The best mezcal tours in Oaxaca

The 3 Best Mezcal Tours in Oaxaca

The culture of Oaxaca is not just about its vibrant colors and rich history, but it’s also the birthplace of one of Mexico’s most intriguing spirits – Mezcal!! If you don’t know much about mezcal and the production behind it all, well you are in luck! 

One of the unmissable activities to do in Oaxaca is go on a mezcal tour where you can immerse in the experience from farm to glass. Even if you don’t drink mezcal, a tour will leave you with an appreciation for this spirit. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the Best Mezcal Tours in Oaxaca. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out by email or through the comment section below.  

Why Mezcal Tours are a Must in Oaxaca

The History of Mezcal in Oaxaca

Mezcal is more than just a drink in Oaxaca; it’s a cultural heritage. This traditional spirit, distilled from agave, has been at the heart of Oaxacan culture for centuries.

What Sets Oaxaca’s Mezcal Apart

Oaxaca’s unique climate and soil give its mezcal a distinct flavor that you won’t find anywhere else. Each sip tells a story of the land and the people who have perfected this craft over generations.

Top Mezcal Tours in Oaxaca

Tour Option 1: Traditional Mezcal Making Experience – LAS BUGAMBILIAS

Las Bugambilias

When it comes to truly understanding and appreciating Oaxacan mezcal, there’s no better way than the Traditional Mezcal Making Experience with Las Bugambilias. This tour isn’t just about tasting mezcal; it’s a deep dive into the heart of mezcal culture.

The Mezcal Process

As part of this tour, you’ll visit local distilleries tucked away in the picturesque landscapes of Oaxaca. Here, the age-old process of mezcal-making unfolds before your eyes. You’ll get to see the entire process – from the harvesting of the agave plants to the final distillation. This is where tradition meets craftsmanship.

Hands-On Experience

What sets the Las Bugambilias tour apart is the hands-on experience. You’re not just an observer; you’re an active participant. You will get your hands dirty as you learn about the cooking, fermenting, and distilling processes. It’s a unique opportunity to engage with the mezcaleros – the master mezcal makers who have been perfecting this art for generations.

Josh and I sitting on top of cut agave

Connecting with the Roots of Mezcal

The tour provides an intimate understanding of not just how mezcal is made, but also its cultural significance in Oaxaca. Mezcal is more than a drink here – it’s a way of life. By the end of the tour, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for this spirit, the people who make it, and the land that gives it life.

Booking Your Experience

To book this tour, head over to Las Bugambilias’ Mezcal Distillery Tour page for more details. Don’t miss out on this incredible journey through taste, tradition, and time.

Tour Option 2: Airbnb Experience – Artisanal Mezcal Distillery Tour

Embark on a Mezcal Adventure from Oaxaca to Santiago Matatlán

The artisanal mezcal journey begins right from the heart of Oaxaca City called, Jalatlaco, and the van will take you to Santiago Matatlán – known as “The World’s Mezcal Capital.” This town is celebrated as the largest mezcal producer in all of Mexico, setting the stage for an authentic experience in mezcal discovery.

Exploring the Mezcal Heartlands

In Santiago Matatlán, you will go to a couple of distilleries to witness the art of artisanal mezcal production firsthand. During this tour, you will learn every step involved in crafting this iconic drink and appreciate the immense labor that goes into each bottle.

Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Access

What made this tour particularly special was the exclusive access we had. We ventured into private areas usually off-limits, like a cellar where mezcal is aged in barrels and even a packing area. Here, we weren’t just observers; we got to be a part of the process – a truly hands-on experience!

Aged artisanal mezcal

A Tasting Like No Other

Following the behind-the-scenes exploration, you get to dive into an extensive mezcal tasting session. This isn’t just any tasting; it’s an exploration of unlimited mezcal varieties. We must have tried about 12 different artisanal mezcals. 

During the tastings, you discuss different categories, classes, and the unique characteristics of each type. It’s an enlightening experience, deepening our understanding and appreciation for mezcal. 

Discovering the Agave Fields

After the mezcal tastings, the journey continues to the breathtaking agave fields. It’s a photographer’s paradise, with endless opportunities to capture stunning shots and videos. Depending on the season, you engage in activities like planting, cutting, or harvesting the agave.

Culminating with Traditional Oaxacan Cuisine

To round off your adventure, you are treated to a rich and traditional Oaxacan meal. It was the perfect way to conclude our day – savoring the flavors of Oaxaca after immersing ourselves in the world of mezcal.

The traditional Oaxacan meal after our tasting tour

Booking Your Artisanal Mezcal Experience

Ready to embark on this unique artisanal mezcal journey and enjoy traditional Oaxacan cuisine? Head over to the Airbnb Artisanal Mezcal Distillery Tour page for more details and to reserve your spot. This tour offers a comprehensive exploration of artisanal mezcals – from production to tasting, and a visit to the agave fields capped off with delicious local cuisine.

  • Tip: If the date you’re looking for isn’t available, just message them through Airbnb to arrange an alternative. 

