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Pechuga: What Is It & Why Does It Matter?

So, you’re getting interested in Pechuga–we hope that means you are getting deeper into the world of Mezcal! Or maybe you were googling a Mexican recipe that called for Pechuga… Either way, the team here at Mezcal Rosaluna has the inside scoop (or shot glass, as the case may be), so stay and learn about what Pechuga really is, where it comes from, and how it’s made.

No, Seriously—What Is Pechuga?

Most times, when we talk about Mezcal varieties, we’re talking about what type of agave was used. But Pechuga is breaking the mold.

Pechuga is a type of Mezcal that doesn’t require a specific type of agave. Instead, it’s all about how the Mezcal is distilled. Most Mezcals have just a couple of ingredients (water, agave, and love, in our case). Pechuga, on the other hand, has a special ingredient (and then some). Okay, we’ll stop being coy and tell you what Pechuga is all about.

What Is Pechuga?

Pechuga is the Spanish word for breast, so naturally—Pechuga Mezcal is a Mezcal distilled with the breast of a chicken or turkey (any kind of poultry, really). That said, the most well-known Pechuga is made with organic, farm-raised chicken. It isn’t uncommon for the distillation process to also include local spices, herbs, fruits, nuts, and other ingredients to create a super distinct, well-rounded flavor.

Pechuga tends to have a smokey, meaty aroma that’s followed by sweet characteristics in the palate, especially if fruits found their way into the mix.

While Pechuga has to include that poultry element, recipes depend on the families they come from. That means you’ll find some really unique Pechuga options out there if you look hard enough!

Where Is Pechuga From?

There are many stories about where and when mezcaleros started brewing Pechuga, but the stone cold truth is a little bit of a ~mystery~. Some say Pechuga has been made in Oaxaca since the 1940s, but it may date back even earlier to the 1800s and beyond.

While facts about Pechuga’s beginnings are fuzzy, the traditions held about it today are quite clear. Pechuga is a celebratory Mezcal made and drunk only for special holidays. Different mezcaleros might choose different holidays, but customarily Dia de Los Muertos, Christmas, and Easter feature this savory star.

Because of the special-occasion nature of pechuga, distillers usually choose a valuable chicken breast. Pechuga’s ritual and small count production give it a higher dollar value than typical Mezcals, so it’s definitely a treat yourself moment.

How Is Pechuga Made?

Pechuga Mezcal starts its process like any other Mezcal. The agave is harvested for the piña, roasted, fermented, and then put through two rounds of distillation. That’s where the similarities to other Mezcals stop.

What makes Pechuga different is the particular mix of additional ingredients (like fruits, herbs, nuts, and more) and, of course, the addition of chicken during a third distillation.

Recipes differ from family to family, and everyone has their own special recipe passed down through generations. That means there’s no one right way to make Pechuga, and we think it’s all the more cool for that.

Typically Pechuga is made with espadín agave (our absolute fave), but that’s not a given. The most common agaves used for Pechuga, after espadín, are tobaziche, arroqueño, tobalá and cuishe. Each will impart its own unique flavor to the spirit, so it’s worth trying out a few to see what you like most.

Why Chicken?

Well, sometimes chicken. During the distillation process, the animal breast is cooked by the steam created during the distillation. As it cooks, the aromas and drippings are infused into the Mezcal and add special flavor and mouthfeel. The juices make for a fuller texture, which is uncommon in most Mezcals.

As Pechuga has become more popular, Mezcaleros are experimenting with the kinds of meat they use, with everything from venison and rabbit to iguana meat. Adventurous eaters (and drinkers), you just may have met your match!

How Do You Drink Pechuga?

Pechuga, like all Mezcals, is best appreciated neat in a small, open-mouthed glass. That way, you can take it sip by sip and really get a feel for what you’re drinking.

Since Pechuga is such a special type of Mezcal, we recommend trying it by itself before pairing it with food or any mixers. After all, it’s worth sampling all that extra effort!

As for how the sipping is supposed to go, take it the way you would any other Mezcal: grip the glass, sniff, swirl, sip, breathe and repeat. Of course, you can drink your Pechuga any way you’d like—we won’t judge ;)

Is Mezcal Rosaluna a Type of Pechuga?

Nope! Mezcal Rosaluna comes from the espadín agave, just like Pechuga, but we’re not adding in any fancy extras. Our only ingredients are agave, water, and love.

Mezcal Rosaluna is totally vegan, so if you are into sipping on Mezcal but prefer to avoid animal products, don’t worry! You can definitely sip on us <3.

Don’t Chicken Out!

Maybe smoked meat isn’t news to you, but we can understand that adding chicken into an alcoholic beverage might be a bit out of your comfort zone. Well, if you know Mezcal Rosaluna, you know we love rules of three. We also like to say try everything not once, not twice, but thrice! That way, you know if you really like or really hate it.

Next time you’re at a Mezcal bar, impress yourself and the bartender by trying Pechuga. If you want to be a pro, grab some regular Mezcal as well, to sip in comparison. And if that doesn’t sound up your alley? You can just stick with Mezcal Rosaluna!


Mezcal de Pechuga Una Ofrenda Ancestral | Food and Wine Espanol

Mezcal de Pechuga, bebida en resguardo | Oaxaca

A Guide to Understanding Mezcal de Pechuga | Eater

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