I recently tasted Volcan de mi Tierra’s blanco tequila, having visited their distillery, and thought it was one of the best blancos I’ve tasted in years.
Just to be sure I’m doing a comparison tasting with Volcan’s other style, cristalino. Tasting the blanco again it’s everything I thought about it – aromatic, citrus, floral, with a dash of jalapeno pepper. It’s definitely superior blanco.
So what about the cristalino? It’s in a similarly stylish bottle, with the Tequila Volcano in the shape of the base. But instead of the blueish tinge to imply the purity of the blanco tequila, this bottle has a very light brownish/straw tinge. It’s incredibly attractive, and the two bottles side by side look terrific on top of the liquor cabinet.
So what is cristalino tequila anyway? Tequilas are blanco (white/silver), reposado (rested), añejo (aged) or extra añejo (extra aged). Well, cristalino is a style of tequila that some distillers (including Volcan, of course) are pushing to be included as a new category of tequila.
It’s an añejo or extra añejo tequila (or in this case a blend of the two), which is then filtered, usually through charcoal, to remove some of the color that it’s picked up in the barrel. Charcoal filtering is also usually the way most distillers filter vodka or bourbon or whiskey, to purify and concentrate the flavors.
In the case of Volcan’s cristalino, their añejo tequila has been aged in ex-whiskey barrels and the extra añejo in former cognac barrels. Does that sound mouthwatering or what?
Volcan Cristalino Tequila
Sniffing the cristalino after the blanco shows a distinct difference. The cristalino is, by the way, over 50% more expensive than the blanco, at $70 compared to $45. On the nose it’s more floral and fruity. It’s obviously picked up aromas from being in the barrel, but it has a warm and more rounded, richer, scent to it than the blanco (which is obviously good to begin with).
Sipping the cristalino, the effect is similar. It’s more subtle, it’s floral, with a spicy/peppery edge to it. There are hints of vanilla and chocolate too. It smells like it would go good poured over some vanilla ice cream. (Part of me thinks that’s a waste of good spirits, but part of me loves it when I do it.) The peppery notes linger as you swallow it, but there’s still a sweetness about it, and a smoothness. It’s fiery but not burning.
This is one heck of a tequila. Is it worth 50% more than the blanco? You bet. I’ve a feeling those two bottles will soon be standing side-by-side on my liquor cabinet… but empty.
Visit the Volcan website