The Best-Selling Tequila In The World Is A Classic

Of all the spirits out there, the world is getting more and more excited about tequila, and the tequila category is growing faster than any other. The most popular brand is one that you have probably already heard of — Jose Cuervo — and that is by a long shot. To illustrate, in 2022, Jose Cuervo sold 5.07 million, nine-liter cases in the United States (per Statista). The runner-up, Patrón, only sold 2.8 million cases — though the company does sell the most popular premium tequila.

There are several product lines in the Jose Cuervo family, but its Especial tequila is the one that tops the charts when it comes to global sales. The bottle comes in a Gold and Silver version, and both are available for about $23 for a 750 milliliter bottle. These are actually both blended or mixto tequilas, meaning that they are not made from 100% pure blue Weber agave. The labels for both say that blue agave is used, but the lack of specificity indicates that the agave nectar is co-fermented with cane sugar or corn syrup during fermentation and distillation. This is typically in a ratio of 51% agave to 49% sugar.

The history of the Jose Cuervo distillery

Tequila is a version of one of many agave-based ferments and spirits that have been consumed by indigenous people for thousands of years in the region now known as Mexico. Beginning sometime in the 1400s or 1500s, it was Spanish colonizers who broadened the reach of mezcals and created distilleries to produce and profit from the native spirit. Basically, mezcal encompasses a broad range of agave spirits, and tequila is just one of those.

In 1758, the Jose Cuervo distillery was founded by Spaniard José María Guadalupe de Cuervo in Tequila, Mexico. Within a few decades, that tequila was being distributed. This was the first commercial tequila distillery, meaning they were able to sell and ship individual bottles on a large scale. In 1852, Jose Cuervo distillery exported the spirit to California. The rest is history, so to speak, and Jose Cuervo remains hugely popular in the United States.

As for tequila's preferred cocktail, the margarita's origin story is missing some pieces. The invention can be attributed to several different people depending on who you ask, but Jose Cuervo endorses bartender Johnny Durlesser of Tail O' The Cock in Los Angeles, California as the creator back in 1938. Of course, the story goes that Durlesser was pouring Jose Cuervo.

What does Jose Cuervo Especial taste like?

Because Jose Cuervo Especial is blended, this may not be the best choice for drinking straight-up. These sorts of tequilas often have extracts, sweeteners, or additives to help dull the sharp edges, but they can still taste quite harsh to many people. However, when it comes to budget-friendly booze and mixing up cocktails for a crowd, Jose Cuervo Especial will do the trick.

Jose Cuervo describes the taste of the Especial Silver as "equally crisp and clean with subtle blue agave notes and a warm and smooth finish," and the Especial Gold has a "sweet, subtle agave flavor [with] hints of oak and vanilla." Go for the Silver tequila when you want a bright, zippy taste like in Ina Garten's margaritas, which have some extra citrus in the mix. Opt for Especial Gold when you want to go bold and upgrade your margarita game with smoky grilled lemons. Or keep it classic — both varieties are particularly well-suited for a margarita on-the-rocks or a refreshing blended frozen drink.