Have you ever imagined something you read in your head, only to finally see it get animated or get a film adaptation, and it delivers? Rare are those moments.
This can be likened to reading the tasting notes on a bottle, or hearing about the hype surrounding a new limited expression. Marketing does the job of making consumers salivate at the idea of acquiring a new release, but most of what’s available in the market fails to deliver. That’s for me, at least (I’m looking at you yearly special edition releases).
However, occasionally something tastes extra good because you’re trying something new and unusual for the first time. Sometimes, once you get used to it, the allure starts to fade. Then there are those once-in-a blue moon moments when every sip is like grasping the heavens.
This rare opportunity to taste the drops of gods came when I bought a bottle of El Jolgorio’s Jabali. I bought a bottle from Legacy Liquors in Vancouver for around CAS $300. Despite the high esteem some industry people place it in, the brand doesn’t seem to be popular because of the low volumes they produce. I only learned of it through a well-known bartender/consultant acquaintance.
According to Mezcal Reviews, El Jolgorio means “the revelry.” Jolgorios are small festivals that celebrate births, deaths, weddings, religious days in the remote mountain villages of Oaxaca. Which isn’t surprising, as mezcal has always been used as a festive drink in that area. In 2010, the Cortes family began a collective of top mezcal distillers in Oaxaca. As of 2019, the brand represents 16 different families from 10 different regions of the state.
I was told initially, the brand used clear bottles. But in 2017, the team started using black bottles for rare editions that would only come from certain limited varieties of agave. The artworks for the bottle labels were done by Alejandro Peña and Asis Cortes.
Another thing that piques my interest is the number of bottles produced. While a lot of mezcal brands have similar back labels that mention data like date of harvest, batch/edition number, distiller, and number of bottles, the number of bottles produced for this batch is way less than all other brands I’ve seen. The others I’ve seen number in the thousands of bottles per batch/edition. This batch is just made up of 250 bottles. Safe to say that this is truly a small batch release without the brand having to claim so.
In case you’re not familiar with the Jabali agave variety, that’s because mezcal distillers find it hard to work with. So, not a lot of mezcal distillers like to work with it. For one, it’s said to give a low yield. 100 pounds of agave is said to produce only one bottle of mezcal. Another reason is it foams up and expands during fermentation and distillation. This can lead to equipment getting damaged if the distiller isn’t careful or experienced. It also takes about 25 years for the agave to fully mature.
El Jolgorio Jabali Mezcal – Review
53% ABV. Edition 5. Bottle # 239/250. CAD $300+.
Color: Liquid diamond.
On the nose: I get a bold, sharp, peppery, long, and cohesive aroma of light smoke, nuts, agave, caramel, grass, and lemongrass. A bit of rubber comes out. Then a layer of orange and lime peels come out. At the end is a light grass note that makes me think of hay and yellow bell peppers. Then these just go on repeat.
In the mouth: Like on the nose, I get sharp, peppery, long and cohesive notes. But at some points, there’s also a velvet texture. I taste bold flavors of nuts, caramel, and agave. In-between are tastes of oranges and caramelized orange peel, pineapple syrup, pineapple candy and green bell peppers. Similar to the nose, these notes also go on repeat.
This is the best mezcal I’ve had so far. It’s got everything. From long, cohesive and layered flavors to a sharp enough but also velvety texture. Because of these, I’m very tempted to give this a 10. But because I haven’t had as much mezcal yet when compared to how much rum and whisk(e)y I’ve had, I hesitate to give the 10.
To add to this being the best mezcal I’ve had, this is way better than most brown spirits I’ve had. To say that this is amazing is an understatement. I let a few people try this on the night I opened it and we were all grinning after the first sip. It’s a rare occasion when attendees of a tasting all agree on one bottle being the best for the night. This mezcal is so transcendent that it gave me a tumescent glow.
Drinking this bottle alone instantly made me a fan of this brand. On that same night of sharing this bottle, I was also able to try an older release from them. It wasn’t as good as this. It was also made from a different agave variety. But at least I know the quality is consistent. If you’re a mezcal geek, give El Jolgorio a chance. You won’t regret it. I want more expressions from them.