When we first tried JAJA Tequila back in 2021, we checked out their blanco version and stopped there. But since their new partnership with Proximo Spirits, things are looking up in terms of the quality and flavors of their spirits and we wanted to give their other versions a fair shot. So today, we’re looking at the next rung on their tequila ladder: the JAJA Reposado.
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 reposado version of the tequila, the spirit is rested in oak barrels for between 2 and 12 months prior to bottling.
I said in my first review that this is an incredibly boring bottle, and I’m not sure I’d retract that statement. It looks good, but there’s no substance to it.
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”. That part is fun, but otherwise there’s nothing creative or new going on here. The bottle is capped off with a wood and cork stopper.
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 cool, fun vibe — and would definitely appeal to all the trendy 20-somethings (author’s note: I do not identify as such, I am much more old 30-something nerd).
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 is more pink and coral compared to the blanco edition, which pairs well with the color of the tequila inside.
This reposado version of JAJA tequila has a nice light brown / golden color, which is on point for a reposado with that tiny bit of barrel aging. And the aromas coming off of the glass are delicious and well balanced: I’m getting a lot of herbal agave, some lemon citrus, a touch of black pepper spice, a hint of brown sugar, and a creamy vanilla caramel wrapping all of those components together.
Compared to the blanco version, the flavors are significantly toned down and more enjoyable in this version neat. Up front, I’m getting some herbal agave, brown sugar, and some of that black pepper spice all mixing together and playing nicely. As the flavor develops, there’s still a touch of bitterness present that I called in the blanco version as the combination of the lemon citrus and black pepper — but while it is still present in this reposado, it does seems to have been significantly toned down.
Ice really does help the flavor profile, much like we saw in the blanco. Taken neat, this was close to being a legitimately good sippable tequila, and ice takes it over the edge (in a good way).
What the ice does in this instance is tone down that bitterness near the finish of the flavor profile. That one defect was annoying me a bit, but with the added ice things are significantly better. The bitterness is gone, and what’s left is this nice and enjoyable mixture of herbal agave, black pepper spice, and brown sugar.
The flavors aren’t exactly the most well saturated I’ve ever had, but they are present and enjoyable. I feel like the added ice is toning them down a touch, but it’s not too dramatic and it’s an even cut across the board. No specific flavor is impacted more than the others.
I really like an aged tequila in my margarita. I feel like it brings a bit more sweetness and richer tones to the party and just makes the whole experience better. And in this case, I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds: a good hit of the herbaceousness that you’d see in a blanco as well as some of the richness and brown sugar that you’d see in an aged tequila.
All of the flavors are clearly identifiable without being overpowering, and the bitterness is practically eliminated. It’s a great version of a margarita.
Typically, I feel like a reposado tequila is the sweet spot on the spectrum of tequilas for a good cocktail tequila. There are still plenty of bold and brash distillation flavors (like herbal agave and black pepper), but you also see them mellowed out a bit and assisted by some brown sugar and vanilla from the oak barrels. It’s a win-win.
And I think JAJA Reposado is a good example of exactly that concept. All of the flavors are there, and generally in the right proportions to make a deliciously rich margarita. It still has its rough edges, though — I don’t think this is a sipping tequila just yet, but it is getting close.
Reviewing it in comparison to other spirits of the same type we’ve tried before, I feel like this is a better reposado than the Casa Noble we’ve previously reviewed, but I think Teremana edges it out thanks to the lack of roughness or bitterness when taken neat. Nevertheless, it’s still a solid reposado — and decently priced, as well.
|JAJA Reposado Tequila|
Produced By: JAJAProduction Location: Jalisco, Mexico
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $39.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 3/5
All the herbal and bright flavors of a blanco with some of the brown sugar and depth that comes with barrel aging. I just wouldn’t recommend trying it neat.