Sip and Tell: Jose Cuervo's Rene Valdez

- by Selena Ricks

Rene Valdez has one of the most coveted jobs around. As Director of Training and Education for Jose Cuervo, he travels the world to educate the thirsty masses on the tasting profiles of Jose Cuervo's robust portfolio. He shares the story of the brand's vast history as the only tequila distillery of significant size that is still run by Mexicans who are all direct decedents of the Cuervo founder of 1758.

Tequila is an increasingly trendy subject as tequila-themed bars pop up in New York and Los Angeles, and new brands seem to launch almost as frequently as new vodkas come to the market. For Rene, it's an exciting time to be in the world of agave spirits.

"We are only scratching the surface as American consumers continue to explore the silver tequila category due to its mixability and of course through sipping it very quickly doing shots," said Rene. "But there are other amazing expressions like Reposado, Anejo and Extra-Anejo that still need to be discovered; therefore the growth of this category is still huge."

Rene got his start in the beverage industry while working on his MBA. He was a manager for Tecate Beer, which got him interested in what he calls "the adult beverage business." As he finished his Master's, he was given the opportunity to work with Moet Hennessy USA. Over the past five years, he has specialized in the tequila category, which led him to Jose Cuervo.

Cuervo is in the midst of a national launch of the Tradicional Silver, which was released last year to 19 markets in the U.S. Double-distilled in small batches derived from 100% estate-grown blue agave, Tradicional Silver is not aged in casks, but instead is bottled immediately, as silver tequilas are not rested.

"Tradicional Silver will answer two consumer needs we're seeing: a super-premium silver tequila, and a product with authenticity," said Rene. "The recent economic uncertainties have led our consumers to choose brands that reflect quality and authenticity. As this trend emerged, we saw the perfect opportunity to introduce Tradicional Silver to the U.S. market as it is Jose Cuervo's most historically authentic silver tequila, made from the original recipe that was created more than 200 years ago by Don Jose Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo."

As bartenders and consumers alike experiment more with tequila in cocktails beyond the margarita, Rene said another exciting way to explore the spirit is to sip it neat and pair it with foods. His favorite food to have with tequila?

"As a Mexican who lives in a Mexican household, pretty much everything that I eat," he said. "Of course, paired with the appropriate expression, either Silver, Reposado or Anejo." Be sure to say hello to Rene if you are attending the Manhattan Cocktail Classic in New York or Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans - and if you are lucky, you will enjoy some Jose Cuervo with him too.