One can't talk about Cuervo Gold without talking about the headaches, vomiting, and grimaces it leaves in its wake. Encounters with the spirit have convinced millions that they want nothing to do with tequila never again.
In that sense, the Cuervo Gold may very well be the closest thing that exists in the spirit world to a Hitler mustache. Logically, it's just a configuration of facial hair, but the experiences that surround it like a stink cloud are so profoundly awful that the world has chosen to stay on the safe side and steer clear of it. Forever.
I bought a few tasters of Cuervo Gold as part of a blind experiment that I'll write up in more detail later on. The gist of the experiment was this: could a group of people pick out a reposado tequila made from 100% agave in a blind tasting where it was mixed with two other "gold" tequilas? The answer was a very clear and definitive yes. Partially, that was because of how incomprehensibly awful Cuervo Gold is.
As a quick primer from my short guide on tequila, anything labeled "Gold Tequila" really isn't. It's 51% crap-grade tequila mixed with 49% "neutral grain spirits," which are even worse. They're basically the unrefined alcohols that end up being used for vodka and gin, but minus the multiple levels of purification that tend to filter out the unwanted compounds. Cuervo also throws some artificial coloring in there to make you think the stuff has been aged, which of course it hasn't. In that sense, it's trickery in a bottle: you're not really supposed to know what this stuff is or where it comes from. It's basically hot dog meat in liquid form.
My friend Sarah had the best quote of the night in her attempts to describe Cuervo Gold. She said, "It smells unclean. It tastes unclean. It's like a moldy house." Sarah also mentioned that the spirit's aroma "slithers into your nose," and that the dominant tastes were cod liver oil and aspartame. All accurate descriptors.
Adam, my other friend present during the experiment, described Cuervo Gold as "a drinkable interrogation technique," and said the aftertaste reminded him of "a flat soda that someone left on a dashboard." As his face contorted like a gutshot cowboy, he said, "I'm really tired of this. And it's only the second sip." Again, I didn't tell anyone what this stuff was. They just drank it and the vitriol spilled out.
In that sense, it was nice to have two other people present in quantifying how ponderously bad Cuervo Gold is. It's a type of multifaceted awful that seems deliberately constructed to repulse humans. I agreed with Sarah in that there's a strangely fishy and oily quality about the aroma. I jotted down summer sausage and trout in my own notes, no lie.
When it came to the taste, the dominant quality was the bracing sensation of having a mouthful of aspartame. It infiltrates every corner of your mouth with its insidious artificial sweetness and sticks. Even in the most low-effort margaritas where you'd hope the stickiness of sour mix will bury everything wrong, Cuervo Gold can't help but give itself away. It's a particular kind of cloying and sour that doesn't go quietly.
What I'm basically getting at is this: it's not just you. Cuervo Gold is frighteningly awful. I wanted to gag the very first time I ever had a shot of this stuff straight-up, and as now a semi-experienced drinker I still can't find any positive qualities in it. Your margaritas deserve better. You deserve better. Please give Tequila a fairer chance.