The Full Line Up Of Jose Cuervo Tequilas, Ranked

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If you drink tequila, you’ve had Jose Cuervo. Not only is Jose Cuervo the best-selling brand of tequila (according to Forbes, it makes up one-third of all tequila sales globally), the brand is as synonymous with tequila as Jack Daniels is with whiskey and that’s probably because Jose Cuervo has been selling it longer than any other brand on the market. And that’s why we knew it was time to rank the entire line.

This brand does have a serious history that’s worth touching on before we dive in. Back in 1758, Don José Antonio de Cuervo was issued a land grant by King Ferdinand VI of Spain in the town of Tequila, Jalisco. By 1795, Cuervo’s son José María Guadalupe de Cuervo produced the first commercial bottle of “vino de mezcal de tequila,” and the tequila industry as we know it was born.

For this lineup, we included all ten of Jose Cuervo’s main tequila expressions, excluding special anniversary bottles or commemorative limited editions, just to keep it as evergreen as possible. Say hi to the fam:

Cuervo
Dane Rivera

As visible and popular as Jose Cuervo is, the brand also kind of gets a bad rap amongst tequila snobs or anyone whose eyes automatically drift toward the top shelf when picking up booze. Part of the brand’s success is definitely owed to its basic expressions’ price point. The bottom-shelf Especial series offers two expressions priced below $20. But judging the brand on its lowest hanging fruit does a real disservice to its higher-end offerings, like the Tradicional and Familia De Reserva lines.

Since the flavor and quality of Cuervo’s flavor profile (and quality) take huge leaps between the different series, we decided to rank each bottle as they relate to their respective series, rather than ranking all of the bottles against one another. The ranking still essentially plays out from least delicious to most, but we hope this helps you zero in on the best in whatever price point you’re shopping. Let’s drink!

Especial Series $12-$20

The Especial series is Jose Cuervo’s flagship collection of expressions. If you’ve only had Jose Cuervo in mixed drinks at random bars, as a free shot in a shot and beer special, or at a family party as the base for a giant frozen margarita, it’s likely been from one of these extremely affordable bottles.

The Especial series isn’t just affordable, it’s cheap, and that comes right down to the flavor experience. Drinking this stuff straight can be downright wince-inducing and that’s because these tequilas are mixto tequilas, which means 51 percent of its volume is made from blue agave distillate, while the other 49 percent is a generic sugarcane spirit. The reason you see bottles from other brands proudly proclaiming to be made from 100 percent blue agave is that Cuervo is such a strong seller despite being one of the only glass-bottle brands that aren’t made from 100 percent blue agave.

That mixto designation makes the flavors a bit more blunt and harsh. But when mixed in a cocktail, it’s negligible, making this series a great option if you want to stretch your dollar for a big party with cheap and easy drinks. Like all of Jose Cuervo’s tequilas, the Especial line is produced at Nom 1122, Casa Cuervo in Tequila Jalisco.

2. Jose Cuervo Especial — Silver

Cuervo
Dane Rivera

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $12.99

Tasting Notes:

There is a pronounced and harsh gasoline burn on the nose. The flavor is an assault on the palate as your tastebuds are flooded with spicy and sharp black pepper notes, with a sustained sulfur burn on the aftertaste that squints the eyes. Silver tequilas generally come across as smooth, pleasing and easy to drink, but this one is spikey and loud.

The Bottom Line:

It’s fine as the base for a standard margarita or paloma, but almost impossible to drink straight. Especially if tequila is your drink of choice.

1. Jose Cuervo Especial — Reposado (Gold)

Cuervo
Dane Rivera

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $20.99

Tasting Notes:

This is a joven-style tequila made from a blend of reposado and younger tequilas of at least 51 percent agave with caramel coloring added to the finished project to give it a gold color

Things slightly improve with the higher-priced Gold edition. Woodsy notes greet the nose with a medicinal and slightly oaky flavor that finishes with a blunt burned wood flavor on the aftertaste. That’s right, burned, not ‘charred,’ straight up burned.

Like the Silver, the Gold is a mixto and even though it utilizes reposado tequila in its blend, the unnaturally dark color is actually a result of added caramel color.

The Bottom Line:

A very slight step-up from the silver edition, but still bottom-shelf stuff that matches its cheap price tag in flavor, quality and value.

Tradicional Series $16-$32

Jose Cuervo’s Tradicional line is the real stuff, made from 100 percent blue agave tequila cooked in traditional stone ovens and more in line with the sort of stuff the brand was producing in 1795. Crafted at Nom 1122 Casa Cuervo, the Tradicional Series uses copper pot stills and oak barrel aging for a higher quality spirit that comes across smoother and more flavorful than the Especial series.

4. Jose Cuervo Tradicional — Cristalino

Cuervo
Dane Rivera

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $32.99

Tasting Notes:

Cristalino is the newest expression in Jose Cuervo’s Tradicional line and is matured in American White Oak and made from a blend of Tradicional Añejo tequila and Reserve de La Familia Extra Añejo tequila before being filtered for smoothness and color. Vanilla and honey greet the nose with an inviting aroma that pulls you in and delivers caramelized brown sugar and subtle notes of chocolate on the taste buds. Despite its initial inviting quality, a chemical diesel burn stains the aftertaste leaving you with a burn that sticks to the throat and drys you out.

I can taste the slightest hint of artichoke and bell pepper swimming deep in there, but it’s sadly drowned out by that burn.

