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Don Julio vs Jose Cuervo

Rebecca Hanlon
Last Updated: March 14th, 2023

When it comes to quality tequila, few brands are held in higher regard than Don Julio and Jose Cuervo. Both of these tequila producers have been crafting premium products for decades, and both of them have loyal followings that swear by their product’s superiority over the others.

For over 200 years, Jose Cuervo has held court as the king of tequila in Mexico and abroad, while Don Julio has only begun to reach international shores over the past few decades.

Both brands are beloved by tequila aficionados, but which one reigns supreme in the battle of Don Julio vs Jose Cuervo? Read on to find out more about these two titans of tequila and decide for yourself which one deserves the crown!

 Don Julio Vs Jose Cuervo – History

tequila shots

In 1942, Don Julio González embarked on his adventure into the world of tequila.

Soon after, he came to the conclusion that in order to produce tequila that stands out from the crowd, one must manage every step of the production process, beginning with the growth of the agave and ending with the bottling of the finished product.

He acquired his first distillery when he was just 17 years old after taking a loan from a wealthy Mexican merchant and eventually named it “La Primavera,” which is Spanish for “Spring.”

This would be the first step in his quest to create the legendary Don Julio brand, which would go on to become the first luxury premium tequila in the world.

In the year 1758, Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo received authorization from the King of Spain, King Ferdinand VI, to cultivate and harvest blue agave plants in the Jalisco area of Mexico.

His ancestors established the Taberno de Cuervo distillery and were among the first to make use of the blue agave; a plant with the unique ability to retain water in the distillation process.

Cuervo’s son José Mara was successful in obtaining a license from King Carlos IV to begin commercial production of “mezcal de Tequila” in 1795.

After that, in 1812, the family established in Tequila what is now considered to be the oldest operating distillery in all of Latin America: La Rojena.

How is Don Julio Made?

The Don Julio Tequila is made using 100% Blue Weber Agave, which is a variety that grows at a higher altitude than regular agaves.

These plants have a minimum of 8 to 20 years of growth before they are harvested, resulting in a mellow and rich agave flavor. Each agave plant is harvested by hand, cutting the leaves uniformly and leaving pineapple resembling piñas (heart of the plant) for cooking.

These piñas are further chopped and steam cooked slowly in traditional masonry ovens for up to three days to release sweet agave juice. The tequila is further fermented and aged in white oak barrels to achieve its distinct flavor.

How is Jose Cuervo Made?

Jose Cuervo is produced in a very similar way as compared to Don Julio. The tequila is made from the well-aged, hand-selected, 100% Blue Weber agave plants that are harvested, steam distilled, and fermented.

Then comes distillation, where the clear tequila is heated with a mixture of water and sugar, resulting in tequila with 40% alcohol content.

Don Julio Vs Jose Cuervo – How Are They Similar?

don julio
Image: don julio

Don Julio and Jose Cuervo are two premium tequila brands that have been family owned and operated since they were founded.

Both brands are distilled from 100% blue agave, which is the same type of agave used to make tequila. While both brands are renowned for their quality, they each have their own unique flavor profile that makes them a great alternative to other popular tequila brands on the market.

Both brands also have a close alcohol content of 39% to 40%.

Don Julio Vs Jose Cuervo – What Sets them Apart?

jose cuervo

As the name suggests, Don Julio and Jose Cuervo are two of the most popular tequila brands in the world today. Both tequilas are made in Mexico, where the spirit originated, and they’re both made from 100% blue agave.

But what sets these brands apart from each other? Let’s take a look at what makes each brand so special and which one you should buy if you’re looking to make the best margarita you’ve ever had at home!

Taste and Aroma

The first thing you notice about Don Julio tequila is its aroma. It’s hard to describe, but it has a sweet, slightly fruity aroma that’s not overpowering.

The taste is sweet and spicy with a lingering aftertaste. It has been described as having a smooth quality that is both complex and harmonious. It is smooth and easy to drink, but with a strong finish that leaves your mouth feeling clean and refreshed.

The oak barrel aging process paired with the deep richness of the agave plant creates a fusion of mild yet enticing flavors in Don Julio tequila.

On the other hand, Jose Cuervo’s aroma is a combination of citrus and mint, with a hint of spice. It’s not overpowering, but it’s certainly present.

The next noticeable thing is its flavor. The flavor is unique, but it doesn’t taste like any other tequila I’ve ever tasted. If you drink it neat, there’s no burn or aftertaste, which is good because some brands have an aftertaste that makes it hard to drink neat.

