From Whisky to Olive Oil, Bozelli Boss Highlights the Value of Skillful Blending

The Turkish producer and World Competition winner believes masterful extra virgin olive oil blends exceed the sum of their parts.

Mustafa Birhan Hazer and his wife, Esra
By Paolo DeAndreis
May. 22, 2023 22:42 UTC
Mustafa Birhan Hazer and his wife, Esra

My inspi­ra­tion came from the whisky indus­try, which I was part of after 2001,” Bozelli founder Mustafa Birhan Hazer told Olive Oil Times.

I know that sin­gle malts are excel­lent. But, while they are great on their own, when a mas­ter blends them, you can achieve such a com­plex and rich blend greater than the sum of its parts,” he said. Of course, it is an art; you need tal­ent.”

We believe that this is the begin­ning of a new era, and we are happy to be at the fore­front of that jour­ney.- Mustafa Birhan Hazer, founder, Bozelli

The pur­suit of highly cus­tomiz­able extra vir­gin olive oil blends has led the award-win­ning pro­ducer to plant select olive vari­eties since it started oper­a­tions in 2010.

The choice of vari­eties gives us absolute unique­ness in our blends and sin­gle malts,’ if I may call them that,” Hazer said. We cus­tom-design blends for our busi­ness part­ners as well, to busi­ness own­ers who pre­fer a world-class olive oil which is unique to them.”

See Also:Producer Profiles

Bozelli also cul­ti­vates the most pop­u­lar local vari­eties, includ­ing Domat, Edremit and Gemlik, along with Arbequina, Arbosana, Koroneiki and Picual.

Two hybrid vari­eties – Skitita, a Picual and Arbequina hybrid, and Lecciana, a Leccino and Arbosana hybrid – were planted later. Both are highly adapt­able and were orig­i­nally devel­oped for super-high-den­sity (super-inten­sive) olive grow­ing.

All of these cul­ti­vars cover a wide range of choices for us,” Hazer said. Some pro­duce del­i­cate extra vir­gin olive oil, while oth­ers are more robust. Some of them are more flo­ral. Some are well known for their high polyphe­nol con­tent.”

Today, Bozelli man­ages around 21,000 olive trees cul­ti­vated on more than 40 hectares. Hazer said the key to the company’s olive blend­ing suc­cess is his wife, Esra.


Bozelli’s olive groves in Turkey’s Aegean region

My wife received train­ing in Turkey and Italy to mas­ter tast­ing and blend­ing,” he said. She is the nose and the mas­ter blender of our olive oils.”

While the Bozelli brand was estab­lished in 2010, the com­pany has older roots; Hazer’s grand­fa­ther began grow­ing and milling olives in the first half of the 20th cen­tury.

He was a tal­ented mechanic and built many olive mills in the young Turkish repub­lic back then,” said Hazer, adding that his grand­fa­ther heav­ily influ­enced him and the com­pany.

My grand­fa­ther used to say that the olive tree loves the wind, sun, stone and steep hills,” said Hazer, whose groves are 500 to 600 meters above sea level. We chose an inland area of the Aegean Region. I chose a higher alti­tude because ingre­di­ents for spir­its tend to taste bet­ter when sub­jected to con­trolled cli­matic stress.”

The olive groves are located on the out­skirts of Bozburun, a vil­lage in Manisa province known for its hills and winds. It gets 300 days of sun­shine each year on aver­age, and the soil is sandy with many stones,” Hazer said. The ele­va­tion helps us with daily tem­per­a­ture fluc­tu­a­tions and man­aged water stress from our irri­ga­tion.”

All Bozelli olive trees are irri­gated fol­low­ing a spe­cific pro­to­col. We try to opti­mize quan­tity and qual­ity by apply­ing deficit irri­ga­tion tech­niques after pit for­ma­tion until pulp’s build-up stage begins, some­time in August,” Hazer said.

As the sea­son approaches its end, and depend­ing on tem­per­a­tures, irri­ga­tion com­pletely halts at least two weeks before har­vest.

Bozelli is also devel­op­ing fer­ti­ga­tion tech­niques in which nutri­ents nec­es­sary for the olive trees are dis­solved into the water. Hazer said deter­min­ing the cor­rect dosage and best time to fer­ti­gate are his main chal­lenges.


We are exper­i­ment­ing and improv­ing every year,” he added. It is doing won­ders for our extra vir­gin olive oils.”

One of the two Gold Awards won at the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition was for Bozelli’s Picual mono­va­ri­etal. The Spanish olive is grown at all lat­i­tudes and is respon­si­ble for a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of global olive oil pro­duc­tion. Bozelli’s Koroneiki mono­va­ri­etal earned the other Gold Award.


Mustafa Birhan Hazer and Esra celebrated two Gold Awards at the 2023 NYIOOC.

I found just one sam­ple of Picual in 2012, we pop­u­lated it, and now we pro­duce the only Picual olive oil in the whole of Turkey,” Hazer said. Given its sta­tus as one of the world’s most awarded vari­eties, it was our inter­est to intro­duce it to Turkey right from the start.”

It is a bal­anced, robust extra vir­gin olive oil with a long fin­ish,” he added. It expresses notes of peach first and then apri­cot, tomato and black pep­per in the back­ground.”

The Gold Awards came after a chal­leng­ing sea­son for the Turkish pro­ducer. It was a tough sea­son,” Hazer con­firmed.

Every sea­son comes with a new story, dri­ven by cli­mate change,” he added. In March 2022, in the sec­ond half of the month, after the trees woke up’ for spring, our area was sub­ject to tem­per­a­tures around ‑5°C or ‑7°C every night. It was near freez­ing dur­ing the day.”

In the Aegean region, March 2022 was the coolest March of the last 40 years. This caused dam­age, and the har­vest was low,” Hazer said.

And then, sum­mer came with extreme heat,” he added. We coped with it also thanks to the wells and drip irri­ga­tion net­works in our groves.”

However, the com­ing sea­son’s lead-up is quite dif­fer­ent from last year. Unlike Spain, Turkey is hav­ing a wet spring, which is great news for us,” Hazer said. As we have not yet even entered the flow­er­ing stage, it is hard to pre­dict the har­vest at this stage, but we have rea­son to be hope­ful.”

The chal­lenge for us is to man­age humid­ity and squeeze in foliar appli­ca­tions of micro-ele­ments into dry breaks, which has become part of the rea­son for our oil qual­ity,” he added.

Hazer sees a bright future for high-qual­ity olive oil pro­duc­tion in Turkey, a coun­try whose long-stand­ing olive farm­ing tra­di­tion dates back to the ancient Romans’ pres­ence there.

Today, with many new bou­tique brands like Bozelli, aware­ness, inter­est and appre­ci­a­tion of top olive oil qual­ity among con­sumers is grow­ing in Turkey,” he said.

This trend of improved olive oil qual­ity we observe in the num­ber of awards Turkish brands get in NYIOOC over the years,” Hazer added. In 2023, Turkey’s olive oil pro­duc­ers earned 74 awards, nine more than they did in 2022 and 30 more than in 2021.

Consumers are increas­ingly curi­ous and try­ing bet­ter qual­ity olive oils,” Hazer said. Many begin to build their knowl­edge about this liq­uid like they do for wine or vine­gar. We believe that this is the begin­ning of a new era, and we are happy to be at the fore­front of that jour­ney with our vari­eties.”

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