Jose Cuervo Tequila is big. Thats the first thing you have to understand. Jose Cuervo accounts for more than one-third of all tequila produced in Mexico. In other words, one out of every three bottles of tequila produced in the entire country of Mexico carries the Jose Cuervo name. Even more remarkable, 42% of all the tequila sold in the United States (more than 2 million cases in 1996), is Jose Cuervo, which puts it in the top ten list of all spirits sold, in the same league as giants like Bacardi, Smirnoff, and Jim Beam.
Jose Cuervo Tequila is also old, with 200 years of history as Mexicos oldest continuously running tequila distiller. Jose Maria Guadalupe Cuervo received a permit in 1795 allowing him to manufacture mezcal wine. That humble permit eventually led to the dynasty that is the present day Jose Cuervo. When Jose Guadalupe Cuervo died, the property went to his daughter, who gave control to her husband Vincente Albino Rojas. He modernized the distillery, expanded production and sales, and renamed the plant La Rojeņa. Different heirs controlled the company through the 1800s. Jose Cuervo Labastida ran the operation from 19001921. Thereafter, a series of administrators ran the company, until the operation was returned to the Cuervo heirs.
The company is currently operated by Juan Beckman Vidal, under the control of Hueblein Corporation. Cuervo has two distilleries. A huge distillery and bottling plant
sits just outside Guadalajara, but the one to visit is La Rojeņa, located in the heart of Tequila. La Rojeņa is a charming distillery, immaculately groomed, accented with brilliant magenta bougainvillea. A bank of hornos is in constant operation, steaming the agaves brought by an endless line of trucks. Rooms full of stainless steel tanks fermenting the aguamiel give off the heady spiced-yam aroma of cooked agave. A truly impressive distillation room glistens with polished copper alambic stills. The whole place features gardens and tile work of the first quality. Even the sign-in procedure, where they issue hard hats for the tour, adds to the charm.
It is virtually impossible to get any exact information about production details from Jose Cuervo. Whether this is the policy of the company, or a Hueblein Corporation attitude, I cant say. Most of their production is 51% agave mixto tequila. Cuervo Tradicional and Reserva de la Familia are the only 100% blue agave products. The second label is a mixto tequila called Dos Reales.
The house style at Cuervo is sweet. The Blanco offers intense white pepper in the nose and the taste. Caramel aromas and flavors dominate the other tequilas.
Cuervo Silver: Colorless. The attack is wow! and pungent, with light one-dimensional agave intensity. The aroma is dominated by white pepper, with underlying notes of citrus, floral, and cardboard. Sweet, but thin in the mouth. High white pepper gives way to a hot alcoholic burn in the finish that lingers for quite some time.
Cuervo Gold: Faded gold with brown overtones. Light agave intensity. Intense caramel and vanilla aromas in the nose, with hints of agave and smoke. Very thick, heavy viscosity, with buttery, toasty flavors. Cloyingly sweet on the finish.
Cuervo 1800: Golden with brown tones. Full attack, but light agave intensity. Sencillo. Lots of caramel and vanilla aromas, to the point of cream soda in the nose. Sweet with medium mouth feel. Nutty, caramel flavors. More delicate than Cuervo Gold.
Cuervo Tradicional: Clear with some brown tones. Strong attack with a burn. Macho agave intensity. Earthy, wet cement aromas, with smoke and slight caramel. Sweet and full in the mouth. Mild agave flavor, some smoke and definite volatile flavors lead to a long bitter finish that remains hot.
Cuervo Reserva de la Familia: Dark gold and brown. Full, mellow attack. Light agave intensity and sencillo agave complexity. Loads of toasty oak with plenty of smoke in the aroma. Sweet and oily in the mouth. Toasty, oaky, and smoky flavors with some caramel, but minimal agave flavor. After the initial flavors hit, a jolt of hot alcohol takes over, but soon dissipates. Tastes very much like slightly sweet bourbon, with a long caramel and cardboard finish.
Dos Reales Blanco: Colorless with a light, mellow attack. Light agave intensity with sencillo complexity. Perfumed floral and citrus notes in the aroma give way to slight acetone aromas and some pepper. Very sweet and hot in the mouth. Slight pepper and smoke flavors leading to a sweet, hot finish.
Dos Reales Aņejo: Golden with hints of brown. Light and mellow attack, with light agave intensity and sencillo agave complexity. Caramel aromas dominate with wisps of smoke and a solid hit of acetone aromas. Sweet in the mouth, with slight anise and toast flavors that quickly give way to lip-numbing alcohol. Sweet cardboard flavors and heat dominate the finish.