Mezcal is made primarily in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, typically from Agave Espadin. Although laws require tequila to be made with blue agave, more than 30 different varieties of agave can be used to make mezcal. The process used to make artisanal mezcal differentiates it from tequila. Whereas tequila fermentation starts in tanks that would feel similar to those used for many other spirits, artisanal mezcal starts by cooking the fruit of the plant, called “piñas,” in a large, cone-shaped, underground, earthen pit lined with volcanic stones. A wood fire is built at the bottom of the pit until it turns to embers and the stones are very hot. The piñas are then piled in to fill the pit and covered with about a foot of dirt. The process cooks, caramelizes and smokes the piñas, giving mezcal its distinctive smoky flavor.