It’s really easy to get really cynical really quickly about a tequila brand founded by a self-described “serial entrepreneur and angel investor.” Because what venture capitalist hasn’t lifted themselves up by the bootstraps to eventually found their very own vanity tequila brand? Admittedly, founder Karan Khanna’s involvement is obfuscated by the roles of founding consultant Christian Navarro and brother-tequileros José, César, and Alvaro Aceves, of brand builder Casa Aceves. They are listed on El Cristiano’s website as “The Makers.”
The team has done a good job of building a “compelling” brand. Additive-free, beautifully presented with a large focus on the charitable arm of the business in Fundación El Cristiano, which appears to offer support to a variety of institutions throughout Mexico. But the tequila itself, distilled by Casa Tequilera de Arandas, which is behind a vast array of brands?
Both expressions sit at 80 proof. NOM 1499.
El Cristiano Tequila Silver – The blanco, made with (very young) 6-year old Weber Azul agave, is absolutely crystalline in appearance. If not for its slight stickiness in the glass you’d think it was tap water. This is high-pressure, autoclave-cooked tequila that allows a little of the raw, green minerality of the plant through on both the nose and palate. The fresh agave, featuring hints of honey butter and sage, honestly serves as a pleasant counterbalance to what is otherwise a very straightforward pour. It’s light, cooked agave all the way down. An unassuming tequila, incredibly well-suited for mixing if you can stomach the price point. B- / $60
El Cristiano Tequila Reposado – Aged 6 months in American oak barrels. This reposado is where the lineup starts to find its voice. The agave notes, both cooked and raw, continue to dominate the nose, but are backed by light, dried pineapple and Mint Milano cookies. In this context that aforementioned cooking process transforms into a bit of a boon, allowing the bright, honeyed flavor of the uncooked plant to hold its own in this expression. It’s bright on the front palate, mingling with gentle notes of toasted oak, warmed black peppercorn, and creme brulee. It’s unusually agave-forward and, while the finish is a bit of a letdown next to the tannic moreishness of its blanco sibling, it remains a well-rounded pour. Such that I’m really interested, rather than really cynical, in the prospect of El Cristiano’s extra aged tequila. Bring on the añejos. B / $70 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]