CLASE AZUL, AN EARLY TRAILBLAZER IN ULTRA LUXURY MEXICAN SPIRITS, CELEBRATES ITS SILVER ANNIVERSARY WITH A SPECIAL EDITION REPOSADO, HOUSED IN A STRIKING, HANDPAINTED COBALT BLUE AND PLATINUM COLLECTOR’S BOTTLE
BY EVAN MONROE
In 1997, long before craft “tequila temples” in Manhattan began serving 60-mL pours of ultra-aged añejos for $60 a pop, an ambitious 24-year-old Tequilero out of Guadalajara set out to rattle the widening tequila industry in his home state of Jalisco. At the time, Cuervo and Sauza dominated the segment, and the concept of ultra-premium tequila was still well in its infancy (that same category has since ballooned in volume by 1,042%, per data from the Distilled Spirits Council), but Arturo Lomeli saw potential.
The inspiration behind Clase Azul Spirits (recently rebranded to Clase Azul Mexico to reaffirm the maker’s commitment to its Mexican heritage) was two-fold: high-quality liquid and unconventional bottle design that could be upcycled to eliminate waste. The leg of a Gothic table influenced the silhouette that would quickly garner icon status: an elongated, curved bottle with a silver bell topper, handcrafted of ceramic and hand-painted by artisans in the small, mountainous town of Santa Maria Canchesda in Mexico. The arduous process takes 11 days and involves polishing, glazing, painting, and baking the bottle in an oven heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Today, many of these bottles are being refashioned into high-end lamps, mirrors, vases, and other swanky home décor by Milan-based studio Istituto Europeo Di Design.
This year, two and a half decades after the first bottle of Clase Azul’s signature reposado hit the market and helped spark the wild propulsion of premium tequila, the still independently owned brand is celebrating its silver anniversary with a new limited edition reposado housed in a rich cobalt blue and platinum decanter. Made by master distiller Viridiana Tinoco, the 25 Aniversario is crafted from agave that was milled via a traditional stone called a tahona, a hallowed practice that dates back to the origins of tequila making. After an extended fermentation process to highlight the liquid’s citrus and fruity notes, the blend is then aged for eight months in two separate first-use American whiskey casks to deliver a medium-bodied sipper with aromas of agave syrup, banana, wood, toasted coconut, and soft vanilla. The palate lends complex notes of caramel, vanilla, almond, agave syrup, and banana. claseazul.com