Talking Tequila and Art with the CEO of Jose Cuervo
In the 26 years Juan Domingo Beckmann has worked at Jose Cuervo, he’s seen tequila transform from the stuff of frozen margaritas to a sophisticated sipping spirit. Today, as chief executive officer of Casa Cuervo SA and the 11th generation of the family to own and operate the brand, he maintains its more-than-250-year legacy while also introducing limited editions and the company’s first mezcal. I spoke with Beckmann at the Cuervo estate, where he was celebrating the launch of the latest edition of Reserva de la Familia extra añejo.
Robb Report: You’re the 11th generation of the Cuervo family to make tequila. Was it a given that you were going into the family business?
Juan Domingo Beckmann: I think they wanted me to be in the family business, but they didn’t push me to be there. At one time I started a chain of Mexican restaurants in Europe. I didn’t like it, so I sold my part and went into the family business. I realized after the restaurant experience that this is what I like. I love this business. When I was a kid, I used to work here in the summer, but that doesn’t count!
RR: You’ve seen the tequila industry change immensely. How do you think it happened?
JDB: Tequila has become an international premium spirit—as it should be—and this is just the beginning. The U.S., Mexico, and a little bit of the U.K. are starting to appreciate the super-premium tequilas—the diversity between white, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo; the different woods; the different regions. In the U.S. there’s a lot of sophistication now, especially in the big cities. This is just the beginning. In 20 or 30 years, tequila is going to be a very powerful category in spirits.
RR: When you drink tequila, which expression is your go-to?
JDB: My go-to is Reserva de la Familia extra añejo, because this is the pinnacle of my family’s collection. It’s very special to me because this is the tequila that, for generations, my family shared only with our extended family and special friends in our cellar in La Rojeña. In 1995 we decided to bottle it and share it with the world, and work with Mexican artists to adorn the box each year with their artwork. The marriage of two different barrel-finished extra añejo tequilas—American and French oak barrels—gives this spirit richness, depth, and a smoothness unlike any other.
RR: What makes a really magical extra añejo?
JDB: The wood cannot be too powerful. You have to keep the agave there, and not have the wood hiding the agave. It has to be nicely balanced. With Reserva de la Familia, you can still taste the agave.
RR: Do you have a favorite tequila cocktail?
JDB: I am a purist with tequila, and enjoy a glass of Reserva de la Familia over one large rock of ice with an orange peel, like a twist on an Old Fashioned. It enhances the flavors of the tequila without taking anything away. I’m also partial to a Jose Cuervo Tradicional Paloma cocktail for refreshment during the daytime.