Category Archives: Women & Tequila

Women in The Tequila Industry: Jaclyn Jacquez by M.A. “Mike” Morales

Jaclyn Jacquez considers herself an adelita, of sorts.

Soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution.

Soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution.

Adelitas were female solders (soldaderas) who were a vital force during the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s, fighting alongside men.  As President of Don Cuco Sotol, she spearheads a sixth generation  company producing a spirit steeped in 800 years of history.

The Don Cuco Sotol line up., jaclyn jacquez

The Don Cuco Sotol line up.

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and raised in El Paso, Texas and Chihuahua, Mexico, this charming but fierce warrior woman is more than armed with a masters degree in International Business from the American College of Switzerland.  Under her leadership, the company trademarked its brand name, exported it first into New Mexico, and now, into New Zealand where it is gaining the attention of bars and restaurants specializing in serving handcrafted Mexican spirits-based cocktails.

Jaclyn Jacquez, President of Don Cuco Sotol.

Jaclyn Jacquez, President of Don Cuco Sotol.

In an industry where the image and story behind a spirit is crucial for its marketing success, Jaclyn and the entire Jacquez family, staunchly refuse to stray from their artisanal roots.  Opting instead to concentrate on honoring their culture and way of life in the Sonoran Desert, they have managed to capture its essence inside every bottle of Don Cuco Sotol.

As I related to author, Tom Barry, in his stellar article “A Sotol Story” (it may be bad form to quote oneself, but I’ll do so here), “There is no mistaking that Don Cuco Sotol is produced–handcrafted, micro-distilled–and lovingly brought into the market by the Jacquez family.”

A revolutionary spirit fronted by a soldadera, Jaclyn Jacquez most certainly belongs among the ranks of Tequila Boss Ladies.

To repeat, we asked a short list of five questions to prominent women leading the charge for change in the Tequila Industry and beyond.

Interview with Don Cuco Sotol’s President, Jaclyn Jacquez.

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a high ranking woman in your position in a primarily male dominated industry?

JJ:  To be in a male dominated industry has been an empowering feeling.  The liquor industry is starting to realize the great power of influence women have in this business.  Not only do we have influence in advertisement and marketing but we are playing a major role in strategic business decisions at an international level.

Label.

Label.

TA:  How have you been able to change things within your industry?

JJ:  The sotol industry had played a major role during Mexico’s revolutionary times just as the women called ” Adelitas” did during that period.  Now its challenge, and my challenge, is to revolutionize everyone’s cocktail with this spirit.

My heritage is from Chihuahua and I, too, carry that northern revolutionary spirit within me.  I don’t think I’ve made a change in this industry, yet, but Sotol is a revolutionary drink and I’m just part of its heritage.

I just happen to be the “Adelita.”

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila/Sotol Industry?

Adelitas of the Mexican Revolution.

Adelitas of the Mexican Revolution.

JJ:  I see huge potential for women and the liquor industry itself.

I see women not only in the marketing aspect of it, but in the agriculture, business, social conscious awareness of it and education.  I see women taking this challenging industry to a much higher level where people will not only be asking for just well drinks but for a cocktail with a specific brand of sotol or tequila.

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

JJ:  Awareness.

I want people to understand that tequila and sotol are not just another alcoholic beverage to drink.  It is more than that.  It is culture, art, and a spirit that has to be treated with respect.  That’s why the Ancestors called it spirits.  Consumers need to research and know what they are consuming and demand it.

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

JJ:  Yes.  It’s just like any other goal.  You’ve got to have passion and embrace every challenging aspect of this industry.

***

A soldadera relaxes.

A soldadera relaxes.

 

Find Don Cuco Sotol Online:

Don Cuco Website

Follow Don Cuco Sotol on Facebook

And on Twitter @SotolDonCuco

 

 

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Salt, Liquor, Lime–A Tequila Flux Capacitor by M.A. “Mike” Morales

Tequila Aficionado Media on The Set Of Salt, Liquor, Lime

Tequila Aficionado Media first made contact with the co-producers of Salt, Liquor, Lime in the Spring of 2013 via social media.  Once production was moved in late August to Southern California during a blistering heat wave, we were invited to join the cast and crew to exclusively record our experiences on the set.

