Nuestra Soledad

$$ — 45% ABV — unaged

Single-village and vintage dated, it sounds as if the label was meant for some hip new wine brand, but this is mezcal: serious and unapologetic. El Jolgorio makes available the very limited works of a network of Zapotec distillers who still do things the old way: stone pit ovens and fire-wood smoke. While every mescalero is trying to spin a story of authenticity, Jolgorio is running on donkey-powered tahona wheels to crush their piñas. Beat that.

Making such a wide variety of vintage mezcals, it's hard to say definitively what you'll be getting in a bottle of Nuestra Soledad. But if only because they're one of the very few brands that bottle their products not just above 40%, but sometimes in excess of 46%, you should be willing to roll the dice. Don't like sipping it? Suck it up and make punch. Everything's great.

The San Luis del Rio is their wider release, which tastes just like that perfect autumn treat: roasted pumpkin seeds. There's a high salinity, a fair amount of mesquite smoke, some rolling spice, and a sweetness much closer to stewed root vegetables than that nectar flavor in quality tequila. San Luis del Rio is the carrot cake of spirits.

The whole Nuestra Soledad is made entirely from espadin agaves, which are similar to tequilañas in the sense that they're domesticated and grow to be quite big. That keeps the price rather low, considering the limited quantity and hard labor that goes into each bottle. To go fully off the reservation, you'll have to hunt down a bottle of the original el Jolgorio line, some of which are made from wild agaves. They're quite tiny and also slow-going, so it might be the most you'll ever spend on a bottle of mezcal. 

El Jolgorio is located in Santiago Matalán, Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Established by Valentín Cortéz, it remains an independent producer.

Flavor Notes

licorice, pumpkin seed, table salt, carrots, mesquite, dried chili