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Tequila/Mezcal Reviews

Two Jose Cuervo Reserva de La Familia Tequila: Platino vs. Extra Añejo


Jose Cuervo - everyone's who ever had Tequila has some thoughts on them, and let's face it if you're going to be the best selling Tequila, we're talking 1 in every 5 Tequila being a Jose Cuervo, there's no way you're getting out of it spotless.

And so in 1995, after 200 years, Jose Cuervo had enough - they came up with the Reserva line that is their most premium. And so with that, the oldest active distillery in South America has three tiers you should know if you're going to give them sh*t - the Especial, which is the entry level and the walking target board for criticism, the Tradicional, which is somewhere in the middle, and then the Reserva, which is the best of the lot and was supposedly reserved for only the Jose Cuervo family and their friends.



But first, we've got to talk about Jose Cuervo!

The beginnings of Jose Cuervo can be traced to Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo's receiving of a land grant by then King Ferdinand VI of Spain in 1758. This gave Cuervo the right to start cultivating blue agave plants in Tequila, Jalisco, one of only five places you can legally produce Tequila (the agave spirit is named after the town), but also the largest of the five. This farm would be called Taberna de Cuervo - today Jose Cuervo holds millions of agave plants around the region, by far the largest.

Nevertheless, it took 37 more years and two more Spanish kings to give Cuervo's son Jose Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo the right to produce and sell Tequila commercially at the La Rojena Distillery (officially established in 1812, with the ID NOM 1122), where it still produces its Jose Cuervo Tequila today. The company first started exporting its barrels of Tequila to California in 1852 (apparently also being the basis for the first Margarita cocktail), and to do so the company had to find a way to bring the Tequilas over more efficiently. This saw Jose Cuervo's departure from the practice of transporting Tequila in barrels, and instead would first move over to damajuanas (which were rope-encased jugs) and then eventually becoming the first to bottle Tequilas individually for sale.



The Jose Cuervo company would pass from one generation to the next and today is operated by Juan Beckmann Vidal, the 11th-generation descendent of Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo. Over the past century, a number of events would help to cement Tequila and Jose Cuervo's popularity in the US, ranging from Prohibition (the ultimate alcohol FOMO), to WWII (when alcohol production in the US was largely ceased and European imports were also stopped), and then just simply that more Americans began visiting Mexico and being acquainted with the local spirit.

Since taking on its own distribution in the US, Jose Cuervo has doubled down on making its Tequila more immersive - they've built a Jose Cuervo Express train that takes you from Guadalajara and right into Tequila where you're dropped off right at Jose Cuervo's doorsteps. The trip takes you through agave fields and local volcanoes, to the tunes of a rotation of DJ beats. Right in the heart of Tequila town (which they've named Pueblo Magico or Magical Town) is the La Rojena Distillery, and there are also restaurants and a hotel, which are all of course belonging to Jose Cuervo - it's pretty much a Jose Cuervo theme park. 




And so now that we've covered what you need to know about Jose Cuervo, let's take a closer look at the Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia. As mentioned, Jose Cuervo has several ranges, from the entry level Especial, and then to the Tradicional and finally the grand daddy at the top is the Reserva, which comes in Platino, Reposado, Extra Anejo and now Cristalino. This was created in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Jose Cuervo and in particular, the Extra Anejo is released annually in an accompany wooden display box that features the work of a selected Mexican artist for that year - each year a different artist is selected. 





What makes the Reserva de la Familiar stand out from the rest of the Jose Cuervo stable is that it is distilled using copper pot stills as opposed to column stills, giving it more body, this means smaller batches as well. And while there isn't much disclosed about the exact process, Jose Cuervo says that the Reserva also makes use of a special process called Esencia de Agave or Essence of Agave that is able to bring out the entire character of the agave, as well as selecting higher quality agaves that are presumably older and from better parts of their fields that carry more mineral rich volcanic soils. Safe to say these are all made from 100% fully matured agave and are all bottled at 40% ABV (or 80 Proof). The Reposado and the Extra Anejo are aged in a combination of American oak barrels (highly charred and lightly charred) and French oak barrels (lightly charred).

With that said, let's give the Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Platino and Extra Anejo a go! Onward! 

Jose Cuervo Reserva de La Familia Platino Tequila, 40% ABV - Review


Tasting Notes

Color: Clear

Aroma: Mellow and rich smokiness and minerality, dried oregano, rosemary, more dried vegetal notes, it’s quite earthy. More on smoky clay oven interiors. Really nice layers and roundedness.

Taste: Very creamy with lots of richness, the gentle smokiness persists, with more on clay, gently sweet agave syrup, very light vanillic notes - though not quite vanilla, as well as more dried herbs in a jelly. Its got alot of body with a really nice, almost syrupy thickness to it.

Finish: More herbal sweetness, gentle but deep warmth, really earthy with some smoked cream, clay, and a soft but distinct herbaceousness.


My Thoughts

This completely blew me away! Safe to say it was incredibly tasty, but where it really stood out for me was how mellow and rich this was - the smokiness is ever present but never hot, rather it was rich and soft, almost velvety. It’s incredibly rounded with layers of mineral and clay, and also dried vegetal notes.

On the palate, its body really shone through with how rich and creamy it was. It’s uncomplicated in its flavour profile, humming the same tune as it did on the nose, with a tad bit more sweet agave syrup, but again the flavours were rich and well rounded, imbued perfectly into the almost syrupy body. The finish carried a more herbal quality, which I completely enjoyed as well, with a very long and satisfying warmth, ending off with soft earthy, vanillic and herbaceous notes.

It just astounded me how rich and mellow this was, with so much body and layered so perfectly and cohesiveness. There wasn’t a particular flavour that jutted out, safe to say no harshness either, it was totally a masterpiece in its composition and was wonderfully harmonised to give a singular experience across the senses.

Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia Extra Añejo, 40% ABV - Review


Tasting Notes

Color: Amber

Aroma: Heavy on the spiced and smoked honey, and then surrounded by more notes of earthy clay, gentle herbaceousness - dried herbal and vegetal notes, mellow and rich smokiness. Some ash too.

Taste: Fairly rich, with a pretty buoyant body, it’s actually quite vibrant even if rather straightforward in flavour - deep smoky BBQ honey, and herbs in honey, more dried herbs, with a rather pronounced bit of woody tannins.

Finish: More ash, savoury BBQ honey, chalky minerality. Definitely more dry and tannic here with a big oak influence. Some light agave syrup sweetness.


My Thoughts

This wasn’t as mellow but still carried that richness in the form of a very prominent BBQ honey that’s also smoky and with herbs added. It’s sweet and savoury at the same time, with a light tangy quality to it. This carried from nose to the palate, which itself also sported a nice bounciness to its body - again, fairly uncomplicated on the palate, but also not as cohesive and balanced here as the Platino. 

What’s nice is that this too has alot of body with a good syrupy thickness to it that helps it stay somewhat cohesive and rounded even if some of the flavours stick out more.

That said, into the finish it started to get too tannic and oaky for my liking and by the finish, it was fairly dry that seemed to be at odds with the heavy flavours.