Fifteen years ago, Maestro Dobel did the unthinkable, coming from nowhere and creating a whole category of spirit — cristalino tequila. Maestro Dobel Diamond, as it was called at the time, was aged tequila (a blend of reposado, anejo, and extra anejo) that was filtered back to clear. It was different and exciting — and everyone else in the industry agreed. Now you can’t turn your head in a bar without your nose hitting yet another cristalino offering on the shelf. Cristalino, once exotic, is now kind of boring.
Somewhat miraculously, Dobel is still standing and thriving, so much so that the brand was even a sponsor at a recent Ferrari event I attended, so someone’s making money. The brand has expanded to other expressions, some cristalino and some not, but the original remains on the market basically unchanged. The name has been tweaked from Diamond to Diamante — it’s a Mexican product, after all — but otherwise the song remains the same: Reposado, anejo, and extra anejo, filtered back to (almost) clear and aged in Eastern European oak casks (a detail I perhaps missed the first time around). Oh — but the tequila has dropped dramatically in price. It’s barely half now what it cost in 2008.
So with that, 15 years on, let’s see if we can suss out anything new here.
Short answer: Not really. This still presents as an older-style cristalino, with plenty of anejo in the mix to give it a potent sweetness, vanilla and chocolate up front, creamy, with hints of butterscotch. There’s still ample, lingering, underlying agave here, though the greenery notes come across as pleasantly grassy and crisp — more baking spice than what you might think of as traditional, peppery agave character. The two halves meld well admirably, and it’s one of the reasons why Diamante tends to work really well in cocktails.
I think the palate still stands in lockstep with the aromatics, melding a Biscoff cookie-like sweetness with gentle notes of wet grass, lemongrass, and some white florals. Very creamy and soothing in body, it has a depth of vanilla that many anejo tequilas are lacking, finishing clean but sweet, hinting at almond extract, muddled mint, and just a touch of lemon.
Looking back, my abject surprise when faced with this new style of tequila obviously outweighed my tasting notes, but what I did put down on paper still tracks pretty closely with today’s experience. Dobel hit on a new — and winning — formula back in 2008, and it doesn’t seem interested in changing it. Smart move.
80 proof. NOM 1122.
A- / $40 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]