***

The Stars of the indie short film, Salt, Liquor, Lime.

The Stars of the indie short film, Salt, Liquor, Lime.

Remember 1989?

There were only a handful of 100% de agave tequilas back then:  Herradura, Chinaco, El Tesoro de Don Felipe, Hornitos and a young upstart brand that would revolutionize the spirits world, Patrón.  These were popular with the original tequila snobs–movie stars and artists–but mixto tequila (51% blue agave, 49% “other sugars”) captured the lion’s share of the market.

It was the end of the Reagan era with the election of George H. W. Bush as President while hundreds of savings and loan associations were bailed out by the government for $150 billion.  Exxon’s oil tanker, Valdez, spilled 11 million gallons of oilafter running aground in Alaska, but gas was just  97 cents per gallon.  Anddue to the greenhouse effect, scientists declared 1989 as the warmest year on record.

Meanwhile, in music, Jon Bon Jovi married his high school sweetheart in Las Vegas while Michael Jackson was named the “King of Pop” at the Soul Train Awards.  The Moscow Music Peace Festival took place in the Soviet Union and was headlined by Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, Cinderella, and the Scorpions.  Finally, Whitesnake’s David Coverdale married rock n’ roll video vixen (and every adolescent boy’s dream), Tawny Kitaen.

 

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Skinny's Lounge in North Hollywood, CA.

Skinny’s Lounge in North Hollywood, CA.

In their hey day, famed West Hollywood night clubs like the Whisky-a-Go-Go, the Roxy and the Troubadour packed patrons in to see such groups as Great White, Warrant, Poison, and Guns N’ Roses.  Out in North Hollywood, The Lodge, now known as Skinny’s Lounge, was serving the gay/transsexual communities in droves.

Twenty-five years later, Skinny’s is now the scene of a raucous new indie short film that takes place during the glory days of glam rock, power ballads, big hair and cheap tequila.

 

Salt, Liquor, Lime

The mysterious magic bottle of tequila.

The mysterious magic bottle of tequila.

Salt, Liquor, Lime is the story of three forty-something women, Diana (Vené Arcoraci Dixon), Jenn (Connie Marie Chiarelli) and Michelle (Sabrina Stewart) reuniting for their 20th college reunion.  Before the big event, they decide to pre-game at their old hangout, the Deja Vu Tavern (Skinny’s), for one drink.  It’s there that Marie (Liane Curtis), Deja Vu’s ageless owner and tequila maven, gives them some magical tequila from a mysterious bottle.

The hangover effect of this “tequila flux capacitor” takes the gals someplace unexpected where they discover their true hearts desire.

 

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Susan Thompson and Cynthia Macadam, co-producers of Salt, Liquor, Lime.

Susan Thompson and Cynthia Macadam, co-producers of Salt, Liquor, Lime.

 

The Story Behind Salt, Liquor, Lime

Billed as “a short film about time, tequila and the space time continuum,” Salt, Liquor, Lime is written and directed by Cynthia Thompson MacAdam, and co-produced by her and her multi-talented cousin and make up artist, Susan Thompson.

 

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      During a break in filming at Skinny’s Lounge, they discuss the project’s long history.

Indie Tequilas Answer The Call

No one knows the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to bring an independent film from conception to fruition better than a tequila brand owner, especially a small, independent tequila brand owner.

Struggling with mounds of paperwork, sometimes for years in both English and Spanish, to locating and acquiring financing and choosing the right distillery to direct the project.  Then, devising an effective marketing strategy to advertise the brand on a shoestring budget while fighting for shelf space next to the “Big Boys” with unlimited piles of cash.  And even if you win an award here and there for your quality and excellence, that’s still no guarantee that cases will move and bottles will fly off the shelves (or, in the case of movies, put butts in the seats), at least not without high powered distribution in place.

That’s why the following leading independent tequila brands chose to support Salt, Liquor, Lime and were rewarded with some slick product placement.

