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Jose Cuervo Tradicional (Reposado)

Review: Jose Cuervo Tradicional (Reposado)  86/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published February 14, 2013

According to the Jose Cuervo website, it all began in 1795 when Jose María Guadalupe de Cuervo was 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. By 1844, Jose 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 Jose Cuervo were transported across the United States border by donkey. Those exports have continued (although no longer by donkey), and now the Jose Cuervo brand is the best-selling tequila brand in the entire world.

All Jose Cuervo branded Tequila is made in the central Mexican town of Tequila, in the state of Jalisco. The Jose Cuervo Tradicional is produced from 100% blue agave, and aged (or rested) in oak barrels (for less than one year).

In the Bottle 4/5

I snapped a picture of my sealed Jose Cuervo Traditional Reposado last fall on my back deck, and that picture is shown to the left. The spirit arrives in a tall slender bottle which has a nice appeal; however, if I am honest I must admit that it is rather difficult to place on my tequila shelf which is constructed for the more typically short and squat tequila bottle. The ‘slender tallness’ of the bottle has the additional drawback of being a bit unstable requiring only a small jostle to knock it over.

The bottle is corked with a nice synthetic cork and the labeling is quite satisfactory. Overall the good outweighs the bad, although a shorter squat bottle would have garnered a slightly higher score.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When I poured the Reposado Tequila into my glencairn glass, I noted that the colour is perhaps a little darker than other Reposado Tequila spirits which I have reviewed. It is by no means dark, rather it resembles the colour of pale yellow straw. The initial scent from the glass is rather subdued as far as fruity agave scents are concerned, but I do detect a very light oak in the breezes and some peppery accents.

As I let the glass breathe the earthy agave scents become more noticeable, I seem to catch a very light scent of honey and vanilla behind the light oak, and we have perhaps a little grilled pineapple and scattered tea leaves in those breezes above the glass. Overall I would say the nose is inviting, but the herbaceousness of the spirit is somewhat subdued.

In the Mouth 52/60

The aroma of the Tradicional translates very well from the glass to the mouth. The delivery is quite soft in the mouth as the spirit seems to have a bit of an ‘oily’ consistency. The herbaceous agave flavour is somewhat muted (I am reminded of baked squash, and grilled pineapple with a light dusting of white pepper). Hints of light oak, vanilla, and honey accompany that mild, fruity agave flavour across the palate. Although the agave is mild across the palate, I am finding myself enjoying the spirit very much. As a tequila to sip, this is relatively smooth and appealing. As well, when I take a large swallow similar to a  ‘tequila shot’, that smoothness is much appreciated.

Going a little further with the spirit, I mixed a Margarita using my traditional recipe, and I was really impressed. The subdued flavours and the peppery finish really appealed to me in that particular cocktail. I tried a couple other recipes, The Scarlet Ruse, which is my variation of the more well-known Tequila Sunrise, and The Lonely Silver Rain, which is a recipe of mine which uses Tequila, grapefruit, and lemon juice to great effect. I even followed a suggestion from the Cuervo website and threw my bottle of Tradicional in the freezer overnight and sipped it ice-cold. I guess I am saying in my long-winded way that the Tequila is great for cocktails, and is acceptable as a spirit served neat.

In the Throat 13/15

It is in the exit that the pepper and spice reveal themselves fully. It is a warm, spicy finish that features some hints of oak and perhaps a smidgen of honey and scattered tea leaves.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado is very nice. Flavours of light oak and honey mix well with a mild agave flavour. The mild flavour profile worked well when I sipped the spirit. I also found the Cuervo Tradicional extremely nice for cocktails and in tequila shots.

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


Suggested Recipe:

The three recipes I mentioned in my review are all very nice with the Jose Cuervo Tradicional. I thought however, that I would explore the idea of the Tequila shot for my suggested recipe. Although it has become quite common to shoot tequila “with a little salt and lime”, another way to enjoy tequila shots is with cinnamon and a slice of orange. I choose to call this variation on the theme of tequila shots, Cinnamon Skin.

SAM_0595 Cinnamon SkinCinnamon Skin

1 oz Jose Cuervo Tradicional
large ice-cube

dash of cinnamon
orange wedge

Place the tequila and the ice into a cocktail shaker
Shake and strain into a chilled shot glass so that the spirit is very cold
Lick the pad of your index finger or thumb of one hand and sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon
Hold the chilled shot in your other hand.
Make a celebratory toast
Lick the cinnamon, shoot the tequila, and bite the orange wedge
Repeat as necessary (but in a responsible manner)!

(Note: This cocktail continues my 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 cocktails.)


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)

5 Responses to “Jose Cuervo Tradicional (Reposado)”

  1. Nate said

    I drove down to Tequila a few years ago and discovered this Cuervo product as a happy coincidence. Its my go-to tequila for eveyday drinking and mixing (replacing Sauza Hornitos). Cuervo Traditional is the product that is actually manufactured in the tour distillery in Tequila. Its actually a pretty decent spirit, especially given the price. I really enjoy mixing up a small pitcher of sangrita and drinking down a fifth of Tradicional with 5 or 6 friends.

  2. Josh Miller said

    Wow — Surprised to see such a high rating on this one, Chip! Perhaps you’re getting better Tradicional up there in Alberta than here in California. I bought a bottle of this about a year ago because it was on sale at the local Safeway, and boy did I regret it. I ended up pouring it down the drain! There are far better reposados at a similar price point for me–Cazadores and Centenario among them. Cheers

    • Hey Josh

      I guess we finally have a difference of opinion on one of these. I actually found the flavour of this Tequila rather smooth although unassuming (maybe timid would be a better word.) But it revved up in the cocktails, and I just loved it in that format. Maybe my score crept up a bit because I am such a cocktail geek!

  3. Albert said

    Hi Chip, It is interesting that your bottle of JC Tradicional Reposado looks different from the one I purchased at Cancun Duty Free. My was stating something like “212 Anos” (since the production started) and was at about 38% ABV. Both pieces of information are not visible on your picture. Unfortunately for me, it was the only tequila that I could not tolerate even in cocktails. And I have tried quite a few reposados before and enjoyed them very much. When I asked my friend, who visits Mexico frequently and loves tequila how is it that this is one of the most popular tequilas in Mexico, he told me that the secret is to keep it in freezer and drink it as shots straight from the freezer. Your bottle was I guess better than mine. So, I will try it again in the future, to see what is special about it that so many people like it.

    • Hi Albert, you apparently had quite on old bottle. My bottle at the very bottom says “Handcrafted for 216 years”, which means that your bottle was a full 14 years older than mine. As well my bottle is the standard 40 % abv. It is no wonder our two bottles seem to be a little different.

      If you look at the cocktail i suggest at the bottom of the review you will see that I am using very well chilled Tequila fort my shots, as recommended by your friends in Mexico.



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