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Montelobos Mezcal Joven

Review: Montelobos Mezcal Joven (90/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Refreshed On February 20, 2020

Montelobos Mezcal Joven is an artisanal mezcal made in Santiago Matatlán Oaxaca. The spirit is crafted by Montelobos agave expert Iván Saldaña according to his vision and passion for agave and with respect for traditional production methods. Montelobos which means mountain of wolves is an unaged mezcal produced from 100 % organic Highland Espadin agave (sourced in Santiago Matalán Oaxaca).

Montelobos Mezcal Joven is described upon the label as an Artesanel Mezcal which means that it must adhere to the following production techniques:

Cooking: Agave piñas must be cooked in underground pits or above ground masonry ovens.

Milling: Wooden mallet, tahona, Chilean/Egyptian mill, cane press, or chipper.

Fermentation: Fermentation can be performed in rock pits, in-ground pits, tree trunks, clay urns, wooden vats, or animal hide. The fermentation may include agave fibers.

Distillation: Distillation must be fueled by direct fire beneath a boiler of either copper or clay. The head or “hat” of the still may be made of clay, wood, copper, or stainless steel.

This separates the Montelobos from ordinary Mezcal which is not subject to the same stringent standards which I have summarized here (Mezcal Explained).

In the case of the Montelobos Joven spirit, The Espidin agave is prepared in a traditional manner which includes fire pit roasting for 5 to 7 days, followed by crushing the roasted agave with a mule drawn stone tohona wheel. After this the released juice is allowed to ferment naturally, and then is distilled in small wood fire copper pot stills.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

As for the bottle presentation, I am very satisfied. Montelobos Mezcal Joven arrives in the masculine rectangular decanter shown to the left. This is a heavy glass bottle with a smokey black and green hue.

The heavy glass bottle looks imposing on the shelf next to my other bottles of Mezcal and by appearance alone, I am drawn to this brand over the others. I especially like the large synthetic cork stopper which adds to the presence of the spirit on my new Mezcal Shelf.

In the Glass 9/10

Joven in English means young. In this case the Montelobos Mescal Joven spirit is unaged. As such it is a clear spirit. Nonetheless it does appear to have an ever so light oily consistency as evidenced by small bubbles which are reluctant to disappear after I pour a small amount into my glencairn, and stubborn small leglets which formed after I tilt and twirl the glass.

The ‘highland’ agave characteristic is apparent when I nose the glass as I notice similar zesty citrus and light peppery notes which we commonly associate with Highland tequila. The peppery notes remind me of cilantro and they are mild enough that I easily notice the earthy agave which lies underneath. Grilled pineapple, and light notes of savory baked squash with hints lemon and rosemary seem to be implied. I find this quite engaging and I am eager to begin tasting.

In The Mouth 54.5/60

The Mezcal carries a very nice light agave sweetness at the forefront of the delivery. There are light flavours of citrus zest, white pepper and cilantro laying beside earthy flavours of agave and baked squash. I seem to taste a hint of minerality as well as an underlying smokiness which is very lightly salty (brine-like) and carries hints of earthy peat. Lemon citrus and tropical pineapple seem to be present as is an ever so light grassiness which hints at mint and heather. This is not what I was expecting, but the flavours work extremely well.

I suspect much of the North American Market (particularly the Canadian portion) will be inclined to mix cocktails rather than to sip so I mixed a few tequila-like cocktails. I began with what would be a Picador (if it was made with tequila). The result was wonderful. Encouraged I experimented with lemon and pineapple juice, and using blue Curacao rather than triple sec. Again I was very happy and you can find both recipes below.

In the Throat 13/15

The exit is light and refreshing and relatively smooth. Citrus flavours combine with smokey agave and a cilantro-like spiciness which tickles gently at the throat after the swallow. The combination of flavours is complimented by a light mint-like impression which seems to bind everything together.

The Afterburn 9/10

Montelobos Mezcal Joven is a wonderful maguey spirit. It has a light but appealing smoky quality which is typical of mezcal, but this smokiness is kept in check allowing us to enjoy the underlying fruity flavour of the Espadin agave. This is a spirit which can be sipped easily or enjoyed in your favourite tequila style cocktails.

You may read some of my other Tequila and Mezcal Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipes

Montelobos Picador

2 oz Montelobos Mezcal Joven
1 oz Bols Triple Sec
1 oz fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
Lemon Slice (optional)

Add the three ingredients to your metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Double strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a slice of lemon (optional)

Enjoy Responsibly!


Here is a colourful turquoise cocktail that mixes Mezcal and Blue Curaçao with a little pineapple and lime resulting in a refined ‘Martini Style’ maguey cocktail. The name of the cocktail is an homage to my favourite Red Rider albums from the early 1980s.

As Far as Cyan

2 oz. Montelobos Mezcal
1/2 oz​. Bols Blue Curaçao
1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
1/2 ounce​ Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Agave Syrup
1​ twist of Lemon Peel

Add the first five ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a chilled martini glass
Garnish with a strip of Lemon peel

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing Tequila.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, (we are probably still cocktail in territory).
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing delicious cocktails!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


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