Jose Cuervo Black & The Education of a Tequila Drinker

jose cuervo blackHello,

As you know Jose Cuervo quit making their Black Medallion label product.
Could you recommend a close match that I can get here in Tennessee?

The description: Jose Cuervo Black
Color:        Deep Amber Hue
Aroma:    Toasted oak, cinnamon, red apple, cocoa, coffee
Flavor:    Sweet, toasted oak, subtle agave notes
Finish:    Warm and smooth

What is the real reason they quit making it?



cabo wabo anejoHi, Brian!

Jose Cuervo Black was an experiment that didn’t prove fruitful for Jose Cuervo so they scrapped it.  They were going for the Jack & Coke drinkers with this product.

You see, Jose Cuervo Black was a “mixto” tequila which means it is a very poor quality tequila to begin with.  The best tequilas are made with 100% Blue Weber Agave.  (And did you know that 100% agave tequilas will NOT leave you with a hangover the next day?  True story.)

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For Jose Cuervo Black, they used 51% agave and 49% other sugars in the distilling process.  That could have been molasses, cane sugar, corn syrup or all of the above and others I didn’t mention.  (By the way, all those other sugars used in the 49% will give you a muther of a hangover!)

casa noble anejoSince Jose Cuervo Black was an “anejo”, it would have been aged in a barrel for the minimum period of time (back then, I believe it was about 12 months but the regulations can change).  It usually takes longer than 12 months to create an anejo tequila that dark (it gets its color from the barrel) so they likely pushed the allowable limits and added some heavy caramel color to it.

All in all, Jose Cuervo Black wasn’t a well-made product for the discerning drinker and, quite frankly, you deserve better.  Life is too short to drink bad tequila.

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So here’s how you’ll find an awesome replacement for that less than stellar tequila:

  • partida tequila anejoGo to your local liquor store.
  • Go straight to the Tequila section.  I know Tennessee is whiskey country but they’ll have a few tequilas.
  • A clear bottle always tells the truth so zoom in on the dark tequilas in clear bottles.  (Skip the Patron, Sauza and Margaritaville brands.  These are not the tequilas you’re looking for!)  You should be safe with any of the dark bottles I’ve included on this page.
  • Once you’ve found the dark juice, look for the words “Anejo”, “Extra Anejo” or “Extra Aged”.  If you can’t find clear bottles, you’ll just have to trust your label reading.
  • When you find an anejo or extra aged, read the label carefully.  If it was made with 100% blue Weber agave and the price is right for your budget, pick it up and take it home.  Now don’t be fooled by those labels that say “made with Blue Weber Agave”.  Those bottles are telling you lies of omission – they’re mixtos (they used mixed sugars like I mentioned above).  You want 100% Blue Weber Agave, top quality, no-hangover tequila so don’t settle for anything that doesn’t say 100%.[Tweet “You want 100% Blue Weber Agave, top quality, no-hangover tequila so don’t settle for anything that doesn’t say 100%.”]avion anejo tequila
    • Don’t open the bottle as soon as you get home.  Let it rest.  A good tequila is like a good wine.  Let it rest and come around to room temperature before you pop the cork.
    • NEVER put good tequila in the freezer.  That’s a dirty trick picked up by Patron from the vodka industry.  If you put a bad vodka in the freezer, you won’t really taste how bad it is.  People like to do that with Patron Tequila because they think it’s cool.  All it does is hide the lousy flavor.  (Yes, I said that.  I can tell you from experience that there are many tequilas out there that kick Patron’s butt in the flavor department.)
    • OK, so you’ve got a 100% Blue Weber Agave Anejo Tequila and you’re ready to break that seal.  You might think you’d prefer to mix it with Coke or whip up a margarita but humor me here.
    • Pour an ounce or two into a glass straight (a snifter or champagne glass if you have it, but a lowball glass will do too – not a shot glass and not over ice).peligroso tequila anejo
      • Forget the salt and lime too!  Salt on the rim of a glass is a bartender’s trick to keep you thirsty.
      • Lime after a shot is just to mask the taste of the bad tequila you just swallowed.  This tequila will be different.
      • Now give it a few minutes to breathe and let the alcohol scent diffuse.  Feel free to swirl it around in the glass a bit.
      • After it has had a little time to breathe, take a whiff of it.  A good anejo will usually smell a little woody and then you might even pull out some other scents like anything from cherries, vanilla, apples and citrus fruits to cinnamon, clove, caramel, mint and coffee.  Each anejo is its own beautiful adventure.
      • When you’re ready, take a sip (don’t shoot it, this is sipping tequila).
      • Roll it around on your tongue, swallow, and then take a deep breath.

tonala tequila anejoEnjoy!

That tequila was a long time coming – seven or eight years for the agave plant to grow to just the right size, the baking time for the pina (the heart of the agave), the time it takes to go through the distillation process at least twice, and then aging in the barrels.  A long road for sure.

After you’ve given it its due and sipped it straight just once then feel free to use it in mixed drinks if you must.  If you found one you like, you may just come over to our way of thinking and start sipping it straight.

Tequila is a very special spirit.  You can’t make it with just any old mash.  I hope you’ll grow to appreciate it just as much as we do here at Tequila Aficionado.


Lisa Pietsch

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Look for more from Lisa on The Education of a Tequila Drinker as she takes us along on her own journey of discovery with tequila.

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