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Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado

Review: Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado  80.5/100
Review by Chip Dykstra
May 02, 2022

In 1795, Jose María Guadalupe de Cuervo began to commercially produce his Mexcal wine spirit based upon an official permit from the King of Spain. By 1812, he had established La Rojena, the distillery which to this day still produces Jose Cuervo Tequila. In 1844, Cuervo Tequila was being distributed within Mexico, and in 1873 the earliest known documented export of the tequila outside of Mexico occurred when 3 bottles of Cuervo were transported across the United States border by donkey. Those exports have continued (although no longer by donkey), and in 2013 the Jose Cuervo brand was recognized as the best-selling tequila brand in the entire world.

Jose Cuervo Tradicional is marketed today as the original Cuervo tequila. The brand is sold in Alberta as a Plata or Blanco spirit (see review here) as well as a Reposado spirit. both versions are produced from 100% blue agave. The Reposado is aged (or rested) in oak barrels for a minimum of two months before being bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

When I checked the label of my sample bottle, I see that the registered NOM for the Tradicional is 1122 which of course identifies the distillery of origin as Casa Cuervo, S.A. de C.V..  This distillery is located in the Los Valles (Jalisco) which means that the primary source of agave is probably lowland grown agave. This means the flavour profile we can expect will lean towards a punky, earthy fruitiness with the typical squeal of spice muted to some extent. (It is Highland grown agave which typically brings a high dosage of peppery spice.) It could be of course that the distillery also source highland grown agave so we shouldn’t draw conclusions regarding the spirit quite yet.

The brand has been owned by the Beckmann family of Mexico for 11 generations, and is currently distributed in North America by Proximo Spirits.

In The Bottle  4/5

Jose Cuervo Tradicional tequila arrives in a tall slender bottle. I notice that a lot of tequila brands utilize these very tall bottle displays; but I must admit that I have stopped being a fan, as this style of bottle does not fit within regular shelf openings in my home bar. The ‘slender tallness’ of the bottle has the additional drawback of being a bit unstable requiring only a small jostle to knock it over. This means that placing the bottle at the top of the shelf where there is room, is precarious.

On the positive side, the bottle is sealed with a good synthetic cork closure, and the labeling is professional and quite satisfactory. Overall the good outweighs the bad, although a shorter, squat bottle would have garnered a higher score in this section of the review.

In The Glass  8/10

Colour:  Pale yellow straw (perhaps a touch darker than one would expect from only two months in an oak cask)

Nose: Light fruity agave, hints of fine wood spices, peppery agave spice. As the glass breathes, the earthy somewhat punky agave scents become more prominent and a light sweetness of honey and vanilla appear. Scents of grilled pineapple and baked squash add to the fruitiness. Some scattered tea leaves add a touch of complexity.

In The Mouth 48/60

The delivery is softer than I was expecting as the spirit seems to have a bit of an ‘oily’ consistency which gives it some body. The herbaceous agave flavour is somewhat muted compared to other lowland tequilas I have sampled. There is a bit of peppery agave spice; but again this is somewhat muted. Hints of light oak, vanilla, and mild butterscotch accompany the mild but predominant fruity flavour.

I am a little perplexed as I remember liking this spirit much more during my previously tastings of the spirit several years ago. Perhaps the spirit has become milder in recent years. I mixed a Margarita, and felt the cocktail was missing some of the punchy character I was hoping for. My friends whom I invited to taste the spirit with me were less discriminating and thought it was just fine. Afterwards, I mixed some Palomas and Cantaritos  (see recipe below), and I felt these cocktails suited this Reposado spirit much better.

In the Throat 12.5/15

In the exit I notice more pepper and spice than in the delivery, and this heats the mouth and excites the tonsils just a bit. The finish features hints of oak and vanilla as well as perhaps a smidgen of butterscotch and scattered tea leaves.

The Afterburn 8/10

My recent examination of Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado has resulted in a drop in its overall score from a previous review seven years ago. My main takeaway is that the spirit seems to have lost some of its character in recent years. I like to taste punchy agave when I sip tequila; but it seemed as though the fruitiness of this spirit is being held back as is the spice and pepper.

My score 80.5/100 represents a spirit which we can sip, but one which would more probably be used as cocktail spirit.

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


Suggested Recipe

The Cantarito is a tall mixed serving where Orange and Lemon juice are added to the Paloma mix of to the mix of Tequila, Lime, and Grapefruit soda making this a refreshing highball to enjoy on your back deck during warm sunny days (and evenings).

It is customary to use grapefruit soda to complete the serving. If you want a more authentic Mexican serving, use Squirt which is commonly found south of the US border.

The Cantarito

1 1/2 oz. Jose Cuervo Tradicional Tequila
1/2 oz. fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz. fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz. fresh Orange Juice
3/4 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 Ratio)
4 ounces Grapefruit Soda

Shake the first five ingredients with ice
Strain into a tumbler filled with ice.
Complete with grapefruit soda.

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my 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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