If you’re a serious tequila lover, your bar cart is adequately stocked with the agave spirit’s holy trinity: blanco, reposado, and añejo. But there’s an emerging category that’s piquing the curiosity of spirits enthusiasts: Cristalino, an aged tequila that’s filtered to remove the amber hue so that it looks like a crystal-clear blanco, but sips (and smells) like an añejo. These bottles pack deceptive amounts of depth.
Gran Centenario has become the latest brand to debut an ultra-smooth cristalino, which is the fastest-growing tequila category in the United States. With hints of baked apple and oak imparted from a brandy cask, Gran Centenario Cristalino (suggested retail, $79.99 for a 750ml bottle) is an especially good bottle to have on hand over Thanksgiving for sipping and remaking classic cocktails.
Gran Centenario uses añejo and extra añejo tequilas for its cristalino expression, which is a first for the historic family portfolio. The blended aged tequilas are finished in Calvados (apple brandy) casks for a minimum of two months. Traditionally, cristalinos are filtered through activated charcoal to strip away color, but Gran Centenario filters its liquid with Mexican silver to give it flawless clarity without altering the taste.
On the nose, the cristalino has sweet agave and caramel aromas with a touch of vanilla, oak, and apple. Tasting notes include cooked agave with hints of vanilla beans, baked apple, and oak. It’s bottled at 40% ABV.
“The hints of baked apple in this Gran Centenario Cristalino Tequila expression are a pleasant surprise, as it’s not a flavor we often encounter in tequila,” says Gran Centenario’s brand ambassador and head of advocacy, Jaime Salas.
He recommends drinking the cristalino neat or on the rocks with a lime twist to enhance the taste profile. But the beauty of the cristalino style of tequilas, he says, is their versatility. Given Gran Centenario Cristalino’s bright notes, it works well in refreshing cocktails like highballs with a seasoned twist, and can also be enjoyed in a more spirit-forward remake of an Old Fashioned—or this clearly inspired tequila Negroni.
Gran Centenario Cristalino Tequila Clear Negroni
2 oz Gran Centenario Cristalino Tequila
0.75 oz Lillet Blanc
0.25 oz ginger liqueur
Garnish: lime peel
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
Stir and pour into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lime peel.