Karma tequila.

Karma tequila.

 

Karma (NOM 1107)–An award winning blend of double and triple distillation, this Highlands tequila is fronted by partners Ray McBride, Robert Grant and Gary Eisenberger who have carefully and strategically grown the brand from the West Coast to East Coast using pure passion and, of course, good karma.

Embajador tequila.

Embajador tequila.

 

 

 

 

Embajador (NOM 1509)–Declaring to be “the finest shot in the game,” this Arizona based family owned brand is gaining serious traction in the tequila industry.

 

Suerte tequila courtesy of Felicity Ryan.

Suerte tequila courtesy of Felicity Ryan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suerte (NOM 1530)–One of the hottest young brands to come along, this tequila has quickly acquired a name and a reputation for quality under the shrewd guidance of its co-founders, Lance Sokol and Laurence Spiewak.

Each of these brands not only understood the value of independent films as art, but also the importance of supporting female spearheaded projects, particularly in this era where marketing numbers show that 70%-80% of the buying decisions for the household are heavily influenced by women.

The Challenges of Filming A Female-Driven Comedy

Whether it’s marketing a fledgling tequila brand or shooting an indie film, flexibility while keeping an eye on results is critical for its survival.

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In this clip, Cynthia and Susan discuss the changes and challenges of filming Salt, Liquor, Lime, a female-driven comedy, and where they’d like to ultimately end up. 

Keeping It Real

Stunt booze.

Stunt booze.

Skinny’s Lounge in North Hollywood doubled as the Deja Vu Tavern, the fictional club in the Midwest that is the scene of all of the short film’s interior action.  Actress (and one time bartender) Lacy Fisher, also the film’s production designer and whose husband owns Skinny’s, made sure that everything on and behind the bar echoed the trends of 1989 and today.  Even the cocktails had their own stunt doubles.  No alcohol was poured or harmed during the making of this film.

 

 

Ready For Our Close-up! 

In a surprise move by Cynthia and Susan, Tequila Aficionado was mentioned in one of the character’s dialogue.

tequila aficionado, salt liquor lime movie

Tequila Aficionado in the movies.

 

 

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Quiet on The Set!

Craft table.

Craft table.

Ask anyone who’s ever worked on a film set and they’ll tell you, movie making is like the military–“hurry up and wait.”  Long lulls between scenes while the crew lines up lighting and camera angles can last hours.  Not so on the set of an indie film.  Much like bringing a young tequila brand to the market, nimbleness and thinking on your feet are required.

Budget constraints, time crunches and scene continuity are dealt with in real time.  Skinny’s opens  every night of the week at 8pm, so the cast and crew had early set calls for hair and make up and none of the equipment could be left overnight.

Teamwork and camaraderie are strengthened, and most times, egos are left at the door.  What results are more brilliant portrayals, more genuine emotion, and…

 

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…More hilarious laughs.

 

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And the Award Goes To….

Salt, Liquor, Lime, the short film, premiered on January 24, 2014 to a full house at Skinny’s Lounge.  Guests were treated to cocktails and laughs and the cast and crew were given a proper send-off.

Balancing act.

Balancing act.

Like a start-up tequila brand, hopes and dreams are nurtured by hard work and care.  Film festivals like South by Southwest (SXSW), the Sundance Film Festival and many others are certainly a possibility for Cynthia and Susan’s project.

Whether a newcomer tequila envisions itself to be the next Cabo Wabo or Peligroso, or Salt, Liquor, Lime promises to be the next Bridesmaids or The Hangover is anyone’s guess.  But like any indie film or indie tequila, it’s not just about the buzz behind your brand, but how well your story is told.

The ladies of Salt, Liquor, Lime have fun with Siete Leguas tequila.

The ladies of Salt, Liquor, Lime have fun with Siete Leguas tequila.

 

Keep it here on TequilaAficionado.com to see how this tale ends.

 

***

If you’d like to support the indie film Salt, Liquor, Lime, go here.

