Made from less than 100% blue agave, Jose Cuervo Especial Silver is not the best bottle from Cuervo, and not really even a good tequila.
Classification mixto unaged tequila
Distillery La Rojeña
Cask stainless steel
Still Type copper pot and column
It’s one of the more affordable tequilas on the market, with bottles available in the $20 price range.
Its more off-putting flavors are successfully masked in cocktails like a Margarita.
This is a mixto tequila, meaning it’s not made from 100% blue agave, which is what most tequila drinkers are accustomed to.
It simply doesn’t taste very good.
Nose: Quite grassy and a little herbaceous, with hints of sweet melon, underpinned by a persistent acetone aroma like nail polish remover
Palate: A bit of citrus, some herbaceousness, a little black pepper, some vanilla, all wrapped up in a strange, artificial bitterness
Finish: Short and mild; a not-particularly-pleasant artificial sweetness
Jose Cuervo is the best-known and biggest-selling tequila brand in the world, with a history dating back to 1795, but its reputation is somewhat checkered. It makes some excellent tequilas that are well-regarded by aficionados, notably its high-end Reserva de la Familia lines. But it’s also known for the cheap stuff pounded at frat parties, accompanied by lime and salt to mask the odious flavor—as well as the hangovers that accompany it.
Cuervo Especial is Cuervo’s bottom-shelf expression, and while it’s not entirely undrinkable, it’s certainly not recommended either. It’s a mixto tequila, which means that rather than being distilled from 100% blue agave, as most tequilas are nowadays, the blue agave distillate only needs to be 51% of the blend prior to fermentation. The remainder is usually cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. The agave is still present on the nose and palate, but it also tastes off-balance and a little artificial. Tequila is allowed to contain up to 1% of various additives, whether it’s flavoring like vanilla or chemicals like glycerin to create a smoother mouthfeel, without mentioning it on the bottle. Does Especial Silver definitely contain additives? No. Does it taste like it does? Yes.
Especial Silver is a very affordable tequila, going for less than $20 a bottle, and it makes a passable margarita. But there’s not much else good to say about it. Virtually any 100% blue agave tequila, including Cuervo’s own Platino expression, are preferable. Given the periodic agave shortages that crop up in Jalisco, at some point a brand will come up with a quality tequila mixto. Some would argue that El Tequilieño or Olmeca Blanco already meet that standard. But this isn’t it.
Any tequila that’s less than 100% blue agave (and greater than 51%) is considered a mixto. However, you’ll never see the “mixto” classification on a tequila bottle’s label, because it’s not required. Instead, look for the “100% blue agave” designation. If you don’t see it, then it’s a mixto.