Tour Option 3: Guided Mezcal Tasting Tour – Mezcal Educational Tours

A Personal Journey into Mezcal’s Essence

We recently embarked on a remarkable adventure with the Guided Mezcal Tasting Tour by Mezcal Educational Tours. This isn’t just any tour; it’s a deep and personal journey into the heart of Oaxaca’s mezcal culture, perfect for everyone from beginners to seasoned connoisseurs.

Expert Guidance Through Mezcal’s World

Conducted by seasoned professionals Alvin Starkman, a social anthropologist, and Randall Stockton, a veteran of the American bar industry, this tour is a deep dive into mezcal. Both are not just guides but experts recognized for their knowledge in local distilled beverages, and they are licensed by the Mexican government to lead these insightful excursions.

A variety of artisanal mezcals

Starting in “The World’s Mezcal Capital”

Our adventure began in the heart of Oaxaca City, from where we traveled to Santiago Matatlán – known as “The World’s Mezcal Capital.” Here, amidst the largest mezcal-producing region in Mexico, we visited various distilleries to see the traditional methods of mezcal production up close.

Exclusive Access and Hands-On Experience

This tour provided unique access to areas usually unseen by the public. We explored cellars where mezcal ages gracefully in barrels and participated in the packing process, gaining a true insider’s perspective. Their approach is all about customization, ensuring each experience caters to the specific interests of the visitors.

Unraveling the Mysteries of Mezcal

Our journey continued with an unlimited mezcal tasting, where we delved into various categories, classes, and varieties. The educational aspect was incredibly enriching, highlighting the cultural dimension and the significance of mezcal in rural Zapotec communities.

Venturing into the Agave Fields

A highlight was our visit to the stunning agave fields. Here, we immersed ourselves in the beauty of the landscape, capturing unforgettable photos and even participating in activities like agave plantation or harvest, depending on the season.

Exploring the agave plants in Oaxaca
Exploring the agave plants

Culminating with Oaxacan Gastronomy

After an insightful day, we indulged in rich, traditional Oaxacan cuisine – a perfect pairing to the mezcal experience. This meal wasn’t just about savoring flavors; it was a celebration of Oaxacan culture.

Booking Your Experience

For those planning a visit, it’s recommended to email Alvin or Randall for further details and bookings at or on their Instagram: mezcaled well in advance to ensure availability. Their tours are highly sought after, and for a good reason – they offer an unparalleled mezcal experience.

This tour is more than just learning about mezcal; it’s an intimate journey into the heart of Oaxaca’s spirit. Whether you’re a mezcal enthusiast, interested in the culture, or simply looking for a unique experience, this tour promises a day filled with learning, tasting, and unforgettable memories.

What to Expect on a Mezcal Tour

Learning About the Mezcal Production Process

Embarking on a mezcal tour in Oaxaca is like entering a world where tradition meets artistry. The journey begins in the fields, where you’ll see the agave plants in their natural habitat. Here, you learn about the different types of agave and how each variety contributes to the mezcal’s unique profile.

Barrel-aged artisanal mezcals

Next, you’ll witness the heart of the production – the roasting of the agave. This process is where agave hearts (piñas) are cooked, often in earthen pits, infusing them with that distinctive smoky flavor mezcal is known for. As you watch the mezcaleros at work, you’ll gain an appreciation for the time-honored techniques passed down through generations.

The fermentation stage is where the magic really starts to happen. You’ll see how the cooked agave is mashed and then left to ferment, transforming its natural sugars into alcohol. This part of the process is as much an art as it is a science, with each mezcalero adding their personal touch.

Finally, the distillation. This is where the fermented agave juice is refined into the clear, potent spirit we know as mezcal. Witnessing the distillation process, often in rustic, wood-fired stills, is a lesson in patience and precision.

Tasting and Understanding Different Mezcals

After learning about the production, it’s time for the most awaited part – the tasting. Mezcal tastings are an exploration of the senses. You’ll learn to identify the subtle differences between joven (young), reposado (rested), and añejo (aged) mezcals.

Each tasting will reveal a new layer of complexity in flavor and aroma. From the herbal, earthy notes of a joven mezcal to the smoother, wood-infused undertones of an añejo, you’ll start to understand how time and technique shape each mezcal’s character.

Your guide will teach you how to taste mezcal–slowly savoring each sip, letting it roll over your tongue to catch every note and nuance properly. You’ll learn about the importance of color, clarity, and viscosity, and how each aspect contributes to the overall experience.

A mezcal tour is not just about drinking; it’s a journey through history, culture, and flavor. By the end, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for this exquisite spirit and the rich traditions that go into making it.

How to Choose the Right Mezcal Tour

Selecting the perfect mezcal tour can significantly enhance your experience. Here are some key factors to consider to ensure you pick the right one for you:

The agave fields in Santiago Matatlán

Factors to Consider

  • Group Size: The size of the tour group can greatly affect your experience. Smaller groups often mean more personalized attention and a more intimate learning experience. Larger groups might be less personal but can be more social and lively. Think about what kind of atmosphere you’ll enjoy most.
  • Duration: Mezcal tours can vary in length. Some are brief, lasting just a few hours, while others might take up an entire day. Consider how much time you’re willing to dedicate to the tour. Longer tours often provide a more comprehensive experience, but shorter tours can be a great introduction to mezcal without taking up too much of your day.
  • Price: Your budget is an important factor. Prices can vary depending on the tour’s length, exclusivity, and what’s included (like food or transportation). Remember, the most expensive option isn’t always the best. Sometimes, smaller, more affordable tours offer incredibly authentic experiences.

