Most tequila seems to be leaning into the fun, bright colors of traditional Mexican art. But while some manufacturers are plastering their labels with sugar skulls and roosters, Maestro Dobel seems to be going the opposite direction. They are a tequila whose branding exudes class and excellence, like a fine concerto wafting out of an opera house. But does the book match its cover?
There is no bigger name in the tequila industry than Jose Cuervo.
In 1758, Don José Antonio de Cuervo was granted a plot of land in the (soon to be Mexican) town of Tequila. Here, he would build a farm with his family where they would cultivate the blue agave plant that was native to the area and, in 1795, the family distilled and produced their first bottle of mezcal (side note for those who don’t quite understand the differentiation: scotch is to whiskey as tequila is to mezcal).
It would take some time for the Cuervo family to embrace the calling of distilling spirits, but by 1880 the family had started commercially producing their spirits for sale. Known originally as “mezcal de Tequila” (mezcal from the town of Tequila), the Mexican government eventually — after much lobbying — allowed them to designate their spirits under a unique appellation known simply as “tequila.” The very first bottle of Jose Cuervo Tequila rolled off the line in 1906 and a massive new category of distilled spirits was born.
The company would achieve a massive level of success, with roughly 1 out of every 5 bottles of tequila sold worldwide being Jose Cuervo. The business would remain in the family through the years, and by 1966 the company was owned by a relative named Juan Beckmann Gallardo. In 1989, the family sold 45% of the business to a distribution company which would eventually be acquired by Diageo, the British spirits giant. Diageo continued to distribute Jose Cuervo tequila and were in talks to acquire the remainder of the business from the family until talks fell through in 2012. Rather than try to find another distribution company, the Beckmann family decided to start their own distribution business called Proximo Spirits through which they would handle the entire process — from growing the agave to stocking shelves.
Proximo Spirits also produces the Kraken Black Spiced Rum, as well as Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey.
The Maestro Dobel brand was created in 2008 by the Jose Cuervo family to pay homage to Juan Domingo Beckmann Legorreta (“DOBEL” being a combination of the first elements of the last three names), eleventh generation leader of the Jose Cuervo brand.
Just like the other Jose Cuervo tequilas, this version starts with a crop of 100% blue agave. The agave plants are harvested and their leaves are sliced off, leaving the hard core behind. That core is then cooked for about three days in an oven to convert the plant material into sugar and then placed into large vats to ferment and allow yeast to convert that sugar into alcohol.
Once the fermentation is complete, what remains is a mildly alcoholic liquid that isn’t nearly pure or strong enough to be tequila. The next step in the process is to distill that spirit twice in pot stills, which concentrates the spirits and raises the alcohol level.
That newly made spirit is immediately bottled for the silver edition of this line of tequila.
This looks more like a vodka bottle than a tequila bottle… and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
In general, this is a straight walled cylinder that’s a little narrower and taller than a typical bottle. There’s a bit of a rounded shoulder, and then a medium length neck that’s topped off with a stylized wood and cork stopper.
The majority of the bottle is transparent, but there’s a bunch of text that has been embossed on the surface. The text isn’t really important, and honestly is a little frustrating to read from a distance (say, across the bar).
What labeling this bottle does have is primarily at the top and the bottom of the bottle in little strips. The main label at the bottom of the bottle has a blue background, with the “Maestro Dobel” name in white letters on a black placard.
Unless you squint and read the small print where it says this is a tequila, honestly everything about the branding says “continental European vodka” to me. From the lettering, to the prim and proper style… even the use of “maestro” (which most people associate with a classical music connotation), it seems like something from the old world instead of the new. Personally, my brain immediately associated it with Russian Standard vodka, whose tasting room is coincidentally pretty much the only place I remember visiting during a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia.
In short, it’s classy looking — but doesn’t feel consistent with the product (tequila).
The aromas coming off this glass are more well-saturated than I’d usually expect for a silver tequila, and to good effect. There’s the herbal agave note that I liken to fresh cut grass and a hint of citrus, which are the textbook components that you’d expect from a tequila. In this case, they just come across more cleanly and legibly than with other offerings.
Taking a sip, this is a little strange. Initially, all I’m getting is alcohol on my tongue. Not necessarily bad alcohol, but more like vodka. If anyone has had Jewel of Russia, it’s about the same experience here at first. The flavors do start to creep in around the aftertaste, with that herbal note coming first followed by a bit of black pepper spice. I don’t get quite as much citrus as I’d expect based on the aroma, but what does come through seems to be mainly in the aftertaste.
Generally speaking, it’s a pretty smooth sip with no bitterness or bite… but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of character to it either.
There are certain spirits where a bit of ice does good things. Toning down unpleasant characteristics or overpowering flavors, for example. But when the spirit is already pretty light, like we have here, the results typically aren’t stellar.
For this spirit, the addition of a bit of ice isn’t a knock-out punch. It isn’t the end of the world. Those herbal notes are still present to give some character to cocktails, along with a hint of that black pepper spice… but that’s about it. The flavors are a bit more muted and understated than before — although I will say that there’s an actual improvement in that the flavors do start immediately when you take a sip. There’s no delayed impact anymore.
From the beginning, this has been a pretty light flavored tequila. The notes that decided to show up for the party were both late and relatively demure. Those flavors further took a hit when we added some ice, and when mixed into a cocktail they practically disappear from the equation altogether.
In the margarita, I think I see a hint of the herbal aspects peeking around the corner of the citrus flavors, but that’s pretty much it. The margarita is a tough challenge, which is why we use it for our tequila reviews. And unfortunately, this tequila just didn’t do a great job.
There’s nothing wrong with this tequila. There’s no bitterness, no unpleasant flavors, nothing terrible. But despite the hoity toity bottle and branding, it didn’t knock my socks off either. The flavors are okay, but not well saturated. And when mixed into a cocktail, it’s practically indistinguishable from a light gin or a vodka.
|Maestro Dobel Silver Tequila|
Classification: Blanco Tequila
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $33.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 2/5
I wouldn’t recommend it. But I wouldn’t be mad seeing it on the shelf.