When a bottle of Tequila Cosmico Cristalino appeared in my all-inclusive resort minibar recently, I was intrigued and looked forward to trying out something new. I got a bit of a strange surprise when I popped it open.It’s always a joy to discover a new tequila brand and have it be a happy surprise. That’s the case with Tequila Cosmico Cristalino, one I had never heard of before but that I can now recommend. It is a bit of a strange one though…Right off the bat, this brand scored a Gold and a Silver at the prestigious Brussels Spirits Selection blind tasting competition in 2021, which is not an easy feat. It is aged for 13 months in new American oak barrels and it’s clear from the packaging that they’re aiming for an upscale clientele. While the plastic top with a silver-colored tape band seems kind of cheap, the bottle itself is thick and heavy glass with some heft to it and the black bow around the neck is a nice touch.Barrel-Aged Tequila That Doesn’t Look AgedThere’s something that is not quite what it seems with that clear liquor inside though. As with the Don Julio 70 I reviewed before, this one is kind of a fake-out. When I first poured it, I thought it was a blanco tequila because, well, that’s what it looks like. I purposely didn’t look at the label or the website because I wanted my first impression to be reasonably blind.If I were blind for real, however, I would have known in a second that this was an añejo because that’s what it tastes like. It was way too smooth and mellowed-out to be an unaged spirit, so something was off.I’ll readily admit that I seldom drink blanco tequila straight unless I’m doing some kind of formal tasting. I find most brands of silver tequila to be a bit too harsh to drink neat. Great for cocktails because the agave shines through, but most of them pack too much of a punch when they’re coming straight out of the still, without any time to mellow out in a barrel.Lately I’ve tried a few exceptions though, such as Cascahuin that I reviewed earlier, a 55-year-old tequila brand that’s about an hour outside of Tequila town. I tasted all six of their main offerings and the blanco was a real standout. It’s usually evident at first whiff, however, never mind the tasting, that it hasn’t been aged at all.So back to Tequila Cosmico, where something felt strange. It was way too refined to be an unaged spirit. Sure enough, I took a closer look and saw “Añejo Cristalino” on the label. Ah, that explains it: one of those trendy new Frankenstein tequilas that have been filtered to look as clear as vodka, but in reality have been in barrels then had all of their color drained out of them.I’ll say for the record that I think this is a really silly marketing trend. Sure, it means you can put more expensive tequila into cocktails that require a clear spirit, thus making more money for bar owners from the padded tab, but it’s hard to make a case that this development benefits the consumer at all. Call me cynical, but it seems like cocktail white-face, making something look clear instead of its natural brown so it’ll be preferable to clients who shun dark liquor. The aged spirit equivalent of bleached white flour or refined sugar.The cynic in me thinks that maybe the tequila makers are tired of customers taking so long for to sip their way through a bottle of fine añejo tequila. Maybe if they push this more expensive clear tequila as an ingredient in $30 cocktails in London and New York City, they’ll be able to move it by the case much faster.All that aside, what does it really taste like though after all that manipulation? Surprisingly in this case, quite good. Had I been blindfolded, I would have just pegged this as a good (but not terrific) añejo. I wouldn’t have known it was one that’s been subjected to unnatural changes between barrel and bottle.Tequila Cosmico Cristalino Tasting NotesThe first impression of Tequila Cosmico Cristalino put things off to a good start. The nose has all the elements I would hope for, like citrus, a hint of green pepper, a little peppery spice, but with no big wave of alcohol that hits your nose like a punch in the face. There are fewer oak notes than I would expect from something that has spent so long in barrels, but it all works in harmony. The first sip follows the same route, with a sweet and sour deliciousness that takes over your taste buds from front to back, the balanced flavor easily shining through and the agave still having a starring role in the mix.Cosmico really lingers on your tongue long after it has passed through, which in this case is definitely a good thing. The finish is long and satisfying, with no off-notes that shouldn’t be there. The whole experience is a delight from start to finish.Without someone telling me, would I have known this was a manipulated añejo instead of the real thing? I’m not sure. It’s sweeter than normal, closer to Clase Azul (which I love) than Reserva de la Familia, which is good in a different way. The more I drank of it, the more I felt it was a bit toned-down, like any rough edges had been removed, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. It’s just different. Most people who only drink tequila now and then probably wouldn’t be able to tell that there’s been some lab work involved to get the spirit to its current state.At heart, this is a small-batch tequila made with care and that shines through. It’s not some mass-market abomination concocted by MBAs to crank out cases by the truckload. That’s evident in the place where I found it: in my room at Casa de la Playa luxury beach resort in the Riviera Maya. Rooms there start at close to $2K per night, so they’re not going to place something on the shelf unless it will meet the high standards of their wealthy guests who can afford to drink anything.Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Tequila Cosmico and while I’m a bit skeptical about this whole trend of turning brown liquor into something clear, in this case the end result is still delicious. I still won’t be wasting it on cocktails though. I’ll buy a real, less expensive blanco for that.The version I tasted retails for $20 in the 375ml size, $37 in the regular 750ml size. That’s a good value. Even in Mexico it’s not so easy to find yet though. Try Amazon Mexico or other online retailers. See more at the official website here.There’s a premium extra añejo version that’s $200, but it would be hard to make a case that the huge price difference is justified unless you’re really trying to impress a client with a gift that’s expensive for the sake of being expensive. It seems pointless to spend that much on more aging if the liquor is then going to go through a de-coloring process to make it look like something it’s not. But maybe that’s just me…Tweet

Source: luxurylatinamerica.com