cuervo family  

The spirit we call Tequila was not native to the Americas but was actually introduced by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500s. However, it took a man named Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo to immortalize this drink and turn it into what has become one of the most popular spirits in the world including the Las Cruces and Mesilla areas that I call home!

In 1758 Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo, a Mexican Colonist from Spain, was awarded a land grant by Spanish King Ferdinand VI for a tract of land in the town of Tequila, Jalisco. It was here that he founded the Taberna de Cuervo where he farmed agave, the fleshy, spiked plants growing native in the region. In 1795 Don Jose's son, Jose Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo was granted permission to distill the agave plants and in that year the first drops of Mezcal de Tequila de Jose Cuervo flowed from the stills. 

This was the first instance of commercial tequila development, and the birth of the tequila industry!

The Cuervo spirit quickly gained popularity, and sold throughout Mexico and the southwest. In 1880 the Cuervo family became the first to individually bottle their tequila, while others chose to sell it in large wooden barrels. In contrast, the Cuervo family decided their tequila would be easier to transport and sell if it was in smaller bottles.

  old cuervo  

Because of this strategy they began to export to the United States far earlier than other brands, with three bottles crossing the border in the late 1800s. And exporting to the US was something they continued doing in the 20th century. They especially increased their popularity during prohibition here in the US as bootleggers were all-too-happy to smuggle it across the border to sell to thirsty Americans.

Jose Cuervo Tequila, one of the only family-owned, large-scale spirit manufacturers left in the world, accounts for over 35% of market share of tequila in the world, and almost 34% in the United States alone. It's been referenced in songs (country and rock) plus movies, books, artwork and just about every other cultural artifact you can think of. It's safe to say that Jose Cuervo is more than just a Tequila brand, it is a part of the popular history of the US and Mexico.

Oh, and it does make some amazing tequilas. Most often when we think of Jose Cuervo we think of the “Especial” lines, but these aren't truly Jose Cuervo. These are what are knows as "mixtos" - tequila blends with only 51% agave tequila mixed with sugarcane spirit, which is much cheaper as the resulting taste denotes.

What draws me to Jose Cuervo, though, is the Tradicional line, which is made with 100% agave and in the manner and style of the original recipes set down by Don Jose almost 260 years ago. The tastes of these, the Silver and Reposado, are crisp and floral. They have distinct agave notes, mixed with pepper and citrus.

These two brilliant Tequilas are suitable for just about any drink you want to put it in. The taste of the agaves will sit just behind the other flavors and complement them with a distinct agave flavor.

But these are also beautiful by themselves, on a brisk night here in the desert, with the rains in the distance and the smell of sage in the air, a warming sip of Jose Cuervo Tradicional - that's my idea of paradise!

And then of course there's the best of the best - the Reserva de la Familia, Jose Cuervo's extra anejo tequila. This is my review for the month, a task I was only too happy to complete! Click the link and read more about this elegant, sophisticated spirit.