Meet the Maker: Don Francisco

What is José Cuervo?

José Cuervo is the world’s most popular and oldest tequila brand. We’ve been making tequila for over 250 years with the same experience, handcraftsmanship, and recipes that have been handed down generation through generation. In fact, Jose Cuervo is still family owned (by the Beckmann family) to this very day.

All of our tequila has been produced in the town of Tequila, Jalisco, in Mexico since 1795 - we only select the best agaves for meticulous fermentation and distillation, and final processing. This means we make the world’s finest tequila.

How long have you been doing what you do?

I’ve been at José Cuervo for over 30 years.

When did you have your eureka moment?

When I launched José Cuervo Tradicional in 1985 to the market.

How did you become involved with tequila?

I studied Precision Mechanics then went to the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México to study Industrial Engineering and Die Casting.  Then in 1975, I became brand manager at the Bodegas Santo Tomas winery. It was established in 1888 in the Valle de Guadalupe in Baja, a Mexican region near California. It has the perfect conditions for growing grapes.

I stayed at Santo Tomas for around six years, learning everything there is to learn about tasting. I’ve always had a good palate and honed my craft there – even now, I still have a flair for wine. After that I left the winery and, in 1982, joined José Cuervo as manager for the Development of New Products.

At the La Rojeña distillery in Jalisco (part of José Cuervo) the team are involved in every part of the tequila making process and the amount I learnt from the workers is immeasurable. I was taught about the subtle differences in aromas created during each step of the production and distillation process. I think it’s this commitment to tradition and to detail that sets José Cuervo apart from others. I was - and still am - honoured to be part of José Cuervo.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a master blender?

I’m extremely proud to be maestro tequilero at José Cuervo but if I wasn’t, I’d probably be an oenologist or possibly a sommelier as I have a background in wine.

Tell us about someone influential that you’ve met along the way?

I’ve had so many amazing experiences and I have been so fortunate to work with the best names in tequila. I would say the person who has had the biggest impact on my professional life would be my sensei, Juan Beckmann.

If you had a super power what would it be?

The power to destroy poor production techniques in the tequila industry.

What’s been your biggest achievement?

My encyclopaedic knowledge. When it comes to tequila, there is very little I do not know.

Who would play you in a movie?

I’m not sure who would play me in a movie but I do have a plot idea! I imagine a film where the owner of an agave field and a tequila factory falls in love with a beautiful “Jimadora”.

Tell us something amazing about the tequila industry?

The tequila market has grown exponentially since the 90s. This growth allowed us to gain Mexico’s main market share.

Plus, tequila falls under the Declaration for the Protection of the Denomination of Origin (the Mexican law that oversees the protection of tequila). It is one of the few fine beverages and spirits that falls in this category and is protected, just the way Champagne is protected in France. It amazes me so few people know that tequila is protected in this way. Tequila deserves more recognition so this needs to change.

Do you have any unusual rituals?

Just one. Depending on where I am and who I am with, I like to drink tequila in the “caballito” glass, with salt and lemon or “sangrita”.

Other brands you respect?

In terms of tequila, I would say Gran Centenario and Reserva 1800 – great characteristics and good quality.  Gran Orendaín has a wonderful history, too.

Worst day at Jose Cuervo?

Thinking about it, I can sincerely say that I have never had a bad day at work.

Best day / achievement at Jose Cuervo?

The day when I was named master blender (maestro tequilero) and founded the Mexican Academy of Tequila Tasters.

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