How Purity, Passion and Purpose Inspired El Cristiano Tequila

“All of our effort right up until now was focused on making sure we don’t steer away from our mission,” founder tells LAMag

El Cristiano tequila just made its official debut on the market and has already won several awards for distilling a mature agave without sacrificing the quality or the ingredients. The corked and bottled product of third generation master tequila makers created their smoothest sip with three values in mind: purity, passion and purpose.

“About 8 years ago, we went to the St. Regis in Punta Mita, where in an empty bar, the barman saw an opportunity to teach us a thing or two. He brought over a bar cart full of specialty and ultra-premium tequilas. We did a tasting of a variety of delicious tequilas with him talking to us and almost creating a journey as we sipped and walked from one tequila to the next. That is when we absolutely fell in love with tequila,” founder, Karan Khanna told Los Angeles. “Already being huge wine and whiskey lovers, starting to love and collect tequila was the next natural step for us. A few years later, we came close to buying a tequila company and learned even more. That’s probably the point where we formed the idea of starting our own tequila company.” 

Conceived by an intimate group of Khanna’s friends with a passion for tequila and Mexico, the creators behind El Cristiano have over four decades of combined experience in the tequila industry. With their experience in collaboration with agave and tequila masters, they set on a journey to create a world-class tequila beyond anything else currently offered. That’s where Khanna’s passion met his desire to find purity in his future product.

“When we started creating our own tequila, we came up with our values first,” Khanna said. “To be honest, when we worked with our partners to create the tequila, we truly only desired what we could get by distilling perfectly mature agave. For that reason, we have each harvest looked over by our senior most executive, Chris Shaffer, who visually inspects all the agave’s that end up in making El Cristiano tequila as delicious as it is.”

Since the beginning, El Cristiano’s focus was always on more than just a passion to find a pure taste. The company also prides itself on having a larger purpose, which includes giving back to the less fortunate in the communities their tequila derives from. Therefore, a percentage of every bottle is donated toward the Arandas’ orphanage, public school system and local soccer club.

“We love Mexico. We love the food, the tequila, the culture, the beaches, the cities and most importantly the people of Mexico. So it was very important to us when we started El Cristiano to make it part of our mission and values to give back to the community where all of this is created,” Khanna said. 

“By buying El Cristiano tequila, our customers are ultimately helping us give back by bringing higher wage employment, sustainable prices for agave, and direct support to the community via our various charitable causes,” he added.

El Cristiano launched their tequila last month during an intimate tasting at Los Angeles’ very own San Vicente Bungalows. According to Khanna, Los Angeles was the perfect city for the brand’s introduction to Americans due to its close proximity to Mexico and its population of people with Mexican heritage searching for an “additive free tequila from their homeland.” 

“We are LA people and love LA and want to celebrate our tequila in LA. That is also one of the reasons that the LA Billboard campaign was as big as it was,” Khanna said. “This being the center, the marketing strategy is to branch out to the other big states, slowly but surely educating our consumer on why our tequila is so delicious.”

“We have found through our extensive business experience that the need for speed often ends up making the founders cut corners. Whether it’s the quality of the bottle, the top, labels, the liquid or getting it to the consumer, we want to make sure we don’t cut anything anywhere,” he added. “Unlike other startups or brands started by large corporations, we have the resources to follow our vision. We don’t report to any investors or shareholders who are demanding a quick return. So we will open markets where we have influence, make sure we do a good job and then expand from there. In the meantime, we launched Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas with a splash of a combined 150 billboards. We are currently in the process of launching Florida and New York. Once we are up and running, we will plan a similar branding and marketing effort there.” 

At the event, El Cristiano introduced an entirely new flavor category with their 11 month barrel aged Extra Reposado and unique ulta-premium eight year aged Anejo. Using a distillation method of traditional distill pots with copper, and aging in American Oak barrels, their tequila is always additive-free and gluten-free, using sustainable practices. 

“As we developed our palate and tasted more and more tequila, we started tasting what we felt were flavors that were not entirely natural. We came to learn that a lot of tequila has added sugars, flavors and colors,” Khanna noted. “This comes from the need of masking agave that was harvested before it is completely mature. Many people don’t realize that it takes approximately five to six years before Highlands Blue Weber agave matures properly.”

The extra time and attention El Cristiano’s tequila makers put into the product has already paid off as TAG GLOBAL Spirits Awards honored El Cristiano’s Reposado and Anejo Black flavor profiles with “Double Gold” accolades. Blanco Silver was also named a winner in the “Silver” category.

“We are humbled and honored,” Khanna said. “We truly entered the awards after one of the judges tasted our Reposado and almost forced our hand to enter the awards this year. All of our effort right up until now was focused on making sure we don’t steer away from our mission: purity, passion and purpose.”

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