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George Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila is the celebrity brand that birthed a thousand other celebrity booze brands, and with about three million cases sold a year now it dominates the agave spirits market overall. So the recent news that Casamigos expanded its lineup with a cristalino expression should only add to its potential to sell another few million over the coming years.
Clooney and his partners Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman founded Casamigos in 2013, and sold it to Diageo just four years later in a deal worth nearly a billion dollars. The new cristalino joins the lineup of blanco, reposado, and añejo tequila expressions, along with a mezcal that launched in 2019. Cristalino is an unofficial tequila category that is not recognized in the same way those other age statements are, but has exploded in popularity nonetheless with many major brands releasing their own expressions.
The term cristalino refers to an aged tequila that has been filtered to remove the color picked up from its time inside a barrel. So what exactly is the point? You basically have a tequila with the flavor of an aged expression that appears clear like a blanco, something that might appeal to bartenders who don’t want to alter the appearance of certain cocktails. But the process of stripping out color can remove some of the flavor as well, meaning that many brands wind up using additives to restore the notes of vanilla and oak that the tequila naturally picks up during maturation.
The new Casamigos cristalino starts out with a reposado (aged from two months to a year), while many other brands use añejo tequila (aged from one to three years). According to the brand, the agave pinas are slow cooked in brick ovens, and the spirit is double distilled and matured in American oak barrels (Casamigos used to be made at a distillery with a diffuser, and it’s possible that diffuser-made tequila is still used for the brand, but the language on the website describes these more traditional methods). Finally, the tequila is charcoal filtered “to restore the crisp, bright agave flavor found in our blanco tequila while maintaining some of the cask notes,” with tasting notes including vanilla bean, raisin, fig, and hints of agave.
Casamigos Cristalino (SRP $61) joins other new cristalino tequilas that have launched recently, including expressions from Cenote, Espolon, and even a mezcal from Contraluz that arrived last summer. You can find it available for purchase online now from websites like Total Wine.