Mezcal, the agave-based spirit smokier and bolder in taste than tequila, has never been more popular. According to the research firm ReportLinker, the North American mezcal market saw US$326.29 million in sales in 2019 and is expected to hit US$521.11 million by 2027. Statistics from Data Bridge Market Research indicate the global mezcal market reached US$387.10 million in sales in 2021, and is projected to see a rise to US$2.458 billion by 2029, an annual growth rate of almost 23%.
“Once the provenance of craft bartenders and spirits connoisseurs, mezcal has decidedly entered the mainstream,” says Michael Anstendig, a spirits and wine expert and the co-author of the book The Japanese Art of Cocktail Making.
Anstendig noted that, technically speaking, tequila is a subset of mezcal. But while the former can be made only with Blue Weber agave, mezcal uses more than 40 varieties of agave that are aged in the fields for between five to 35 years before they’re harvested.
“The vast majority use Espadin, but there’s also Tobala, Madre Cuishe, Tepeztate, and countless others,” Anstendig says. “Artisanal mezcals are often crafted at small scale family distilleries where the agaves are roasted in traditional covered subterranean pits, which impart a distinctly smoky note.”
He adds that while tequila celebrates aging with expressions such as reposado and anejo, aged mezcals are far less common.
The most affordable bottles of mezcal sell for a minimum of US$45, according to Justin Lane Briggs, the Mexico portfolio manager for Skurnik Wines & Spirits, which manages more than 150 mezcals. He says hat many of the highest quality ones run upwards of US$100 with some clocking in over US$200.
“These mezcals often use hard to find agave and require a labor-intensive process to produce them,” Lane Briggs says. “They’re also produced in micro-quantities in remote parts of Mexico. Some releases may be as few as 100 bottles or even less.”
Below, seven mezcals that are among the rarest priciest available on the market today, as recommended by the experts.
Mezcal Amaras Logia Chuparrosa US$349.99
From Amaras Logia, a brand that offers more than a half dozen mezcal expressions, the Chuparrosa is handcrafted with an agave that bears its name. The plant is sourced in the mountains of Oaxaca’s Chontal region and fermented in open-air vats using wild yeast. It features flavors of roasted coffee and ripe raisins, and the occasional note of citrus also comes through.
Clase Azul Mezcal Guerrero US$349
The papalote agave from Clase Azul’s Guerrero mezcal comes from the little-known state of Guerrero in southwest Mexico along the coast. The seaside setting and the area’s forests impart the agave with a fresh, floral flavor that makes for a citrusy and woody mezcal that’s not smoky in the traditional way. Its decanter is as striking as the spirit and handmade in a process that takes two weeks: jade-colored and adorned with a flower, it has a colorful top with the image of a hummingbird and is a piece to hang onto long after the drink is gone.
El Jolgorio Tobasiche US$245
Established and run by the Cortes family of Oaxaca, El Jolgorio is one of the most in-demand mezcals among serious fans of the spirit. Crafted in small clay pots, this expression uses Tobasiche, a rare species of agave that’s caramel-like and herbaceous and soft when it comes to smoke.
Tlamati Papalometl US$185
Produced in the foothills of Puebla, this expression is made with Papalometl agave, known in Oaxaca as Tobala and one of the most sought-after varieties. With a silky texture, it hits the palate with a burst of tropical fruits and has a creamy finish.
Macurichos Crassispina US$250
Handcrafted with three of the oldest and rarest agave varieties in Oaxaca—Crassispina, Maguey Blanco, and Arroqueño—the Macurichos opens with delicate floral notes followed by hints of bell peppers and jalapenos. In contrast, the finish is all cornsilk and butterscotch. It’s part of Skurnik’s portfolio, and Lane Briggs recommended pairing it with ceviche, pork belly, or a creamy dessert like flan or Pana cotta.
Real Minero Pechuga US$185
The Angeles Carreno family are behind the Real Minero Pechuga and considered to be at the forefront of mezcal production when it comes to studying and preserving agave plants. This expression uses Espadin agave. Similar to most Pechugas, it relies on a combination of fruits, spices, and raw chicken breast—yes, you read that right—during the distillation process for its savory and raisin-like flavor profile.
The Lost Explorer Salmiana US$180
The Salmiana agave in this mezcal grows for 12 years before it’s harvested and stands out for its herbaceous taste. Sweet and spicy at once, the mezcal unfolds slowly on the palate to unearth flavors of oranges, chilies and dried herbs. It’s fresh and bright.