The last thing you’ll notice about the Jose Cuervo tequila is its finish, which is smooth and slightly sweet with just a hint of spice on the lips.


The price of tequila depends on the quality of the bottle and where you buy it. In general, premium brands are more expensive than budget brands. However, there are some brands that are cheaper than others.

In the case of Don Julio Vs Jose Cuervo, Jose Cuervo has a big range of finely crafted tequilas that are affordable and can also be found at grocery stores and liquor stores throughout the country.

The prices of Jose Cuervo vary with flavor but the average price ranges from $15 – $169.

Don Julio has been around for almost five decades and sells itself as a premium product at a premium price point. Don Julio is available in many countries around the world, including Mexico, Spain, and Portugal.

Don Julio is a luxury tequila and is more expensive as compared to its competitor. The prices of Don Julio also vary with flavor but the average price ranges from $48 – $412

Flavor Variations

When looking for a bottle of Don Julio vs Jose Cuervo, whether it’s for making a delicious mixed martini or enjoying it on the rocks, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the many choices.

Each tequila producer has a variety of flavors to choose from, each with a distinct taste. Here are some of the most popular flavor variations of both brands with a brief description to help you decide the best for yourself!

Don Julio

  • Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro Tequila – This special flavor was released as a celebration of the brand’s 70th anniversary and what makes it so unique is its charcoal distillation process, resulting in smooth and fine tequila.
  • Don Julio 1942 – This variation was made in memory of the original creator of the brand and aged for two and a half years. The tequila is rich with hints of cinnamon, and caramel and the aroma of vanilla on the nose.
  • Don Julio Añejo – This popular flavor is double distilled and is aged for 18 months in ex-bourbon casks, creating a rich and fruity spirit.
  • Don Julio Reposado – This particular flavor is made from hand-harvested blue agaves from Los Altos. This results in tequila that has more grassiness and earthiness, not suitable for people who like a sweet hint in their spirits.

Jose Cuervo

  • Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila – This classic variation is a great margarita ingredient and has a smooth taste with hints of sweetness, oak, spice, and vanilla.
  • Jose Cuervo Silver Tequila – This incredible flavor is made by traditional small batch methods used by Jose Cuervo nearly 200 years ago. The double distillation method infuses the tequila with a crisp and clear taste.
  • Jose Cuervo Tradicional Tequila – As the name suggests, this tequila is made with 100% Blue Agave, following the traditional methods of aging in oak barrels that produce a much more refined and smooth taste. It is best enjoyed chilled.

Uses in Margaritas/Mixed Drinks

three tequila shots

 If you’re wondering about the best way to drink Jose Cuervo or Don Julio, then you’ve come to the right place!

You can enjoy Jose Cuervo and Don Julio tequila in many different ways:

Sipping – This is probably the most popular way to drink it. You can mix it with some ice and a mixer. Or you could even sip it straight from the bottle. If you prefer a stronger taste, add some lime or lemon juice and enjoy!

Mixing – Another way to enjoy Jose Cuervo is to mix it with another spirit like vodka, gin, or rum. It’s also great for mixing with cola or club soda. The more you mix them together, the better they taste!

Shaking – One of our favorite ways to drink Jose Cuervo and Don Julio tequila is shaking it up with ice cubes! Not only does this make for a delicious cocktail, but it also gives you an awesome taste experience! You can also use this method when making margaritas or cocktails.

However, the best way to drink Jose Cuervo and Don Julio tequila are in a cocktail. The two brands have been around for decades, so there are plenty of delicious options to choose from.

The Cuervo Pina, Tequila Sunrise, Don Julio Sunrise, and Don Julio Paloma are a few of the most well-known mixed drinks that are made with both brands of tequila!

Don Julio Vs Jose Cuervo – The Final Verdict

At first glance, Don Julio and Jose Cuervo appear similar. They’re both mezcal – agave-based spirits made in Mexico. While this is true, both tequila brands have established a flavor profile that is distinct from each other on so many levels.

In the end, choosing the right tequila narrows down on your personal preference and the flavor you are looking for in your spirits.

Now that you are aware of what makes these two mezcals different, you’ll be able to tell them apart quickly and order with confidence on your next night out!

About The Author

Rebecca Hanlon

Rebecca has been a blogger for over 5 years, before that enjoying a number of jobs to fund her passion for travel. She's taught English as a foreign language, a part-time Barista, a waitress, and a tour guide.

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