Dahlia is the first new project from the Mezcal El Silencio camp in eight years.
Fausto Zapata and Vicente Cisneros, founders of the award-winning Mezcal El Silencio, have announced the launch of their first cristalino tequila—their first product in eight years. Tequila Dahlia launches March 1 at an SRP of $39.99.
“There is a saying in Oaxaca that you don’t find mezcal, mezcal finds you,” says Zapata. “Something similar happened with us and cristalino tequila. It found us. And once it did, it was the only tequila we wanted to drink.”
Zapata saw cristalino sweeping Mexico City. “It really brought us back to the origins of El Silencio, when we had envisioned the creation of a sipping Mezcal that embodied the very same traits—a beautiful, clean, easy spirit.”
Flash forward a few years and Tequila Dahlia is a premium reposado cristalino made from 100% matured blue weber agave in Jalisco’s Tequila Valley. The liquid is aged for six months in White American oak then filtered through activated charcoal to remove color imparted from the aging process.
It’s incredibly clean, with a light, silky mouthfeel. On the palate, a complex bouquet of florals and bright, subtle notes of fennel and vanilla bean. Dahlia is bottled at 40% ABV in an elegant glass bottle inspired by vintage perfume decanters.
Dahlia marks the first new project from the Mezcal El Silencio camp since the brand launched in 2013. Zapata and Cisneros’ brandchild quickly rose to become one of the major players in the mezcal scene. Constellation Group acquired a minority share of El Silencio in 2019, pouring in investments to help the brand ramp up growth and expand operations (though Zapata and Cisneros still handle product development and branding). At the time, group president and CEO Bill Newlands noted, “Mezcal is one of the hottest trends in spirits right now, and we’re excited to make our first ventures investment in the mezcal category with a brand as successful as El Silencio. Fausto [Zapata, CEO and co-founder of Mezcal El Silencio] and the El Silencio team have done an incredible job of growing the brand and with our own goal of continuing to build our premium spirits portfolio, we see our investment as a great move for us and El Silencio.”
Dahlia marks the first new release from the Mezcal El Silencio camp in eight years.
Though both Tequila Dahlia is part of the Mezcal El Silencio portfolio, Zapata stresses the major differences between the brands. “Though Mezcal and Tequila are both agave distillates, they are very different creatures, each with its own and very distinct flavor profiles,” says Zapata.
“With El Silencio, we embrace the traditions and artisanal virtues of mezcal. With Dahlia, we celebrate the modernization and evolution of tequila. Both are exquisite and meticulously crafted, yet each arrives at its final form through a very different process. The brands also provide nice counterpoints to each other—Dahlia is joyful, easy, and lighthearted while Silencio is mischievous, complex and adventurous.”
Just as the brand was an early adopter of the American mezcal craze, Zapata and Cisneros’ foray into the cristalino realm signals a big future for the category. The number of cristalino brands on American shelves has almost doubled in the last two years, with new additions being added to the category at a rapid clip. Last fall alone, Tequila Partida launched a sherry-aged cristalino reposado and spirits stalwart Richard Betts unleashed Tequila Komos, a high-end anejo cristalinoa. Maestro Dobel released a special-edition extra añejo cristalino back in October.
To be dubbed a cristalino, the spirit must be filtered with activated charcoal to remove any coloring imparted from the aging process. This process can be applied to any tequila aged in barrels, be it two months or two years—just not a blanco. (While charcoal filtration may seem like a new method introduced to sway the health-conscious consumer, charcoal filtration has long been a part of spirits production. Tennessee whiskey’s Lincoln County Process relies on charcoal filtration, and the process of charcoal filtration in white rum production can be traced back to the nineteenth century.)
Though category is expanding rapidly, it’s still largely a wild card; cristalino is not an official category under the Tequila Regulatory Council, so filtration, maturation and sweetening methods vary from producer to producer. As does quality. Filtered poorly, charcoal filtration strips away all the nuances of the aging process. Done well, charcoal filtration produces a light, silky, nuanced tequila.
“Armed with the Agave expertise we’ve been able to cultivate over the years, we spent quite some time perfecting Dahlia,” says Zapata. “When the final tasting arrived, it was pure tequila magic. Something so exquisite and delicious just had to be shared with the world.”
Mezcal El Silencio’s release of Dahlia is one of the more notable cristalino launches to date, signifying big category growth to come, particularly in step with tequila’s unprecedented sales. “We like saying that we sell two things: the spirit and the brand,” he continues. “As for the spirit, Dahlia is addictively delicious. The Cristalino category will continue to catch the eye of drinks and as a result, we think Dahlia will grow immensely.”
The duo both hail from Mexico City. While they now both call L.A. home, Tequila Dahlia acting as an ode Mexican folklore, referencing Mexico’s national flower and its role in Aztec mythology. For Zapata, “Dahlia is the liquid sentiment of receiving a bouquet of flowers. It is a celebration of mirth; a dance of jubilation. People will pick up on this. We will work with innovators and creators, designers and tastemakers, musicians and chefs, filmmakers, artists, bartenders and writers. We want to invite wonderful people to create wonderful interpretations that reflect the love that we put into Dahlia.”
“So with an exquisite product, a growing sub-category, a beautiful brand and an explosion of creativity, and at just the right price point, what can I say?,” he continues. “Dahlia is our celebrity.”
Kate Dingwall is a spirits and wine writer by day, and a sommelier by night. Her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, MAXIM Magazine, Liquor.com, DuJour Magazine, Eater,