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Tequila/Mezcal Reviews

Two Jose Cuervo Tradicional: Silver (Plata) & Reposado

 

Jose Cuervo has been around a long time - since at least the early 1800's - and is today by a mile the best selling Tequila in the world, with one in every five bottles of Tequila being a Jose Cuervo. In fact, you could more or less say that Jose Cuervo is the origin point of the start of modern day Tequila; of course, agave spirits such as Mezcal was enjoyed by the Mexican community centuries before Tequila came along. Yet, it was ultimately an official decree by the King of Spain in 1795 that allowed Jose Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo (the man Jose Cuervo himself) to produce what would be called Tequila. Tequila would later be formalised as having to be at least 51% blue agave plant distillate, and must be made in one of only five municipalities in Mexico (although it is primarily made in Jalisco).

 

You can in fact take the Jose Cuervo train right into the city of Tequila, where Jose Cuervo's La Rojena Distillery is at. It's pretty much a Jose Cuervo theme park.

 

Over those years, the popularity of Tequila would wax and wane - at times taking the lead, whilst some decades were pretty quiet. Coming into the late 2010's, and especially into the mid-2020's, Tequila (and Mezcal) has seen a marked interest from drinkers, and that's in turn spurred any number of Tequila brands, not the least of which from every celebrity and their dog. You can thank George Clooney for that. And whilst there's no way to guarantee everyone loves the agave spirit for the "right" reasons - such as the craft and history - there definitely is alot to love about it. When produced right, it can embody an incredibly tasty and complex spirit that is wholly unique, and carry with it ancestral methods and great generational stories. 

Unfortunately, most folks do not associate Jose Cuervo with that - hey, I'm just stating the obvious! And Jose Cuervo knows that - and that's why they've spent several decades segmenting their lineup of labels. And this is worth stating because as we've seen from the Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia, the distillery's top of the line Tequila, they can produce some incredibly tasty stuff with no additives or any funny business. And so the one you're really going to want to keep a look out for is the entry level Especial label which is a mixto (which means its 51% blue weber agave and 49% sugarcane, and maybe other stuff) - that's the one responsible for Jose Cuervo's rep.

 

If you're going to hate, you should at least know the full range.

 

And then in between the Jose Cuervo Especial and Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia, is the Jose Cuervo Tradicional. According to the brand, this was how Jose Cuervo has always made their tequila's from the beginning - which is to remind us that the Especial was just a party trick, and should not be taken too seriously. Regardless, the Tradicional, like the Reserva De La Familia, is 100% blue weber agave (so no funny business), and is actually also an entry-level tequila that's not too much more costly than the Especial (it's officially listed as a US$5 difference for a 700ml bottle) - so I feel fairly confident that the only reason the Especial continues to be bought is some sort of marketing issue. Because why would you buy the Especial when the Tradicional exists?

And that's why today we're going to try the Tradicional and see if it just truly obliterates the Especial.

 

 

So about the Tradicional - as mentioned, it's 100% blue weber agave, and uniquely the spirit is finished at freezing temperatures to preserve the purity of its flavour. It's distilled in copper stills, and comes in an unaged Silver (Plata), Reposado, Anejo and more recently to get on the Cristalino bandwagon, that too.

Where I'm from there's only the Silver (Plata) and Reposado available - so we'll be comparing those two.

Let's go!

Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver (Plata) - Review

So with that, let's start with the Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver (or Plata). This is 100% blue weber agave, unaged and bottled at 80 proof (40% ABV). 

It pretty much is what you would get right from the stills but dialled back to a more approachable proof.

  

Tasting Notes

Colour: Clear

Nose: Very fresh aromas. Instinctively, I get steamed sweet potatoes and oven grilled potato skins - a roasty earthy quality that doesn't carry a heavily charred or smoky character. There's a greenness in the aroma as well, reminding me of underriped bananas, as well as cooked green apple filling. 

Taste: Quite delicate on the palate as well. This time, I get a starchier earthy quality to the tequila, this time more akin to freshly steamed or boiled mini potatoes. The fruity characteristic here is closer to pomme fruits, like pear and crisp, not-so-sweet red apples. 

Finish: The finish is relatively short-lived, not developing much beyond the fruity flavours and very mild earthiness. It appears a bit more vegetal on the finish, like freshly cut grass or grilled green capsicums. Interestingly, I get a bit of caramel - the charred, sticky bits around the edges of a pastry. 

 

My Thoughts

A fresh tasting, straightforward tequila. It's bright, approachable, and doesn't seek to overwhelm the senses in anyway. I like the freshness it has - it's in a sense refreshing, with just a hint of sweetness to bring some character to the tequila. Enjoyable. Certainly feels much more natural and pure than the Especial Silver - it's not even a comparison honestly. And even though it's pretty straightforward, there's still more in the way of the fruity and earthy nuances here. Way better.

Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado - Review

Now we get on to the Reposado. This is pretty much the Silver or Plata, but here it's rested in charred oak for at least two months, and then bottled at the same 80 proof (40% ABV).

Again, worth emphasising is that this is 100% blue weber agave, so nothing added.

  

Tasting Notes

Colour: Straw

Nose: Compared to the Silver, there's more confectionery notes on the nose. I get some oakiness in a way that reminds me of vanilla essence, sugar-glazed barbeque meats (think of that sweet-savoury aroma), and cola-flavoured candy. There is a richer apple pie filling here, more so of the spiced, sweeter, denser red-apple sort. 

Taste: There is more weight on the texture here. while still retaining some brightness, the freshness is now buried in again more confectionery layers - if you could imagine that just barely perceptible tartness you get from lemon curd. There's certainly a grilled flavour here, remind me of apple sauce.

Finish: The finish lasts longer than the Silver, but it seems like the same vegetal-ish flavours appear in the finish. Here I get more barbeque-ed/chargrilled vegetables instead, like grilled onions, aubergines or zucchini. I find the smoky elements here more well integrated in the finish. As it sits on my palate even more, I get hints of freshly cracked black pepper.

 

My Thoughts

Keeping to theme, it's an easy to drink, approachable tequila. It's balanced, not standing out in a particular notion or direction, and delivers a simple, uncomplicated spirit. I appreciated the cooked-fruit, apple sauce elements of the tequila, but I did hope to have more of it. And again for comparison to the Especial Gold, this again feels alot more natural and pure - even when there's some tinge of confectionary notes here, it still feels more along the lines of cooked fruit. There's certainly much more nuance here as well, enough to feel a sort of form around it, giving it a more natural feel as mentioned.

Compared to the Tradicional Silver (Plata), I preferred the Silver for its freshness and purity, whereas with the Tradicional Reposado, it sort of feels alittle too short on the cooked fruit, which I would've hoped would come with more depth.

 

 

@vernoncelli