Today we’re rounding out the product line of JAJA Tequila. We started with the youngest version (their blanco straight off the still), checked in with their middle aged reposado, and now we’re finishing with their anejo tequila. In theory, this version should marry together the bright and bold herbal flavors of a tequila with the rich and delicious oak barrel aging components — but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
Elliot Tebele founded a now-famous Instagram account in 2011, the name of which is not quite appropriate for mixed audiences (it starts with a four-letter F-word). He built a following of millions, but acknowledged in 2019 that some of the content he was posting was stolen from other people without crediting them. That popular Instagram account also launched a media company named Jerry Media, which was involved in 2017 with the notoriously fraudulent Fyre Festival.
The following year, Tebele along with his brother Maurice and childhood friend Martin Hoffstein followed in the footsteps of other celebrities and decided to produce his own tequila. Normally, this is where most celebrities put at least some effort into creating a compelling backstory for their spirits (see: Casamigos) or discuss some novel and amazing production process that is used (like Dan Aykroyd’s ridiculous diamond filtration process for his vodka). But for this tequila, the story they went with was literally “we wandered around Mexico until we found a distillery”.
One summer not long ago, three friends traveled to Jalisco, Mexico, looking for the best tequila in the world. They wandered the hills and the mountains until they discovered a distillery that embraced traditional processes and eco-friendly production.https://jajatequila.com/
Called “JAJA” (pronounced “haha”), the name is an allusion to the comedy Instagram account where he gained his fame.
When we first tried out this tequila in March of 2021 that was the extent of the story but since then, there have been some encouraging developments at JAJA.
In October 2021 they announced a partnership with Proximo Spirits, a manufacturing and distribution company that makes some notable and delicious tequila and legitimately the best applejack brandy I’ve ever had. Not only did that partnership improve their distribution capabilities, but it also opened up access to Proximo’s tequila distilleries and their prodigious expertise. Maurice and Elliot worked with Proximo to create a new recipe for their tequila, tasting the product along the way and working to ensure that this new version was a true representation of their taste and preferences.
They also have expanded their vision for the brand, moving from solely being about producing a tequila to also wanting to be a larger lifestyle brand by expanding to include a line of apparel and packaged game night experiences.
- Learn More: What Is Tequila?
This spirit is produced at the La Rojeña Distillery (NOM 1122) in Mexico by Proximo Spirits as part of their partnership with JAJA Tequila. This same distillery also makes certain varieties of 1800, Jose Cuervo, and Maestro, and uses pretty much the same process to create JAJA.
The spirit starts as a crop of 100% blue agave plants. Those plants are shaved of their leaves so that only the central pit remains, and then placed into large traditional brick ovens to cook for about three days to convert the plant matter into fermentable sugar. That sugary material is then extracted from the cores and mixed with water and yeast to ferment into a mildly alcoholic liquid.
That slurry of liquid is then batch distilled three times in copper pot stills to create the new tequila. For this anejo version of the tequila, the spirit is rested in oak barrels for over 12 months prior to bottling.
In all my previous JAJA reviews, I’ve stated this is a boring bottle and I continue to stand by that.
The glass itself is shaped like a very common glass whiskey bottle, with the only remarkable aspect being that there’s a small note embossed into the lower portion of the bottle talking about how “JAJA” is actually pronounced “haha”. The bottle is capped off with a wood and cork stopper. I don’t hate it (and actually enjoy the embossed part) but there’s nothing new going on here otherwise.
The label is really what sells this tequila. JAJA says that they are looking to create a lifestyle brand, and the artwork on the label is their thesis statement for what that lifestyle looks like. It evokes a very bright, fun vibe that feels a little trendy (but spot on for their intended audience).
While the label might be visually appealing, there’s still no connection to the product beyond pairing nicely with the lifestyle that it’s trying to fit into. Labels often tell a story about the product, or the people behind it, but this doesn’t do either. It’s just a painted backdrop, and while it’s bright and fun, it’s ultimately not telling us anything.
I do appreciate that for the different versions of their tequila, there’s a slightly different color scheme and image on the label. This one has more pink compared to the blanco edition, as well as more darker blues compared to the reposado.
While this might be a darker colored spirit compared to the rest of their line, it doesn’t quite reach the same hue that you’d expect from an American bourbon. It does have some of the same aromas, though: brown sugar, vanilla, and caramel are the first notes I get, along with a touch of herbal agave and black pepper spice adding a dash of character as supporting players.
While the aromas are good, the actual flavor is a bit disappointingly flat. It seems like the maturation process has sapped some of the power out of the raw tequila flavors, specifically the herbal agave and black pepper, such that I’m really only getting them way in the background and on the finish. What’s front and center instead is the brown sugar, caramel, and a touch of vanilla that usually comes from oak cask maturation. There is a bit of cheeky lemon citrus that works its way in about halfway through the experience and adds some interesting notes to the flavor, though.
I will say that this is a smoother and more enjoyable version of their tequila. There’s no roughness or bitterness to be found, and this is probably the best version they make for sipping neat — but there also aren’t a whole lot of well saturated tequila components coming through, either.
Much like it’s younger siblings in the blanco and reposado versions, that this is a bit better on the rocks compared to taken neat. When I had this all on its own, it was smooth but there wasn’t much complexity to the flavor; with the added ice, the maturation flavors are toned down enough that the raw components in the tequila are starting to shine through.
This honestly tastes like their reposado taken neat, only without the unfortunate touch of bitterness.
Instead of the brown sugar and vanilla taking over the flavor profile, it only acts as a short overture before the herbal agave flavors kick in alongside a bit of black pepper spice. That’s a winning combination, and the addition of some lemon citrus as the flavor develops only adds to the bright complexity of the drink.
That said, I’d like to see a bit of a darker and richer profile from an anejo, which still isn’t what I’m getting here. There isn’t enough saturation in those barrel aging flavors to really hit a home run on that front. But it ain’t half bad.
This makes for a fantastic margarita. There’s plenty of herbal agave, black pepper spice, and lemon citrus in the flavor profile to make the anejo known against the heavy hitters of mixers being used. And with the addition of the brown sugar and vanilla aspects, it all blends together to be a well balanced and interesting cocktail.
Where this falls a bit flat, I think, is when judged against other anejo tequilas. It’s good, but other brands go a bit darker and deeper — almost resulting in something closer to an old fashioned in terms of the richness of the flavors. I’m not getting that same depth here, but I am still getting a tasty drink.
I can see a lot of promise in this tequila. I like how the flavors of the tequila are still coming through in the margarita and even on the rocks, which isn’t something you always see in an anejo. But I don’t get some of those richer and darker flavors either, which is a bit of a problem.
I feel like this is just a spirit that needs a little bit more time in the barrel. It’s probably a good candidate for some experiments with home aging (buying a bottle and sticking it in an oak barrel on your shelf). But as-is, the lackluster flavors when taken neat and the lack of depth to the barrel aging aspects just left me wanting more.
|JAJA Anejo Tequila|
Produced By: JAJAProduction Location: Jalisco, Mexico
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $46.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 3/5
A good anejo that will work well in a margarita, but might be a little lackluster if you’re looking for robust oak aging flavors.