Barril, Mezcal, El Jolgorio
Traditional mezcal forms an important part of rituals, ceremonies and festivities—known as “jolgorios”—in the rural and indigenous Zapotec villages of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Created by the Cortés family, El Jolgorio is widely acknowledged as one of the finest collections of agave spirits available. The ever-changing lineup of mezcales represent the most rare expressions the family bottles: wild, semi-wild and cultivated agaves, rare pechuga distillations, and small batches rested in glass for three, six, or as much as eighteen years before release.
From batch to batch, an individual variety of agave will generally be sourced from different mezcaleros, in different regions, reducing the pressure put upon any one community’s agave population and spreading the financial benefits among families all over Oaxaca – but the unmatched quality of El Jolgorio mezcales remains the same.
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Barril is a subvarietal of the Agave karwinskii species of agave, which grow wild in certain parts of Oaxaca, representing less than 1% of the agave currently growing in the state.
Unlike most agave, whose leaves (or “pencas”) grow outwards from a central heart or core which remains close to the ground, Agave karwinskii develop as a long vertical stem or trunk, with the sugar concentrated near the top where the pencas remain green and spiky. Agave karwinskii more closely resemble a palm to many observers than what is typically identified as agave. Their height and intimidating spikes have led some indigenous communities to use them as a natural fence.
In addition, the entire trunk is typically fermented and distilled when producing mezcal, resulting in a spirit much higher in vegetal and fibrous aromatic & flavor profiles. There are many subvarietals of Agave karwinskii (Cuishe, Madrecuishe, Tobaziche, Largo); Barril is unique, and identified for its short, squat appearance – visually similar to a pincushion, or a spiky round barrel (ahem).