Reading Reviews and Comparing Options

  • Researching Reviews: One of the best ways to gauge the quality of a mezcal tour is by reading reviews from past participants. Look for feedback on the tour guide’s knowledge, the variety of mezcal tastes, and the overall experience. Reviews can provide valuable insights that aren’t always apparent in tour descriptions.
  • Comparing Tours: Don’t settle for the first tour you find. Compare different options to see which one offers the best value and aligns with your interests. Look at what each tour includes – are you going to visit small, family-run distilleries, or larger, more commercial operations? Does the tour focus more on tasting or on the production process?
  • Check for Special Requests: If you have specific interests, like visiting a particular distillery or focusing on a certain type of mezcal, check if the tour can accommodate these requests.

Choosing the right mezcal tour in Oaxaca can turn a simple activity into a memorable adventure. Consider these factors, do your research, and get ready for an incredible journey into the world of mezcal.

Preparing for Your Mezcal Tour

Heading out on a mezcal tour in Oaxaca is an exciting experience, and a little preparation can make it even more enjoyable. Here’s what you should keep in mind to make the most of your adventure:

Essential Things to Bring

  • Stay Hydrated: Oaxaca can be warm, especially out in the agave fields, so bring plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Sun Protection: A hat and sunscreen are your best friends on these tours. They’ll protect you from the strong Mexican sun, allowing you to focus on the experience without any discomfort.
  • Comfortable Clothing: Opt for light, breathable clothes that will keep you comfortable as you explore the distilleries and fields.
  • Good Footwear: Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking, as you might be traversing uneven terrain in the agave fields.

Responsible Tasting Tips

  • Sip Slowly: Mezcal is meant to be savored, not rushed. Take small sips and let the flavors unfold in your mouth. This approach not only enhances your tasting experience but also respects the spirit’s potency.
  • Listen to Your Guide: Your guide will offer valuable insights on how to taste mezcal properly. Pay attention to their advice to deepen your understanding and appreciation of each variety.
  • Eat Well: Make sure you have a good meal before starting the tour. Tasting mezcal on an empty stomach can be overwhelming.
  • Pace Yourself: With so many varieties to try, it can be tempting to overindulge. Remember, the goal is to enjoy and learn, not to drink too much. If you feel like you’ve had enough, it’s okay to skip a tasting.

Preparing for your mezcal tour with these tips in mind will ensure you have a comfortable, enjoyable, and enriching experience. Get ready to explore the world of mezcal with all your senses!

Beyond the Tour: Exploring Mezcal in Oaxaca

After experiencing a mezcal tour, you might find yourself wanting to delve even deeper into the world of this fascinating spirit. Oaxaca City, with its vibrant mezcal culture, offers plenty of opportunities to continue your exploration.

Visiting Local Mezcal Bars

Oaxaca is home to some incredible mezcal bars, each offering a unique experience and an impressive selection of mezcals. Here are a few local favorites:

  • Mezcaloteca: This cozy spot is known for its educational approach to mezcal tasting. Here, knowledgeable staff guide you through the complexities of different mezcals.
  • In Situ Mezcaleria: This bar boasts an extensive collection of artisanal mezcals. It’s the perfect place to try some lesser-known, high-quality varieties.
  • La Mezcalerita: A lively bar with a fantastic rooftop view. They offer a wide range of mezcals, including some interesting house blends, and the atmosphere is always buzzing.
  • Mezcaleria Cuish: Known for its commitment to traditional mezcal producers, Cuish offers a unique range of mezcals sourced from small-scale distillers.

Mezcal Shopping in Oaxaca

Before leaving Oaxaca, consider taking a piece of your mezcal journey home with you. There are several shops where you can find a wide variety of mezcals, including:

  • Los Amantes Mezcalería: A boutique shop offering a selection of premium mezcals. The knowledgeable staff can help you choose the perfect bottle based on your preferences.
  • El Rey de Matatlán: This shop has a reputation for high-quality mezcals at reasonable prices. They offer a range of options, from joven to añejo.
  • La Casa del Mezcal: One of the oldest mezcal shops in Oaxaca, known for its authentic selection and friendly service.

Exploring Oaxaca’s mezcal bars and shops is more than just about tasting and buying; it’s about experiencing the culture and passion that surrounds this iconic Mexican spirit. Each sip tells a story of tradition, craftsmanship, and the vibrant spirit of Oaxaca.

There you have it – your guide to the best mezcal tours in Oaxaca. Whether you’re a mezcal enthusiast or a curious traveler, these tours offer an experience that is both educational and exhilarating. 

If you have any questions about any of these tours mentioned, drop them in a comment below! Happy exploring and happy tasting!

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