Pechuga, 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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“Pechuga” translates literally to breast, but it implies heart and soul as well. Pechuga mezcal is a spirit distilled for celebrations and gatherings, from weddings to funerals, from welcoming spring fertility to honoring the Day of the Dead.
To distill pechuga, there is a sacrificial component, driven by seasonal harvest. On a second or third distillation run, mezcaleros will incorporate fruits, spices and an animal protein, with recipes unique to local tradition; most commonly the protein will be fowl, the raw breast of a chicken or wild turkey.
El Jolgorio Pechuga is a benchmark example. Produced exclusively at the Casa Cortés palenque in Santiago Matatlán, the mezcal is distilled twice using copper pot stills, adding pineapples, limes, oranges, plantains, apples, pears and the raw breast of a guajolote – a creole turkey rooster of the region – to the second distillation.