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Jolgorios are local festivals that take place in remote mountain villages throughout Oaxaca. El Jolgorio translates to “the revelry”, and the festivals often celebrate births, deaths, weddings, and Saint’s days. For centuries, mezcal has played an important role in these festivities, and in 2010 the Cortés family began establishing a group of Oaxaca’s top mezcal producers. Called El Jolgorio, this collective now represents sixteen individual families from ten different regions of Oaxaca. Each bottle is hand-marked with the details of each batch to connect the drinker to the family who produced it. Certain varieties of agave are so limited that they can only be made once a year at most, so in 2017, El Jolgorio began packaging these rare releases in special black bottles. Todos Santos (All Saints) is a three-day celebration of departed family members, friends, and loved ones. Altars are built for the visiting spirits, and include favorite foods, special objects, and often a glass of mezcal. With Todos Santos festivities cancelled because of the pandemic, Casa Cortés has released two special bottles in 2020 to pay tribute to Crispina Hernandez Romero, mother of Rolando Cortés, and a maestra mezcalera in her own right. In the words of Rolando, “My mother taught me the meaning of Dixeebe, a Zapotec word that embodies gratitude, love and thankfulness in a way that is difficult to explain. When we toast mezcal with our friends and family, we say Dixeebe to show them we are thankful to be with them. It was a tradition that was very important to my mother. These Todo Santos mezcales symbolize the most important connection between life and death, between today and tomorrow, between two hearts and between families. They are an opportunity for us to pay tribute to my mother and toast with her when she is here from the spirit world.”
Tobasiche is a member of the Agave karwinskii species of agave. While the leaves (known as "pencas") of most agave grow outwards from a central core close to the ground, Agave karwinskii grows as a long vertical stem, with the sugar concentrated near the top. Tobasiche towers above its more petite siblings, and is prized for its great concentration of sugar, which makes it ideal for a higher proof distillation.