Was There Really a Man Named Jose Cuervo?

29 08 2010

The answer is yes! The name is not just what makes your Playa drink delicious. Jose Antonio de Cuervo was the very first producer of tequila over 200 years ago, which makes his company Mexico’s oldest continuously running tequila distiller. His father had obtained the land for the company from the King of Spain in 1758 before Mexico became an independent republic. Jose Cuervo was the first to receive a permit from the King to produce tequila commercially. He received the permit in 1795, which originally was to allow him to manufacture mezcal wine, made from native Mexican blue agave plants. Blue agave grew best in the Mexican state of Jalisco, particularly near the village of Tequila. The plants juices were distilled twice and aged in oak barrels. The brew became known as the “wine” of Tequila.

By the early 1890s Cuervo family members were growing around 2.5 million blue agave plants on about 25,000 acres.

Blue Agave tequila plant

Cuervo’s son, Jose Maria Guadalupe Cuervo took over the company for his father and after his death, his son-in-law Vincente Albino Rojas renamed the Cuervo distillery La Rojeña.  Then down the family line, Jose Cuervo Labastida, Rojas’ son-in-law was the first to call the tequila made at La Rojeña, “Jose Cuervo” around 1905.

Cuervo Gold

Today the Cuervo family is legendary. Cuervo tequila has the highest sales of any tequila brand in the world. It accounts for more than one-third of all tequila produced in Mexico and over 40% of all tequila produced in the United States. This puts Cuervo on the top ten list of spirits sold alongside giants such as Bacardi and Smirnoff.

Cuervo’s biggest competitor is Tequila Sauza, which ranks first in overall sales in Mexico, but second to Cuervo in sales abroad. Tequila Sauza was founded by Cenobio Sauza who actually started out as a Cuervo employee but later left to establish his own distillery in 1873. They have been rivals ever since…

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