Getting to the Heart of Jose Cuervo – An Interview With Tequila Educator Oli Pergl

Tequila fans rejoiced, as Jose Cuervo, the world’s leading tequila brand, presented Tequila, Tacos and Tales, hosted by Tequila Educator Oli Pergl, an evening of exploration into the world’s leading tequila brand.

Taking place last Tuesday, in Medley, Dublin, cocktail lovers enjoyed an evening of contemporary Mexican food and drinks, with all cocktails made with Jose Cuervo Tradicional® 100% agave tequila.

The tequila that founded the category, Jose Cuervo Tradicional celebrates a family tradition started more than 200 years ago, making it the perfect partner for the best tasting margaritas and cocktails.

Guests enjoyed a Cuervo Squeeze on arrival, ahead of a masterclass with Pergl. He took them on a tequila journey from the agave fields of Mexico to the Jose Cuervo distillery, La Rojeña, Latin America’s oldest active distillery, to learn all there is to know about the drink that’s gaining massive popularity internationally.

The crowd savoured a tasting of Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver and Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado, followed by margaritas and palomas.

Tequila lovers finally sampled the irresistible Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia®, the Cuervo family’s award-winning 100% agave extra-añejo tequila, with dark chocolate, revealing its great flavour complexity and the rich taste of the agave in this exceptionally rare and exquisite tequila.

Describe your role with Jose Cuervo?

Since the inception of my role as Tequila Educator for Proximo and working very closely with Jose Cuervo, my job has been life-changing! I travel the country teaching bartenders about one of the oldest spirits from Latin-America – Tequila.

I host masterclasses and trainings, incorporating the many different brands in the Jose Cuervo portfolio. In my line of work, I have had the opportunity to host food-pairings and dinners to showcase the versatility of tequila and how best to enjoy it. This is my real passion as it gives me the opportunity to really showcase what Jose Cuervo has to offer.

Another aspect of the job that I love is travelling frequently to the home of Tequila in Mexico, where I get to experience the distillery first hand, gain more knowledge and bring back those stories to share in my training sessions.

What makes Jose Cuervo stand out from other drinks brands?

Jose Cuervo owns the largest holdings of agave in the world, nestled in rich, volcanic soil in the town of tequila. Caretakers, called “Jimadores,” cultivate and harvest the agave. Jose Cuervo plants the agave and they take, on average, seven years to grow and reach maturity.

Once the agave has been harvested and pruned, the agave’s cores or “piñas” are sent to La Rojeña, the oldest distillery in Latin America. The cooking of the piñas refines the taste of the tequila.

Eight hours after cooking, the piñas are taken to mills for grinding and to extract a juice, known as must. This juice is then fermented and distilled which creates the clear liquid we know as silver tequila.

It’s at this stage, Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver is bottled, whilst our aged tequilas go on to be rested in oak barrels; Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado is 100% blue agave which has been aged in oak barrels for at least two months, to give it the smooth and subtle complexity that aficionados seek.

Reserva de la Familia, is aged in French Limousine and American oak barrels for three years, has an amber colour and great flavour complexity.

Jose Cuervo has such a rich and varied history. Is there a particular moment that really stands out for you?

One of our expressions, Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver, the first 100% blue agave tequila, is still made using the original tequila recipe created by José Antonio de Cuervo himself more than 200 years ago. The recipe and process have been passed down and upheld by a family of entrepreneurs, inventors and risk-takers.

What tequila trends have you been noticing lately?

In recent years, we’ve seen a trend towards premiumisation across the spirits industry in general but this trend has had a major impact on the tequila category.

There has been a focus on 100% blue agave tequilas and a real interest in high end, rested or aged tequilas, such as reposados, añejos or extra-añejos, which typically rest in oak barrels anywhere between three months (for reposados) to over three years (for extra-añejos).

As consumers become more educated, a new class of connoisseurs begin to emerge, who demand more sophisticated expressions. Picking up on the subtle flavour tones that come through the aging process has become the mark of true tequila knowledge.

Finally, the pinnacle of tequila sophistication is in the exquisite taste of Reserva de la Familia, an exceptionally rare extra-añejo, produced in small quantities, hand-selected from the Cuervo family’s private collection. This expression is made entirely of tequila aged over three years in American and French oak barrels.

Are Margaritas still the number one tequila drink?

This simple concoction of tequila, citrus and sweetener is stealing the hearts of people all over the world, if Instagram is anything to go by (currently, there are over 5 million #margarita tags).

Whether you like yours frozen, on the rocks, salt, or no salt, sweet or spicy, this cocktail is so versatile, that bartenders continue to experiment with it. Its popularity is only set to grow and along with it, that of its base spirit, tequila.

My favourite margarita is made using Tradicional 100% Agave Silver; it is a pure, clean, agave-led tequila that I always use as the benchmark for comparing other tequilas against.

It is the perfect representation of the Blue Agave in the Tequila region where it’s produced, with its subtle peppery and citrusy notes and is incredibly versatile when creating cocktails such as the classic margarita.

INTERVIEW BY SARAH GLASCOTT

Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.

Named Best Break Out Travel Writer at the 2018 Travel Media Awards, Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.

A big people person, especially when it comes to hearing other people’s stories, Sarah loves interviewing chefs, food producers and more.

Sarah Glascott Sarah Glascott

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