Jose Cuervo is probably responsible for more headaches and ill-advised one night stands that any brand producing alcohol around the globe. The popularity of their Joven mixto, Cuervo Especial, means the brand defines the category for many of the folks who stand on the side of the bar that has comfy seats and plush carpeting.
While the brands heritage is firmly in cheap mixto tequilas, filling more than one varsity paddling pool with a communal margarita I am sure, they have also been in the 100% agave business for some time as well.
Reserva de la Familia represents the pinnacle† of the Cuervo range. It is made with spirit distilled from only the best part of hand selected piña and then aged in French oak for between three and four years. That much alone would make this a quality product, but wait, there’s more. The extra añejo tequila is then blended with material from the Cuervo family reserve, some of it up to thirty years old. The result is a very smooth product, with some incredible complexity and sweetness from the rest and the old drops, but also retaining a hefty earthy oomph that all good tequila should display. I doesn’t need ice, salt, mixers or to be downed in one go. It might not be the best tequila available on this blue-green earth, and certainly some pine on about its hefty price tag but I’m extremely happy to have a tot each night when I head home, and with only 17,000 bottles being produced each year, the price is probably relative.
It was first produced in 1995, to commemorate 200 years since the Cuervo family received a Royal warrant from the King of Spain to produce tequila. Settlers‡ had only arrived in Australia 7 years earlier, to put that into perspective.
The Reserva de la Familia comes in a rather handsome box, which changes each year. You can see the history here, not sure why some years get two, or three different boxes while others get one, but I’m sure if I keep drinking the tequila I’ll be able to work it out. Mine is the striking orange one, but my all time favourite would have to be the tiger in the picture above. Each one is designed by a local artist too, which I reckon is a pretty nice touch.
The use of older, retained vintages (while not a solera aging system) and the use of local artisans certainly seems reminiscent of another brand ion Diageo portfolio, the famed Ron Zacapa. It seems like a massive call, but I reckon the stuff in the bottle stacks up.
These guys have it online in Australia for $195. That said, you can find it online for around $90 U.S. and as the Aussie dollar hit parity today, the $100 difference might buy a reasonable amount of shipping… Let me know if you find a U.S. retailer who ships to this market.
† Well, almost the pinnacle. Check out the 250 Aniversario site for a really top notch and impossible to find product. You will need to register for an invitation code…
‡ Settlers… Convicts if we are really being honest…