G’day guys and welcome to an article on a spirit that I’ve not nearly as much familiarity with as I would like. As it had never really appealed to me, though I now know why. Like rum, at a younger age I had assumed all liquors were one in the same, and bought a workaday bottle of Bundaberg rum from a Bottle-O drive through and attempted to drink Bundaberg rum neat, the harshness of the drink put me off. Not knowing of course I was misusing a cocktail spirit designed of increased potency to compete with other ingredients in mixed drinks, and neat was sickly sweet and course. Completely unaware at this age, that rum was not drink one, drink them all, and the same goes for all. That these were completely separate animals as those carefully crafted and distilled to be drank on their own. And now, at this age there are in fact many hard liquors out there worthy of a glass accompanied only by ice. The same story I had experienced with tequila. I tried a bottle of el Jimador reposado tequila, a one hundred percent agave tequila in juxtaposition to the seventy percent agave Jose Cuervo. Similarly, I knew not of how the straight sipping spirits were, and that this undoubtedly was another cocktail spirit. For Margaritas or shots. And was not to my taste. And this went unquestioned for some time. Sure, I drank tequila albeit mixed as part of a Margarita. But here, now, in the spirit of the website of the exploration of fine wines and spirits, I revisit the idea. As like rum, the fault as you would expect, was not with the drink as a whole, but with my selection within this category. And better to try what I expect to a more refined tequila.
Like my last few articles, we’re continuing the theme of the pub-hero labels, such as the Three Wise Men, four if you include Jose Cuervo. This bottle, I felt was a good place to start to reintroduce myself to tequila. Especially as this bottle was a limited edition bottle, the Jose Cuervo Tradicional. Jose Cuervo is known far and wide throughout the globe as the best selling label of tequila, officially it is said, the labels sells three and a half million cases annually to the United States alone, and is a fifth of all tequila sold worldwide.
Tequila, in itself is a product exclusive to the former Spanish colony of Mexico, distilled from the blue agave plant. Like Cognac, although it’s commercial empire may reach throughout the globe, hails from just one small region, namely the area of volcanic soil surrounding the Mexican city of Tequila. The namesake town the liquor was first produced in during the sixteenth century. Evolving from distillation from pulque, the fermented sap from the agave, drank in pre-Columbian Mexico before the time of colonization. Were it not for the conflict with the Spaniards, tequila would not exist. Tequila was invented by the colonizers who when they run out of brandy, turned to pulque and distilled it. The terroir, as with all alcohol from wine to whiskey, plays an important role in the quality of the tequila as dictated by the quality of the plant harvested. The agave plants harvested in the higher altitudes are said to be larger in size and sweeter in taste and smell. The agave from the lowlands in comparison, are hardier and less tender. The label Jose Cuervo, began life when the founder Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo was granted a plot of land in seventeen-fifty-eight to plant agave, and in seventeen-ninety-seven was granted a permit by King Carlos IV to sell tequila commercially. Jose Cuervo became the first producer of tequila in eighteen-eighty to individually bottle their tequila for shipment, as was the style at the time. The label, originally known simply as “Vino Mezcal de Tequila de Jose Cuervo”, eventually shortened to just Jose Cuervo, proceeded forwarded swapping hands through the family generations gathering momentum. When the American Prohibition arrived and hit the American domestic hard, cutting them down where they stood, Jose Cuervo in neighboring Mexico was unimpeded. Cashing in on the exclusion of the competition, from Americans crossing the border to buy tequila in bulk and smuggling it north home. And then again during the Second World War, when the competition was halted by the war efforts if not by occupation of the Third Reich in the case of their European competitors. Once again serving as a substitute for brandy.
And so we arrive here, this limited edition of tequila from the biggest label in the business. The bottle arrives on the shelves, bearing the word tradicional. This, to me tells me straight away that this is exactly the reintroduction that I want. Tequila, perhaps prepared in the ways of old, the way it should be. I can only imagine that planting a plant and coming back sometime later to uproot it and harvest it for it’s sap to distill can only be modernized to a certain extent, but what makes this bottle special? When searched, the internet relays exactly this, but nothing more. Well, nothing more in English at least, the official webpage for the Jose Cuervo Tradicional may provide more input, I can’t tell, my Spanish is atrocious. But we can safely deduce that this is a journey back to the traditional methods of crafting tequila in the birth of the label. One could almost argue this, by association is the tequila equivalent of Jack Daniels Single Barrel range, making their spirits by the methods of old in the birth of their label. I wouldn’t say this quite so eagerly, as the Single Barrel Select retails at a scarcely totalitarian one hundred dollars Australian, this retails at roughly half that. Although is a limited edition, and could be said that they can afford this attention to detail, as they do not intend to do so indefinitely. The Tradicional, comes as a range of two; blanco (un-oaked), and reposado (oaked). I have little frame of reference, while vodka is unoaked and is in general inhospitable neat, but rum is perfectly fine to drink unoaked, so blanco tequila could go either one of two ways. I therefore heired on the side of caution and followed others drinking their reposado tequila neat. Especially since I did just make an entire YouTube video on the case-study of the importance of oak in spirits and in indeed all alcohols.
The tequila within the bottle is a pale, light brown. Not the dark golden caramel-brown of whiskeys, more the light fresh brown of freshly cut timber. Filling that strange space between the darker spirits like whiskey and white spirits, only occupied otherwise by grass vodkas. The glass embossed with the signature of Jose Cuervo. And capped with a cork, a reassuring sign that this is the straight sipping tequila I was in search of. As soon as I unwrap the plastic encasing the cork, never mind removing it, a sweet vegetal, organic nose wafts flirtatiously past, encouraging me to delve deeper before even the bottle is open. When I finally uncork the bottle, the nose is sweet, inviting, herbal and vegetal. What the agave plant must smell like. On ice, the nose calms, the nose is sugary and confectioner, like cordial but with body. The taste. An earthy sensation, not brash, deep or smoky, more a subtle sweetness in the back of the throat. A taste of succulence, but also of hardy vegetation.
In summary: This is indeed a deliciously enjoyable tequila. Full of vibrant, fruity, and herbal flavors. Definitely a recommendation. This bottle is the exact reintroduction I was looking for. Cheers