Women In the Mezcal Industry: Barbara Sweetman

The First Time

I first met Barbara Sweetman, Vice President of Caballeros, Inc., and International Sales Manager of Scorpion Mezcal, and now, Sierra Norte Whiskies in March 2011.

I was visiting the infamous Nightclub & Bar show in Las Vegas to report on the special edition of the Spirits of Mexico that was participating.

Doug French, Founder of Scorpion Mezcal, was on stage depicting the intricacies of distilling his unique mezcals.  I wandered over to the vendor tables that lined both sides of the narrow section reserved for the Spirits of Mexico.

Up to that point, mezcal was still somewhat of a mystery to most of us.  My only real experience was sampling them from Ron Cooper, founder of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals.

A single woman standing behind a table shyly asked if I had ever tried Scorpion Mezcal.  When I confessed that I hadn’t, she suggested that I try their joven espadin expression.

Women In the Mezcal Industry: Barbara Sweetman http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5dL

Expecting to feel the burn and the smoky aroma of a much stronger mezcal, I was amazed at how approachable Scorpion was.  Barbara then proceeded to guide me through an entire flight of all their expressions.

That was my first sip of Scorpion Mezcal, and chances are, Barbara Sweetman handed you your first taste of Scorpion, as well.

A Mezcal Lifer

Women In the Mezcal Industry: Barbara Sweetman http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5dL

As Doug French explains in his own words…

“With Barbara’s efforts sales grew and I needed to produce more.

“This was a pattern with Barbara for the last 15 years.  Her relentless enthusiasm and determination is what took Scorpion–and the whole mezcal industry–forward into becoming a category in the USA.

“I dare say that over the last 15 years, she has single handedly given more human beings in the world their first taste of mezcal than any other person or company in the industry.

“She is also the first person to take multiple brands into all the levels of the Three Tier System so that mezcal could settle into the system as a new functional category.”

The Second Time

For only the second time (and the first time for mezcal), Tequila Aficionado presents Barbara Sweetman’s videotaped responses to our standard handful of questions for our Women In the Mezcal Industry anthology.

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TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Mezcal Industry?)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Mezcal Industry?

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Mezcal Industry?

TA:  What facets of the Mezcal Industry would you like to see change?

TA:  Do you approve of how Mezcal brands are currently marketing themselves?

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Mezcal Industry in one form or another?