Some years ago when whisky was going through another massive price hike I decided it was time to broaden my horizon, and after some dabbling in jenever and rum I ended up with a bottle of mezcal. I found this spirit hugely interesting and orthogonal to whisky.
Apart from some smoky flavors there are virtually no similarities, especially when going for the joven (unaged) where there are no wood influences yet.
So, I bought a few bottles that I shared (reviews here) and when I got a sizable promotion at the end of 2015 I bought these five bottles. Of course, right when that happened, I also lost interest. As in, I tried them all, and started to realize that the flavors, however different to those of whisky, are not as varied. And, again personally, less to my liking than those of whisky.
This resulted in these bottles not doing much apart from gathering dust. Until recently, because of corona. Corona sounds Mexican.
Well, of course that’s not it. What IS it, is that I spent quite some time in my den, playing Magic the Gathering with a webcam and some friends. While sitting there I wanted a drink that I had open, and wasn’t near its end, so I didn’t have to write notes as well as keep track of about a hundred variables in a game.
These bottles caught my eye and then they went rather quickly. In part because it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re drinking when you’re mainly doing something else, and in part because I found it quite tasty again. Different, so to say.
But, last Friday I decided to spend the afternoon going through the tail ends of the bottles. Kid one was playing at a friend’s house, kid two was also out, and kid three was napping. A moment of PornHub-free me-time!
Mezcal El Jolgorio, Cuixe, 46.4% (2014)
Mezcal Joven, Cuixe Silvestre, Karwinskii, 13yo
Producer: Gregorio Mtz. Jarquin, Santiago Matatlán
Pretty thick and heavy on the nose, with a bit of diesel-y smoke. Smoked agave, obviously, with lemon balm, dirt. A slight sharpness of new make spirit.
The palate is rather intense too, with some peppery heat. As on the nose, it’s much heavier and more oily than a white spirit makes you expect. It’s smoky, and rich with agave, cactus and diesel.
The finish is a bit more crisp. Still with agave, and those kind of ‘succulents’. There’s a herbal touch to it that wasn’t there before. Also, a smoked lemon peels and a hint of lime show up.
Pretty decent stuff, this. It’s not ridiculously complex, but there’s nothing to complain about. I think it’s good I started with this one, since I think this is the most typical of the bunch.
Mezcal El Jolgorio, Mexicano, 47% (2012)
Mezcal Joven, Mexicano Silvestre, Rodacantha, 10yo
Producer: Valentín Cortes, Santiago Matatlán
Far more green than the Cuixe, with more plant like scents. More cactus, agave, lime, almost to a level that it smells like washing up liquid. A very slight smokiness.
The palate loses much of that greenness, and goes to the mushy, pulpy stuff that is needed for fermentation. Somehow it reminds me of rhubarb. It’s quite warming, but also a tad flat in regards to the flavor.
The finish opens up a bit more, with more of these lime and cactus notes that I also got on the nose. The lingering alcohol tingles like carbonated water.
This one is a bit flat. There’s just not much happening on both the nose and the palate. The flavors that are there are the ones you encounter in most mezcal anyway, so it doesn’t stand out.
Mezcal El Jolgorio, Madrecuixe, 47%
Mezcal Joven, Madrecuixe Silvestre, Karwinskii, 14yo
Producer: Ignacio Parada, Santa Maria Zoquitlan
This is very crisp, with lots of herbal and citrus notes. A whiff of smoke again, but mostly lemon, orange, lime. The more typical agave notes come a tad later, with a second sniff.
The palate, again, is slightly less crisp than the nose, but the difference isn’t as big. There’s some peppery heat added. The lemon and orange notes continue, and get a little bit sweeter.
The finish is slightly dry, with a whiff of alcohol, agave and more citrus and herbal notes. Leafy greens, with copper.
This one is rather similar to the first one, with a bit more focus on the citric flavors, and the herbaceousness of it. A tad more summery and light, because of it.
Mezcal El Jolgorio, Barril, 47%
Mezcal Joven, Barril Silvestre, Karwinskii, 13yo
Producent: Gregorio y Gonzalo Hdz., San Miguel Ejutla
Quite grainy on the nose, almost like a whisky new make. Heavy in the smokiness, with hints of wood, barley, rye.
The palate carries on in the same vein, but the agave is a bit more pronounced here. Slightly more green, but not unlike whisky spirit, still. The texture is rather oily, compared to the others, with a different heat than in the others too. More like alcohol instead of peppers.
The finish is spicy, with hints of dark bread, rye, grilled peppers and agave. Very dark, maybe even some cocoa.
This I find very interesting. As said, there are some whisky like qualities, which make this slightly less unique, less different. However, (if my info is correct) this wild agave is something quite interesting. Pretty dark stuff.
Pechuga El Jolgorio, Espadin, 47%
Mezcal Joven, Espadin Silvestre, 10yo
Producent: Gregorio Hernandez, Ignacio Parada, Valentin Cortes, Santa Maria Zoquitlan and Santiago Matatlan
It might be suggestive, but it does seem to be a bit more meaty. Of course, there’s much more than just chicken in the basket that is put in the still, if my info is correct, so that might just be that: suggestive.
Meaty, dry and rather intense. There’s a lot going on, with slight bitter notes like twigs, but also the green notes of agave, cactus, moss even.
The palate is a tad fatty, with hints of bitterness and peppery heat. There’s some meaty weight to it too. Rich, but in a different way than before. Bitter oranges, some other tropical fruits too, maybe even passion fruit. Also some suggestion of splintered wood.
The finish is a bit more green than the palate was, and finds more connection with the nose than the mouthfeel. It’s warming, with hints of meat, fruit and a whiff of steamed vegetables. Green notes of agave too.
Then the most unique of the bunch, at least in it’s recipe. I don’t think I got much of the effects of the turkey used in distillation, which I found a bit of a downer. Apart from that, the palate is quite interesting in other flavors. Good stuff!
Concluding, I find it a bit more interesting than I thought the last couple of years, but it still is not whisky. What also doesn’t help is that this stuff is made in such small batches and in such an artisanal way, it’s ridiculously expensive.
The Pechuga sits at € 110 in a discount, and the others clocked in around eighty euros each. While it’s nice to have a bottle around, I find it way too expensive for much more exploration.
I can imagine getting another bottle of the Barril, or the Madrecuixe, though.