Jose Cuervo Especial Plata (Silver)
Review: Jose Cuervo Especial Plata (Silver) 82.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctiuc Wolf)
Published November 04, 2012
(Revisited and Re-scored May 2015)
According to the Jose Cuervo website, it all began in 1795, when Jose María Guadalupe de Cuervo was producing his Mexcal wine spirit commercially having obtained an official permit for this purpose from the King of Spain. By 1812, he had established La Rojena, the distillery which to this day produces Jose Cuervo Tequila. By 1844, Jose Cuervo Tequila was being distributed within Mexico, and in 1873 the earliest known documented export of the Tequila outside of Mexico apparently occurred when 3 bottles of Jose Cuervo were transported across the United States border by donkey. As you know, those exports have continued (although no longer by donkey), and now the Jose Cuervo brand is the best-selling tequila in the entire world.
The Jose Cuervo Especial is available as both a Gold or ‘joven’ tequila and as a Silver or ‘plata’ tequila. These tequila spirits are not made from 100 % blue agave which means that they are referred to in the industry as “Mixto“. A Mixto tequila must have at least 51 % of its volume made from blue agave distillate, but the other 49 % can be distilled from other non agave sugars (usually sugar cane). Mixto is also subject to less stringent regulation with respect to additives such as sugar syrup and caramel.
(In July of 2013, Proximo Spirits acquired the distribution rights for the Jose Cuervo brand in supplanting Diageo, who had managed the brand since 1997.)
In the Bottle 4/5
Jose Cuervo is the top-selling brand of Tequila in the world in part because of its attractive price. Its packaging reflects this economy with a no-frills approach. The medium tall, square bottle is apparently designed to allow the company to ship bottles more efficiently by packing a greater volume of tequila into the rectangular shipping case. As well as being economic, the bottle is also functional. It is designed to fit easily on the bartender’s shelf, and to be easy to hold, and to be easy for that aforementioned bartender to pour making the brand very accessible to the bar trade. The pressed on metallic cap also suits the purpose of economy being very cheap to produce, and since these caps are also very easy to open, again the bartenders who want to pour drinks fast and furiously are kept happy.
Personally I dislike pressed on metallic caps, they are flimsy, they warp easily and they often lose their ability to seal a spirit as the threads have a tendency to strip. Nothing says ‘bottom shelf spirit’ louder than a pressed on metallic cap. As well, on my bar shelf, this particular bottle blends into the background of the other spirits easily, making it less attractive to present to my friends when I want to grab a tequila to mix some cocktails.
(I suspect, that for most people, price and functionality are more important than aesthetic; however, I am quite happy that I am not most people.)
In the Glass 8/10
The Jose Cuervo Especial Plata, being a blanco spirit, is of course clear in my glass and shows no trace of colour. The initial nose from the glass carries a mixture of light honey, mild white pepper and a somewhat muted herbaceous agave (the smell of which resembles boiled squash). As I let the glass sit, the light honey tones begin to remind me of sugar cane syrup, and the breezes above the glass reveal a light impression of lemon zest within the white pepper.
The overall aroma is light and unassertive. The earthy agave never deepens, and the white pepper never becomes aggressive, which is I suspect, exactly what the producers were aiming for.
In the Mouth 50/60
The entry into the mouth is smooth and unobtrusive with an obvious sweetness which again reminds me of cane syrup. The fruity agave is not aggressive; and there is only a mild white pepper spice heating the palate. Some lemon and lime accents are present; but the overall effect of the fruit and spice is rather mild compared to other tequila brands I have tasted. Of course, this is not meant to be a connoisseur’s Tequila. It is meant for the mass market, constructed to have a wide appeal, and to be easy to drink.
In this regard, the spirit succeeds, as it is so easy-going that I can throw ounce down my throat without any discomfort. I can also slide a large dollop into my Margarita cocktail on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and barely feel its bite. In fact, in my recent 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge, the Jose Cuervo Especial Plata outperformed many much more expensive blanco 100% agave tequila. Two of my four judges ranked this spirit well into the top five. The laid back approach of the Jose Cuervo Plata ensures its success as a mixing spirit.
In the Throat 12.5/15
The exit is sweet, with only hints of earthy agave leaving a diminishing glow of white pepper on my tonsils. Complexity is not this spirit’s strong suit, but smoothness is. The impression of cane lingers.
The Afterburn 8/10
The Jose Cuervo Especial Plata lacks the “in your face” earthy herbaceousness and the spicy heat of a typical Blanco Tequila. It is instead, smooth and easy to drink; and carries a cane-like sweetness forward which will appeal to many people. Although the spirit lacks the character of a true 100 % Agave tequila; it does very well as a cocktail spirit. Its smooth non-demanding style also makes it a good choice for ritual of the Tequila-shot.
You may read some of my other Tequila Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
Alfred Cointreau Margarita
2 oz Blanco Tequila
7/8 oz Cointreau
1/8 oz sugar syrup (1:1)
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
Combine all ingredients in a large metal shaker and add ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass
Garnish with salt and a lime wheel.
Please enjoy this indulgence responsibly!
With the ever-increasing price of limes due to recent shortages in production, I find myself mixing with lemons more and more these days. Here is another great recipe (based upon the Picador) which uses Lemon juice instead of Lime juice in the Margarita style. I usually add a drop of food colouring to achieve the brilliant yellow colour in the final cocktail. (Interestingly the Picador predates the Margarita by a couple of decades.)
The Dreadful Lemon Sky
2 Oz Jose Cuervo Especial Plata
1 Oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 Oz Sugar Syrup
3/8 Oz Triple Sec
Place a lemon slice in a cocktail glass
Place the first four ingredients in a metal shaker with equal parts of crushed ice and ice cubes
Shake vigorously until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain over the Lemon slice in the cocktail glass
This cocktail is part my ongoing series of Tequila cocktails named after the Travis McGee novels of American author John D. MacDonald. I have always like the Travis McGee novels, and the titles of these novels just seem to me to be particularly well suited to be also the names of great Tequila cocktails.
Note: If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing Tequila. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, (we are probably still cocktail in territory).
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing delicious cocktails!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)