Follow Salt, Liquor, Lime on Facebook. And on Twitter @SaltLiquorLime

 

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Women in the Tequila Industry

mike morales, tequila journalist, tequila aficionado, tequila, women in the tequila industry

Tequila Aficionado Exclusive Series

Have you seen Tequila Aficionado’s series on Women in the Tequila Industry by Tequila Journalist, M.A. “Mike” Morales?

From Bikini Babes to Boss Ladies

The contributions of women who create some of the amazing spirits we enjoy, direct production and distillation, support educational efforts, own brands we love, and otherwise contribute to the tequila industry are often overlooked beyond the 80’s throwback bikini-babe marketing efforts of behind-the-times brands.  (Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, but when women make 80% of the buying decisions in America today, don’t you think brands would be better served by changing their marketing approach with the times?)

Catch Up With The Series

Click on the links below to visit our ongoing series and explore some of the amazing contributions made by women in today’s tequila industry:

Tequila Boss Ladies

“…women need to be comfortable seeing themselves as qualified leaders and risk takers.” Arianna Huffington

Click on the title to read more.

Women In The Tequila Industry: Ana Maria Romero Mena

The role of women in the tequila industry.

The report predicted that more women, in particular Latina/Hispanic women with family ties to agave growers and tequila producers, would join the ranks of tequila brand owners and also become influential in other areas of this traditionally male dominated industry.  Click on the title to read more.

Women In The Tequila Industry: Cecilia Norman

We continue our series of Women In The Tequila Industry with Cecilia Norman, Communication Manager for the Tequila Interchange Project, a non-profit organization and consumer advocacy group for tequila.  Click on the title to read more.

Women In The Tequila Industry: Ana Valenzuela

Apart from her many accomplishments (briefly summarized in our article, Tequila Boss Ladies), Ana is also the founder of Signo Tequila, a non-profit organization established in 2007 and dedicated to educating the public about tequila, agave conservation and Mexican cultural  products.  Click on the title to read more.

Women In The Tequila Industry: Sophie Decobecq

Aside from her wacky sense of humor where marketing her tequila is concerned (‘Tequila makes us smarter. So, drink smart” is one of her favorite slogans), Sophie has a unique perspective on the Tequila Industry.  Not just a female master distiller, Sophie is also French born which presents its own set of challenges.  Click on the title to read more.

Women In The Tequila Industry: Carmen Villarreal

Carmen Alicia Villarreal Treviño is a legend among Tequila Boss Ladies.  In fact, she is the original Tequila Boss Lady.  Click on the title to read more.

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Women In The Tequila Industry: Carmen Villarreal by M.A. “Mike” Morales

Carmen Alicia Villarreal Treviño, The Original Tequila Boss Lady

Carmen Alicia Villarreal Treviño is a legend among Tequila Boss Ladies.  In fact, she is the original Tequila Boss Lady.

To date, she is the only female tequila distillery owner, taking the reins of Casa San Matías soon after the tragic death of her husband in 1997.  Determined to keep his dreams alive, Carmen proceeded to create some of the most emblematic brands in the business like Carmessí, Rey Sol, and Pueblo Viejo.

Known as a fine humanitarian and crusader for equal rights for women, Ms. Villarreal has piloted Casa San Matías into the 21st Century as an ecologically and socially responsible company, as well as raising the bar in the production of quality tequilas.

If you’ve been following our series, we asked a short list of five questions to prominent women leading the charge for change in the Tequila Industry and beyond.

[Editor’s note:  For the convenience of our interviewee and our Spanish speaking audience, this article is in both English and Spanish.]

Interview with Carmen Alicia Villarreal Treviño

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a high ranking woman in your position in a primarily male dominated industry?

(¿Cómo describiría sus experiencias como una mujer de alto rango en su posición en una industria dominada principalmente masculina?)

CV:  My experience as a woman in the tequila industry has been very pleasant and I’ve always been shown respect, support and affection by my colleagues.  As with many women, my most important challenge has been to combine my personal and family life with my work and within the industry, to compete on a global scale as a family business.

