Don Julio has been in the tequila game since 1942. Today it’s one of the world’s largest producers and most valuable tequila brands. You don’t get to the top of the agave-covered mountain by doing things the same way as everybody else. That’s evident in the brand’s lineup. In addition to its core expressions—blanco, reposado, and ańejo—Don Julio also makes an extra-añejo dubbed Don Julio 1942 and a cristalino called Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro.
Cristalino tequilas are aged tequilas that have been filtered to remove the color imparted from their time spent inside oak barrels. The process is meant to keep much of the woody accents intact while also highlighting the earthy agave notes of a blanco. The result is a crystal-clear spirit with a fuller, richer flavor profile than its appearance would indicate.
Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro was released in 2012 to commemorate founder Don Julio Gonzales’ 70th anniversary since launching the brand. Cristalinos were a relatively unknown category when Don Julio 70 was introduced, but the brand helped bring it to the wider market. Since then, the tequila category has witnessed dozens of new entrants.
Don Julio 70 begins its life as Don Julio Añejo, distilled in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, then aged for 18 months in white American oak barrels. Once it’s fully mature, the liquid goes through a charcoal filtering process that strips away the color. What’s left is a clear tequila with aromas of roasted agave, oaky vanilla, citrus, pepper, and caramel. The silky, medium-bodied palate is slightly sweet, with notes of vanilla, honey, mild baking spices, and more pepper. The warm finish brings more of that soft oak, plus hints of chocolate.
This tequila is an interesting hybrid that has the smoothness of a blanco and the complexity of an añejo. Ultimately, the añejo wins out, despite what your eyes say, as the oak influence proves more powerful than the fresh agave and fruit character found in Don Julio Blanco. But it’s an interesting spirit from start to finish.
How to Drink Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro
This is a sipping tequila through and through. Pour it in a glass—a snifter or glencairn works nicely, but a simple rocks glass will also do—put the glass to your lips, and repeat. You can throw it over a large ice cube if you prefer your tequila chilled, but you needn’t bother with cocktails. Of course, you should always drink tequila and every other liquor however you prefer to drink it. In fact, Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro makes a solid Old-Fashioned. But after its meticulous aging and filtration, this is a tequila that deserves to be sipped as the makers intended it, not doctored with sugar and mixers.
That said, topping your tequila with sparkling water may help to unlock some of the flavors within. Don Julio suggests a simple Tequila and Soda Highball served tall with ice. It’s cold, refreshing and hydrating, and it won’t drown the nuance in this luxury tequila.