“They make that brand too?” It’s a common refrain in the gift shop of the Jose Cuervo distillery in the town of Tequila. The world’s biggest producer of the spirit is known for its worst brand, but it also produced 1800, Centenario, Reserva de la Familia, and now Maestro Tequilero. From my sampling from three bottles, it’s another winner.
This is a brand with a convoluted history. The original Maestro Dobel was an obscure side project at Cuervo, an aged tequila that still looked clear like a blanco. Why? I’m not sure anyone in the market really wanted that and I’m guessing the sales were minimal. There’s still a years-old website up for that incarnation, with a press release about Perry Farrell the James Addiction singer endorsing it. Odd all around. The “Dobel” part is gone, with just some elements of the bottle design remaining. If you see an old Dobel one, consider it a collector’s item.
Apparently Cuervo decided to get back to what it does best because now there are three versions of Maestro in much more traditional styles: silver (blanco), reposado, and premium añejo. Do we really need anything beyond that?
I got a chance to try all three recently at the big annual Mexican tourism fair, Tianguis Turistico. There were very mixed reactions among the people there who don’t drink this spirit neat on a regular basis, especially surprise that the añejo version was so good for sipping. That was my favorite of the bunch as well. It’s not quite going to transport you and move you the way Reserva de la Familia does, but it also costs about half as much: positioned in price between 1800 (usually $35 to $45) and the $120 and up Familia.
To my palate the reposado was terrific as well, a fine sipping tequila that hits all the right notes and feels well-structured. This is a brand being overseen by a master distiller with decades at the helm, and the long-term expertise shows. For me an expensive blanco seems like a waste: for most people they’re only going to use that in cocktails. But for those who prefer the raw, unaged taste of a good silver, this one goes through multiple distillations and is about as smooth as your going to get while still retaining plenty of spice and citrus from the agave.
In all three cases, you get a beautiful box and bottle, so this is a good one to give as a gift, especially for tequila lovers who have tried a lot of more famous brands already.
If you want, you can try your hand at blending your own batch of Maestro Tequilerio at the Cuervo distillery, on one of their special tours.