokiness from the cooking process.
  • Variation from Other Spirits: Compared to spirits like tequila (specifically made from blue agave), mezcal can be made from over 30 types of agave, leading to a broader range of flavors. Mezcal Joven typically has a more pronounced smokiness than tequila due to the different production methods.

Color and Clarity

Clear Appearance: Mezcal Joven is notable for its clarity. It lacks the coloration that comes from aging in barrels, which is evident in varieties like Mezcal Reposado (light brown) or Añejo (darker brown).

Production Techniques

Traditional Methods: The production of Mezcal Joven often involves traditional methods like cooking the agave in earthen pits, which is a practice less common in the production of some other spirits, including many tequilas.

Types of Mezcal Joven

Mezcal Joven, while a specific category within mezcal, can come in various types based on the agave species used, production methods, and specific regional practices. Here’s a breakdown of the different types you might encounter:

Espadín Agave Mezcal Joven

This is the most common type of mezcal, made from the Espadín agave species. It’s known for its balanced and approachable flavor profile, often featuring smoky, sweet, and earthy notes.

Wild Agave Mezcal Joven

These mezcals are made from wild agave species, such as Tobalá, Tepeztate, or Madrecuixe. They are often more complex and varied in flavor, as wild agaves grow in different microclimates and have diverse profiles.

Ensamble (Blend) Mezcal Joven

Ensamble mezcals are blends of different agave species, either harvested wild or cultivated. The combination of agave types creates a unique and complex flavor profile that showcases the skill of the mezcalero (mezcal maker).

Pechuga Mezcal Joven

Although more commonly found in aged mezcals, some joven versions exist. Pechuga involves a unique distillation process where fruits, spices, and sometimes a raw chicken breast (Pechuga) are suspended in the still during distillation, adding unique flavors.

Artisanal and Ancestral Mezcal Joven

These mezcals emphasize traditional production methods, such as using a tahona (stone wheel) for crushing agave, pit roasting, and clay pots for distillation. They often have a distinctly smoky and rich flavor.

Single Village or Single Estate Mezcal Joven

These mezcals are produced in a specific village or estate, highlighting the terroir and the local mezcalero’s style. They can vary greatly depending on the region and specific production techniques.

Organic Mezcal Joven

Made from organically grown agave, these mezcals appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. They are produced following organic farming and production practices.

Geographical Variants

Different regions in Mexico produce distinct styles of Mezcal Joven. For example, Oaxacan mezcal is renowned for its quality and traditional methods, while mezcals from Durango or Michoacán offer their unique regional characteristics.

Each type of Mezcal Joven brings its nuances and complexities, influenced by the agave species, local terroir, and the mezcalero’s craft. This diversity makes Mezcal Joven a fascinating and varied category within the world of spirits.

Buy Mezcal Joven Online

Many high brands have been recognized for producing high-quality Mezcal Joven. While the Mezcal industry is evolving rapidly and new brands can emerge, some of the top brands that have been noted for producing Mezcal Joven include:

Del Maguey

This brand has been a significant player in bringing artisanal and traditional Mezcal to the international market. Their Single Village Mezcals capture the essence of the village where they are produced.

Vago

Mezcal Vago offers a variety of expressions, including Joven Mezcals, that showcase the distinct character of the agave and the master Mezcalero behind each batch.

Real Minero

Known for its traditional and artisanal production methods, Real Minero has been recognized for producing some of the finest Mezcals.

El Jolgorio

This brand offers artisanal Mezcals, including several Joven expressions highlighting different agave species.

Alipús

Alipús focuses on capturing the terroir of specific regions and villages in Oaxaca, producing Joven Mezcals with distinct characteristics.

Mezcaloteca

While it’s more known as a tasting room in Oaxaca City, Mezcaloteca also bottles some unique and high-quality Joven Mezcals.

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Mezcaloteca

Bruxo

This brand offers a range of Mezcals, including Joven expressions, that emphasize sustainable production and a deep respect for tradition.

La Medida

With a variety of agave species and different Joven expressions, La Medida showcases the biodiversity of Mezcal.

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La Medida

Gracias a Dios

This brand has a range of Joven Mezcals, including traditional species like Espadín and rare ones like Tobalá.

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Gracias a Dios

Siete Misterios

Siete Misterios produces traditionally made Mezcals and offers several Joven expressions focusing on different agave types.

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Siete Misterios

Other brands you might like sipping are: 

  • Los Amantes
  • Montelobos
  • Espíritu Lauro 
  • Farolito 
  • Banhez 
  • Bozal 
  • Cruz de Fuego 
  • Derrumbes
  • Nuestra Soledad
  • Rey Campero 

Recipe Variation

Here are a few top cocktail recipes that showcase Mezcal Joven:

The Smoky Paloma

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Mezcal oven
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • ½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ oz agave syrup (or simple syrup)
  • Soda water
  • Grapefruit wedge, for garnish
  • Salt, for rimming the glass (optional)

Instructions:

  • Rim a highball or Collins glass with salt (optional). To do this, rub a grapefruit or lime wedge around the rim of the glass, then dip it into a plate with salt.
  • Fill the glass with ice cubes.
  • Combine Mezcal Joven, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and agave syrup in a shaker. Add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously to chill the mixture for 10-15 seconds.
  • Strain the mixture into the prepared glass over the ice.
  • Top with soda water to your preference, leaving some room for garnish.
  • Garnish with a grapefruit wedge on the rim of the glass.
  • Give it a gentle stir to mix the ingredients together.

Mezcal Margarita

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Mezcal Joven
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau (or any orange liqueur)
  • 1/2 oz agave syrup (adjust to taste)
  • Salt for the rim (optional)

Instructions:

  • Rim a glass with salt if desired.
  • Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.
  • Shake and strain into the glass.
  • Garnish with a lime wheel.

Mezcal Paloma

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Mezcal Joven
  • 3 oz grapefruit soda (like Squirt or Jarritos)
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • A pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • Combine Mezcal, lime juice, and salt in a glass filled with ice.
  • Top off with grapefruit soda.
  • Stir gently to combine.
  • Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

Mezcal Negroni

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Mezcal Joven
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
  • Stir until well chilled.
  • Strain into a glass over a large ice cube.
  • Garnish with an orange peel.

Smoky Pineapple Mezcalita

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Mezcal Joven
  • 2 oz fresh pineapple juice
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz agave syrup (adjust to taste)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Chili powder (optional, for rim)

Instructions:

  • Optionally rim a glass with a mix of chili powder and salt.
  • In a shaker with ice, combine Mezcal, pineapple, lime, agave syrup, and salt.
  • Shake and strain into the glass.
  • Garnish with a pineapple wedge or leaf.

Oaxacan Old Fashioned

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz Mezcal Joven
  • 1/2 oz aged tequila (like a reposado or añejo)
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Instructions:

  • In a mixing glass with ice, combine all the ingredients.
  • Stir until well chilled.
  • Strain into a glass over a large ice cube.
  • Garnish with an orange twist.

Enjoy your tequila cocktails! Please remember to drink responsibly. 

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