The Bottom Line:

A good flavor, but the burning after taste doesn’t deliver on that smoothness Cristalino promises.

3. Jose Cuervo Tradicional — Reposado

Cuervo
Dane Rivera

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $17.99

Tasting Notes:

Very herbaceous on the nose, with a slight pine aroma and gentle flecks of vanilla that morph into coffee notes and caramelized honey. Cooked agave adds a toasted vegetal quality to it but it’s a bit too wooden on the backend. That oak finish ends up overpowering some of the more interesting notes, making this a better tequila for mixing than sipping.

The reposado tequila is made from 100 percent estate-grown blue agave slow cooked in clay ovens and double-distilled in copper stills.

The Bottom Line:

A great mixing Reposado but if you prefer sipping straight, you might find this one a bit too oakey for its own good.

2. Jose Cuervo Tradicional — Añejo

Cuervo
Dane Rivera

ABV:. 40%

Average Price: $30.99

Tasting Notes:

While the añejo provides a beautiful deep amber color in bottle, it’s much ligher in the glass and comes across lighter in flavor than I expect an añejo to taste. Vanilla and woody resinous oak dominate the nose with a distinct flavor that combines notes of warm chocolate, savory bacon, crushed black pepper corn, and leather into a bouquet of rich flavors that go down smooth and finish spicy.

The Tradicional Añejo is rested in charred American oak barrels for at least a year before being finished in single malt Irish Whiskey barrels resulting in a varied and complex flavor that you’ll never get tired of sipping.

The Bottom Line:

A luxurious bottle of añejo tequila that punches far above its weight. It’s subtle, distinct, and full of the type of complexity you’ll get a lot or pleasure exploring.

1. Jose Cuervo Tradicional — Plata

Cuervo
Dane Rivera

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $16.99

Tasting Notes:

Cuervo’s cheapest bottle in the Tradicional series, the Plata, is also its best. It’s made from the same estate grown 100 percent blue agave as the aged varieties, but skips the aging process and instead undergoes a special bottling process that is designed to conserve its flavor at freezing temperatures. Jose Cuervo even suggests you keep the bottle chilled in the freezer and served in a frozen shot glass, which is exactly what I did and you know what? That bottle deserves the freezer space it takes up.

It’s surprisingly floral on the nose, with notes of jasmine and geranium with a gentleness that extends to its flavor. I’m getting notes of orange zest, vegetal agave, and pineapple. The experience is almost the same at room temperature, only you get a stronger burn on the finish which sours the experience. So chill it!

The Bottom Line:

The best bottle in the Tradicional series, despite its low price and lack of aging. Drink it chilled and bask in its sweet floral glory.

Reserva De La Familia Series $68-$195

Now we come to the top of the line, the Reserva De La Familia series, which follows the meticulously handcrafted technique started by Jose Cuervo’s original master distiller. Each bottle of the Reserva De La Familia series is numbered, dated, and wax sealed by hand and is produced using a process Jose Cuervo calls ‘Esencia de Agave,’ which promises to deliver full flavor, character, and essence.

This tequila is made exclusively from the inner portions of hand-harvested agave planted in the estate’s richest volcanic soils and cooked at La Rojeña for 48 hours. Each of these bottles is a winner and would do well in a blind taste test against similar expressions from much more expensive brands.

3. Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia — Platino

Cuervo
Dane Rivera

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $68

Tasting Notes:

The Platino is an un-aged expression with a bright vegetal flavor that comes across supremely smooth and gentle on the palate. Fruity pear and pineapple notes dominate the flavor with subtle notes of green bean, bell pepper, and eucalyptus peppered throughout with a citrusy floral finish.

The Bottom Line:

It’s good but that extra bottle aging of the Repo and Añejo offers so much more than this pure unaged spirit can.

2. Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia — Extra Añejo

Cuervo
Dane Rivera

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $195

Tasting Notes:

Produced from the inner hearts of ten to 12-year-old hand-harvested agave, the Reserva De La Familia Extra Añejo is aged for three years in American and French white oak barrels and blended with vintage reserves, resulting in a toasty almond and coffee-forward flavor that coats the throat like honey.

After the initial toasted almond flavor, you’ll be met with sweet vanilla and spicy cinnamon notes with a dark molasses and leather body and a caramelized finish. After drinking this stuff it made my tongue slightly numb.

The Bottom Line:

You’ll never get tired of sipping this toasty and luxurious tequila. A luxurious aged tequila that is full of character and a flavor that coats the tongue in the best way.

1. Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia — Reposado

Cuervo
Dane Rivera

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $82

Tasting Notes:

Jose Cuervo’s Reserva De La Familia Reposado is aged in three American and French oak barrels, resulting in a medley of interesting flavors that constantly shift across the palate. The initial taste comes across as surprisingly sweet slowly morphing into a warm chocolate flavor, with cinnamon and vanilla dancing across the tongue until forming into a bright fruitiness.

The pineapple flavors then settle into a nice oaky and toasted agave finish that begs for a follow-up sip just so you can enjoy the journey all over again.

The Bottom Line:

A journey of flavors that tastes great sipped and even better mixed into a cocktail. This reposado is the sort of spirit that is constantly shifting in flavor, bouncing between toasted and vegetal qualities with flecks of floral and fruity interest.

Source: https://uproxx.com/life/best-jose-cuervo-tequila-ranked/

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