Pueblo Viejo tequila, Carmen Villareal, san matias

Pueblo Viejo tequila

(Mi experiencia como mujer dentro de la industria tequilera ha sido muy agradable, he recibido siempre de mis colegas muestras de respeto, apoyo y cariño. Mi reto más importante ha sido, como el de muchas mujeres, el de combinar la vida personal y familiar con el trabajo y dentro del sector el de competir en un mundo global como empresa familiar.)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within your industry?

(¿Cómo han sido capaces de cambiar las cosas dentro de su industria?)

CV:  I’ve worked vehemently to strengthen the image of quality of our house [distillery] by enlarging the brand portfolio that we offer to the market.  I’ve dreamed of achieving total growth as a company by caring for the human aspect and the social environment.

We have the satisfaction [distinction] of being the first tequila company to be certified as a “Great Place to Work” and also the first to participate in the program of the sale of carbon credits that the United Nations promotes to combat global warming.  We are in the process of certifying as a company with gender equality, and also being the first company in the tequila industry to obtain [achieve] it.

(He trabajado fuertemente por fortalecer la imagen de calidad de nuestra casa ampliando el portafolio de marcas que ofrecemos al mercado. He soñado con lograr un crecimiento integral como compañía, cuidando el aspecto humano y el entorno social.

Casa San Matías, Carmen Villareal, san matias

Casa San Matías

(Tenemos la satisfacción de ser la primera empresa tequilera en certificarse como un “Great Place to Work” y también la primera en participar en el programa de venta de bonos de carbono que promueve la ONU para combatir el sobrecalentamiento global. Estamos en proceso de la certificación de empresas con equidad de género, siendo también la primera en la industria tequilera en obtenerlo.)

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

(¿Qué ves como el futuro de las mujeres que trabajan en la industria del Tequila?)

CV:  Fortunately, [I see] the doors of the industry have opened for women.  Every time there is more participation and recognition for the work we carry out.  Without a doubt, I expect the future for women to be very promising, especially in the areas of research, product development, quality [control], bottling, administration and marketing.

(Afortunadamente veo que las puertas de la industria se han abierto para las mujeres, cada vez hay más participación y reconocimiento al trabajo que desempeñamos. Espero sin duda que el futuro será muy prometedor para las mujeres, especialmente en las áreas de investigación, desarrollo de productos, calidad, envasado, administración y mercadotecnia.)

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

Rey Sol Extra Añejo, Carmen Villareal, san matias

Rey Sol Extra Añejo

(¿Qué cosas gustaría cambiado?)

CV:  There are lots of things I’d like to see changed.

I’d like to see an industry that could vertically integrate itself with the agricultural sector, achieving  a way to generate wealth for the land, the rural communities and for the industrialists.

I’d like to see the continued support of the participation of women in the industry, that we evolve to support them with more flexibility in programs and childcare.

I would love to see the Tequila category as one of the strongest in the world renowned for its quality.

(Hay muchas cosas que me gustaría cambiar…

(Me gustaría ver a una industria que pudiera integrarse verticalmente con el sector agrícola, logrando encontrar la forma de generar riqueza para el campo, para las comunidades rurales y para los industriales.

Carmessí, Carmen Villareal, san matias

Carmessí, made for adventuresome women.

(Quisiera que siguiéramos apoyando la participación de las mujeres en la industria, que evolucionáramos para apoyarlas más con flexibilidad en programas y cuidado de los niños.

(Me encantaría ver al Tequila cómo una de las categorías más fuertes en el mundo, reconocida por su calidad.)

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

(¿Existe algo que le gustaría decir a las mujeres que pueden estar contemplando entrar y trabajar en la industria del Tequila en una forma u otra?)

CV:  I’d like to tell them to believe in themselves, in their potential.  The industry needs the participation of professional, talented and dedicated women to contribute to the growth of the sector.

(Me gustaría decirles que crean en ellas, en su potencial, que la industria está necesitada de la participación de mujeres profesionales, talentosas y dedicadas para contribuir al crecimiento del sector.)

