With the career that I have, it is important for me to experience as much as possible so that I am aware of the various expressions, and to target specific audiences with my knowledge. It is with this that I have decided to cover one of the best-selling tequila in the world, Jose Cuervo.
Back in 1758, Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo was issued a land grant by King Ferdinand VI of Spain in the town of Tequila, Jalisco. Here his family founded the Taberna de Cuervo, the farm where they would cultivate and harvest the important blue agave plant, the basis of all tequila. January 15th 1795 saw the first sales, and became the first official distillery (named La Rojeña and is now the oldest active distillery in Latin America) in the town of Santiago de Tequila with rights to sell the product outside the Nueva Galicia jurisdiction. By 1880, the Cuervo family had begun individually bottling tequila for commercial distribution, a far cry from other tequila producers who still used barrels.
Upon the death of Don Jesus, his wife, Ana Gonzalez Rubio, inherited the La Rojeña distillery and in 1900 married Jose Cuervo Labastida. From then on, the brand became Jose Cuervo Tequila. After Ana Gonzalez Rubio’s death in 1934, the estate was left to her niece Guadalupe Gallardo, who died in 1966 and left the estate to her sister, Virginia Gallardo. One of her sons, Juan Beckmann Gallardo, would manage the business. Part of Cuervo was owned by Distribuidora Bega, and, starting in 1979, the other part was owned by Grupo Cuervo, made up of Beckmann, his son Juan Beckmann Vidal, Jose Luis Campos, and Heublein Inc.
Along with Sauza, Jose Cuervo began to dominate the tequila industry in the 1940’s. Tequila first made significant inroads into the United States during the prohibition era, when it was smuggled from Mexico into southwestern US states. Tequila made further advances in the US during World War II, when many US distilleries switched to war-related production and there were restrictions on European imports, followed by a boom in American tourists visiting Mexico in the 1980’s.
In 1989, the Beckmann family sold 45% of Jose Cuervo to International Distillers and Vintners (IDV), a division of Grand Metropolitan PLC. In 1997, Grand Metropolitan was renamed Diageo and would be Jose Cuervo’s main distributor outside of Mexico until 2013. Since then, Proximo Spirits, a company owned by the Beckmann family, took over Jose Cuervo’s distribution.
So a great rise in the ranks, coupled with taking advantage of a time where the rest of the liquor market struggled, has made Jose Cuervo to the status it now achieves. But how do you go about creating such a product?
The blue agave plant leaves are chopped off and the core is cooked and crushed to create juice, which is fermented and distilled to make tequila. The resulting unaged, clear tequila is then diluted with water to bring the alcohol content down to around 40%.
Pure tequila is distilled 100% from the sap of the blue agave plant, while mixto tequila only need to be at least 51% blue agave in order to legally be called tequila. Back in 1964, tequila makers were allowed to obtain up to 30% of the sugars in tequila from sources other than the agave plant. During a blue agave shortage in the 1970s, Mexican regulations were further revised to require that tequila contain only 51.5% agave.
So how does the range of Jose Cuervo fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
A sweet nose with a rather gentle, floral aroma with hints of agave. Surprisingly clean on the palate. Soft, delicate and good flavours of agave and sweetness.
Jose Cuervo Especial Reposado – 38%
Made from a blend of reposado (aged) and younger tequilas. Light floral aromas with a hint of agave to finish. Rather light on the palate too, with a developing dry warmth with subtle kicks of spice. A little sweet near the finish, and hints of honey. Short.
Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado – 38%
Made from 100% blue agave and rested in white oak barrels. Soft agave notes on the nose, with a natural sweetness and slight earthy notes. Sweet upon the palate, with thick notes of agave, fudge and thin spice. Warm finish that lingers.
I can imagine that majority of you would have had at some point a shot of Jose Cuervo with salt and lime. But the brand can also be credited for a classic tequila cocktail, the Margarita –
The Cuervo Margarita
30 ml Jose Cuervo Especial Gold
90 ml Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix, Classic Lime
1 tsp kosher salt
Cut lime in slices. Rub rim of chilled rocks glass with lime slice, dip into salt to coat, and fill with ice. In a shaker with ice, add Jose Cuervo Especial Gold and Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix. Shake well and strain into glass. Garnish with lime wedge.
The Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix is just one of several within the range that you can acquire. The Tradicional expressions are popular within bars, and the new Cinge and premium Reserva de la Familia can be seen popping up every once in a while. The brand is versatile, so don’t be afraid to add to you drinks cabinet.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.