Why You Should Consider Sipping Cristalino Tequila

It isn't every day that we see a new genre of alcohol. Sure, new brands come and go, but entirely new classes of alcohol aren't quite so free-form. In the tequila world, you have blanco, reposado, and añejo. But since 2009, there's a new kind of tequila in town: cristalino. It was created by Juan Domingo Beckmann, CEO and 11th-generation family member of Jose Cuervo, with the launch of a new brand, Maestro Dobel Diamante

Tasting Table reached out to Jaime Salas, Head of Advocacy, Agave at Proximo Spirits (the owner, producer, and distributor of both Jose Cuervo and Maestro Dobel, as well as several other major brands) to learn more about cristalino. Salas told us, "This fast-growing subcategory features aged tequilas that go through a special filtration process that removes the color while producing a liquid that's complex in flavor and ultra-smooth." In this sense, cristalino is an añejo with a twist. Normally, añejo is a golden-brown color, but cristalino is clear like a blanco. The special filtration process involves running the aged tequila through charcoal. In the future, cristalino tequila may be synonymous with filtered tequila. The best way to savor any spirit's flavor profile is to sip on it, and cristalino is no exception.

There are only a handful of options out there. Some, like Don Julio 70, are labeled as añejo, so it's safe to say that this new breed of tequila is still in its infancy. Only time will tell if it manages to find its legs and secure longevity. Some might call it a marketing ploy, but it's nice to see experimentation all the same.

How to serve cristalino

Speaking generally, Salas said, "These tequilas are best enjoyed on the rocks." On the other hand, Salas also told us that certain cristalinos are "perfect for high-energy cocktails or mixed with sparkling soda and lime juice." Ultimately, how you drink your alcohol is up to you. A good bartender probably wouldn't recommend hiding the spirit's flavor behind a mixer. Like añejo, cristalino has been aged to heighten the quality of its flavor. If you're going to spend the extra money on a high-shelf spirit, common wisdom would serve it in a way that highlights what makes the spirit itself so good.

If the burn is too strong or the flavor too intense when drinking cristalino straight, adding a single ice cube can open up the drink's persona. Purists may get upset, but they're in the minority on that one. The point of sipping your drink is to enjoy it and give yourself the opportunity to notice the little details, not punish yourself for the sake of some vague sense of formality.