Some of you might be wondering where the infamous mezcal worm comes into the picture. Many of you are also wondering if you're supposed to eat the worm in mezcal. There are many myths associated with tequila's older cousin, but we're ready to burn the worm myth and give you some clarity when it comes to the bottom of the bottle.
The use of the worm, or in Spanish "el gusano", is exclusive to Mezcal. What you actually have in your bottle is the larva that live and feed from the maguey plant, from which mezcal is made.The worms are well pickled and free of pesticides as the worms are often raised just for use in mezcal. The worm is harmless to consume and it is believed that actually eating the worm is beneficial to the spirit and locks in the robust flavor of mezcal. Go ahead, be a Worm Warrior.
Mezcal is a very small, artisanal business even to this day. Fine mezcals are still made by Oaxacan villagers in virtual backyard operations and it is common to taste the difference in mezcal from village to village. Coy marketing over the worm is small time compared to tequila's big company marketing budgets that helped send its sales soaring. Mezcal, with or without the worm, has nevetheless established itself as a premium spirit.