Gran Centenario Reposado Tequila is a tasty, budget-friendly sipper, though the spirit works even better in elevated Margaritas.
Classification reposado tequila
Company Proximo Spirits
Distillery Casa Cuervo S.A. de C.V.
Cask new American oak
Still Type column (double distilled)
Proof 40% ABV
Aged four months
An old-school reposado tequila with a heritage
Works both as a sipper and to elevate classic tequila cocktails
Fans of modern tequilas may not appreciate the agave/oak/alcohol character.
It’s produced to serve a mass audience, so purists may balk at autoclave cooking.
Color: Deep gold
Nose: Aromatic and rich, with notes of agave and fruit (rather than an herbaceous lowland agave quality). Hints of kiwi, gooseberry, and a light caramel character.
Palate: Opens round and rich (some might say “smooth”), with a hint of spice. At the mid-palate, it is medium-bodied with an emphasis on agave, toasted oak, and a trace of demerara sugar. At the back of the mouth, the fresh agave character continues to dominate, with a citrus/lemon zest vibe at the back of the throat along with the spice/bite of oak.
Finish: A long, lingering finish with a bit of oak “bite,” grass, citrus, orange peel, and black pepper
The company has roots going back to 1857 and tavern owner and distiller Lazaro Gallardo. While a lot has changed for the brand (it’s now managed by Proximo Spirits and distilled at Casa Cuervo, but is still considered family-owned), it has a lot more historic credibility than, say, a celebrity vanity brand. “It’s still the number-one seller in Mexico” says Jaime Salas, an agave advocacy leader at Proximo Spirits, which handles the brand in the U.S. “While Mexico was blanco-tequila-focused for the most part, say, about seven years ago, these days reposados are very popular.”
The first iteration of Gran Centenario dates to 1895, named as a nod to the then-upcoming centennial for Mexican independence. Salas insists it's still the same recipe behind today’s bottles, but clearly some stuff had to change: the agave now cooks in an steam-pressure autoclave (it’s first still milled with a roller, like in the old days), is fermented in huge steel tanks, and aged in new charred oak instead of the ex-bourbon barrels popular with many distilleries. Salas says Gran Centenario still harvests its highland agave at 10 to 12 years (many lower-end brands will harvest younger plants to save money in production). Obviously, the scale of production is much, much bigger.
Intriguingly (especially given its reasonable price point), Gran Centenario incorporates a blend of batches and ages in its tequila to create its distinctive flavor profile. While that seems like a technique ordinarily used by higher-end brands to add complexity (or to accurately claim that extra-aged product is incorporated into a younger non-age statement spirit), it’s something this tequila label does as a matter of course. It also means that what goes into the reposado and anejo bottles isn’t necessarily the same juice that was in the plata and simply tossed in a barrel for a while.
The tequila is versatile, tasty as a sipper and a bit-more-complex component in traditional tequila cocktails. On the nose, it’s aromatic and rich, and on the palate it’s relatively easy-drinking without being bland: agave-forward, with notes of spice, tropical fruit, and oak. What you find particularly intriguing is comparing this tequila with some of the recent labels that have been released: The new product seems to have a heavy-handed emphasis on sweetness and notes of banana and honey (whether this happens naturally or via additives is a topic for another time). Gran Centenario manages to find a balance between some of the brasher old-school tequilas and the modern “soda pop” styles. Here, agave is front-and-center at all times, but the relatively lengthy aging time for the reposado—along with the other elements of harvest, distillation, barreling, and blending—result in a complex spirit with a hint of sweetness and an agave-fruit character.
In 2020, Gran Centenario was named the official tequila of the Mexican National (Soccer) Team.