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Jose Cuervo Especial Gold

Review: Jose Cuervo Especial Gold  77/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published April 16, 2018

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 most popular in the entire world.

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 the case of the Jose Cuervo Especial Gold, the information presented to me is that the joven spirit is made from a blend of reposado (aged) and younger tequilas. It is bottled at 40% alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4/5

Pictured to the left is a bottle shot of Jose Cuervo  Especial Gold. The tequila is housed in a medium tall rectangular bottle with a square base. I like these rectangular bottles as they are easy to store on my bar shelf. Better yet, they are also easy to grab and easy to pour when I want to mix a drink. The label is eye-catching and easy to read.

I do have a bit of a quibble with the metallic cap which seals the bottle. 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 closure.

(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 7.5/10

The Jose Cuervo Especial Gold, being a joven spirit, displays itself with a light golden colour in my glass.

The breezes above the glass have a light alcohol taint alongside a mixture of caramel, mild white pepper and a somewhat muted herbaceous agave (the smell of which resembles boiled squash or cooked pumpkin). As I let the glass sit, the sweetness seems to increase a little and I catch an almost rum-like indication of sugar cane. Citrus zest joins in (grapefruit and orange peel) and the light fruity agave gains strength as well. The aroma is mildly aggressive with perhaps a touch of black pepper and alcohol astringency building up as well.

In the Mouth 46.5/60

The entry into the mouth brings an obvious caramel sweetness at the front of the flavour profile. I am reminded that this is a mixto spirit which could well have sugar (in the form of caramel perhaps) added, and even neutral cane spirit may be a constituent of the younger agave spirits used to create the blend (as long the amount remains under 49%).

The fruity agave tastes sort of punky with a light presence of earthy lowland agave. Black pepper and citrus spice heat the palate; however, the overall effect of the agave fruit and the herbaceous spice seems somewhat muted perhaps by some added caramel or cane spirit. This is not a connoisseur’s Tequila. It is meant for the mass market, constructed to have a wide appeal, and to be easy to mix into cocktails. So it is to the construction of cocktails that I turn my attention.

The Jose Cuervo website boasts that this gold tequila is the ideal spirit for Margaritas, so that is where I begin my examination. The resulting mixed drink is decent enough; but my inclination is to mix the same drink with a little lemon juice instead of the lime. (I find lowland agave spirits seem to prefer lemon juice rather than lime.) When I mix this cocktail (a Picador), I do indeed find that for my palate it tastes much nicer. Other cocktails I have success with were the Tequila Breeze (see recipe below), and the Tequila Sunrise.

In the Throat  11.5/15

The exit is perhaps a little rough with more than just a touch of astringency. There is also a lingering impression of caramel mixed in with the earthy agave as well as a glow of black pepper and citrus spice. Sipping is not this spirit’s strong suit, but when mixed in cocktails for the most part this roughness disappears.

The Afterburn 7.5/10

Jose Cuervo Especial Gold is not a wonder of complexity as it lacks the firm earthy herbaceousness of a 100 % agave Reposado Tequila, and instead carries a light but noticeable caramel sweetness through to the finish. Although the spirit lacks the character of a true 100 % Agave tequila; it does serve well as a cocktail spirit.

You may read some of my other Tequila Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


The Tequila Breeze

1 1/2 oz Jose Cuervo Especial Gold
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
Sparkling Water or Soda
Lemon Slice

Add Jose Cuervo Gold over ice into a drinking glass
Add Sugar Syrup as well as Lemon and Orange Juice
Complete with sparkling water or soda
Enjoy Responsibly!

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)




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