***

Follow Casa San Matías (via Pueblo Viejo) on Facebook.

Follow them on Twitter @CasaSanMatiasUS

 

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Women In The Tequila Industry: Sophie Decobecq by M. A. “Mike” Morales

No list of Tequila Boss Ladies would be complete without mentioning the likeable and charismatic Sophie Decobecq, creator of the award winning Calle 23 Tequila.

Aside from her wacky sense of humor where marketing her tequila is concerned (‘Tequila makes us smarter. So, drink smart” is one of her favorite slogans), Sophie has a unique perspective on the Tequila Industry.  Not just a female master distiller, Sophie is also French born which presents its own set of challenges.

To reiterate, we asked a short list of five questions to prominent women leading the charge for change in the Tequila Industry and beyond.

Read on!

***

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a high ranking woman in your position in a primarily male dominated industry?

 SD:  It has been, so far, a rich human experience combined with a non-stop working period.

Tequila is a male dominated industry, or to be more precise, a Mexican male industry.  Meaning that there is a cultural dimension to it, with its own rules.

Being a foreigner, you have to respect them or better you do your life somewhere else.  I have been told only once by a tequilero that this was not a place for me, being a woman; this exception being completely forgotten thanks to many other tequileros who have made me a very nice space in their world.

Calle 23.

Calle 23.

 TA:  How have you been able to change things within your industry?

 SD:  Did I ever change anything? (laughs). What I may have added is a point of view from a non-native person, with cultural habits of protecting traditions.  I still view through French eyes this industry in which I am deep inside for more than a decade, giving me the pride to represent, as best as possible, this Mexican treasure I fell in love with, and to spread the word about the category that is for me the future of tequila:  “tequila 100% agave”giving the full spirit of the agave plant (compared to the category “tequila”which is produced with only a minimum of 51% of agave).

My way of working in this industry follows a woman’s heart, which I would describe in my case as encouraging local economy, sustainable processes and Mexican culture, instead of having a business focused on money efficiency.

Please don’t literaly interprete this, as this is a very general vision.  There are many amazing men here doing this too, an example being Carlos Camarena from Tapatio keeping a place for his employees until they decide to retire.

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

 SD:  Future is to build!  The industry is growing and there will be naturally space for more men and women. Current problem is that women are confronted with more difficulties to enter into it:  for the fact of being a woman, their capacity to handle the work is a challenge.  Same, in fact, as in other industries like politics.

Tequila Rules!

Tequila Rules!

There has been a female candidate running for Mexican presidency this year, and comments you could hear in medias and in the streets were mostly about being a woman more than about her program.  Which ever program each candidate had during these elections, no time was spent to question the fact that the other candidates were “men.”  Same in tequila, when importance should be on the objectives and the paths chosen.  Don’t you think?

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

 SD:  Less judgment based on gender.  I am not a feminist, just humanist:  considering people for their ideas and the persistency of their actions rather than their gender or social level from where they come from.

[The Tequila] Industry had amazing women in the past, leading and impacting tequila empire as Herradura.  It would be good to see that native women could have the opportunity to retake more often that place, if they are the best ones.  Not for being a woman, but for being the individual person that would be the best leader at that moment, as it actually was the case with Carmelita [Villarreal] from San Matias and Lucretia from Siete Leguas.

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

Sophie Decobecq (Photo by Chris McCarthy)

Sophie Decobecq (Photo by Chris McCarthy)

SD:  If this is your dream, follow it!!

Advice that I would give is persistency, respect for the amazing knowledge Mexicans have about this process that they have as a heritage, and unconditional patience for all the unexpected you will find on you way.

This unexpected and unplanned part is frustrating at the beginning, but trust me, after some time you kind of become addicted to it.  Every day is a challenge with many efforts to give, but you then earn a life with beautiful aromas and flavors around you, as well as joy, smiles, music, street-non-stop-sounds, colors, beauty of agave plants and so much more.

Welcome to [the] Tequila world!

***

Follow Sophie Decobecq on Facebook.

Follow Calle 23 Tequila on Twitter @TequilaCalle23

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