Tequila is a drink with a rich history. Yes, contrary to popular belief, it has more of a history than making your clothes fall off.
A Brief History of Tequila
Tequila is a type of mezcal (which, if you haven’t tried you should). Tequila, however, has to be made with at least 51% blue agave, unlike mezcal (yes, there are several different varieties of agave).
And just like Champagne, tequila can only be made (legally, for it to be called “tequila”) in a few specific regions of Mexico. Within one of those regions is where the drink we now call tequila was born: in the town of Tequila. Not too long after the city’s founding, the drink was commercialized with the help of a man that went by a name that’s still known today: Jose Cuervo.
Today, there are five different kinds of tequila:
- Blanco: aged for less than two months (also called “silver” tequila)
- Joven: blanco tequila that is flavored with caramel coloring
- Reposado: aged in oak barrels for two months to 12 months
- Añjeo: aged in oak barrels for one to three years
- Extra añjeo: aged in oak barrels for at least three years
Having said that, you should know this: there will soon be a new category added to that list. In 2018, the Tequila Regulatory Council will add a category called cristalino. Cristalino is aged (like añejo) tequila that is filtered to strip the caramel color out of it.
The New Kid On The Block
The drink itself may be old, but there are a few newcomers trying their hand at crafting the perfect tequila. One of those companies is Volcan De Mi Tierra (which translates to “land of the volcano”).
They’ve recently come out with two tequilas. One is a blanco. The other is a cristalino. Here’s what I thought of them:
Age: By definition, blanco tequila (sometimes called ‘silver’ tequila) is always aged less than two months
Smell: Very sweet smelling, with main notes of melon/citrus, some herbal in there, and I don’t know if it’s just me but a hint of salt.
Taste: It goes down smooth, that’s for sure. I also get tastes of caramel. The finish is a bit spicy at the back of my mouth into my throat, but in a good way. It doesn’t burn.
Overall: Very easy to drink straight, on the rocks, or if you prefer, a shot. I would suggest it’s almost too good of a tequila to use in a mixed drink, but that’s ultimately up to you.
Age: By definition, cristalino tequila is aged 1-3 years (just like añejo tequila). It’s then filtered to strip the tequila of it’s coloring.
Smell: Honestly, the smell is underwhelming (compared to the blanco). I do smell, however, a little caramel and citrus. But you really have to get your nose in there to get that.
Taste: This is where it surprised me! The caramel was still there, but I swear there is a hint of chocolate in there somewhere. The finish is a bit spicy with some of the sweet caramel notes hanging around.
Overall: It’s not as smooth as the blanco. I think this would do wonderful in a margarita. It would also go nicely on the rocks.
They’re both delicious as far as tequila goes. Personally, I’d buy the blanco without blinking an eye for the price. The cristalino, which, again, is a brand new subsect of tequila, seems a bit expensive to me.
But tastes are subjective. You may like them differently than me. If you’re interested in tequila, but don’t know where to start, I would certainly recommend trying both of them for yourself and see which one you like better.