Bats Are Dying!

1016151502aDuring Tequila Aficionado Media’s historic Dia de los Muertos Tequila Tour, Lisa Pietsch and I paid a visit to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico.  Before exploring the awesome depths of the caves and the formation of stalactites and stalagmites, we were also met with this alarming notice.

Even though it’s the Mexican freetail bats that are suffering man’s encroachment onto their turf, all bats are going through a hard time, including the “tequila bat.”


Vicious Circle

The industrialization of the tequila making process, and to a certain extent some mezcals,  has made the preservation of the agave (blue, espadin, etc.) vital to the longevity of these industries and to the survival of the people who rely upon them for their existence.

It’s no secret that the weber blue agave is susceptible to diseases now that it is not allowed to bloom a quiote or stem for pollination by the lesser long-nosed bats.

By not letting the agave run the length of its lifespan, it is also upsetting the eco-system and natural migratory patterns of bats that rely on the agave for sustenance.

The agave gene pool has been tampered with by the explosive growth of the 1016151541tequila and mezcal industries.

The plant’s natural defenses against diseases and pests are compromised.  This means that pesticides are required to defend the valuable agave crops against diseases and pests.

In turn, the pesticides are hazardous to the health of harvesters, bats, bees and birds alike.  Not to mention the eventual pollution to the soil, ground water and water supplies.

It’s a vicious circle that agave growers can remedy by simply letting a portion of their agave crops grow naturally.

What Can Consumers Do?

Look for certified organic tequilas, mezcals, or sotols for starters.  These must follow certain protocols which prohibit the use of pesticides in order to earn the USDA seal.

1016151438aIn addition, though considered a marketing buzz phrase, look for agave spirits that are produced with agave or sotol that has been “wild harvested.”  Chances are, none of them are using pesticides.

Secondly, seek agave spirits brands that claim to be “bat friendly.”

According to Angelica Menchaca Rodriguez, whose PhD studies are concerning this very subject, look for mezcal made with maguey papalote (agave cupreata) since “…this species cannot reproduce without the intervention of bats and can be found mainly in the state of Guerrero.”

The Tequila Interchange Project is working with Rodrigo Medellin–the Batmanbatfriendly of Mexico–in the pilot stages of a massive Bat Friendly Tequila & Mezcal Recognition Program that will likely include some beloved brands of tequilas and mezcals.

In the meantime, be kind to bats.  Build bat houses for them to roost in as suggested by the Bat World Sanctuary.

The bat you save could be your best sipping buddy.


Tequila Gets Fruity: Flavors & Infusions

From the Vault Aug 12, 2004

margarita, vault

Lime Shot Bottle ImageMexico makers want to add fruit to firewater in bid to expand market.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s tequila industry, in pursuit of younger customers, plans to follow other alcohol producers by offering the centuries-old firewater tinged with citrus flavors.

“Young people are drinking flavored products,” said Miguel Aguilar Romo, Mexico’s director for standards at the economy ministry. “We have vodka, we have rum, we have flavored beer. We can’t be left out of this global trend.”

Romo’s office, which sets the rules tequila makers must follow, gave the go-ahead this month to allow fruity tequila starting in January 2004.

“We are not pretending to change our drink — just looking to branch out with new products,” said Eduardo Orendain, head of the National Tequila Industry Chamber, which groups producers.

The Mexican government regulates the production of tequila, which — like champagne and cognac — has the so-called “guarantee of origin,” meaning it can only be made in certain regions.

Tequila is distilled from the pineapple-shaped core of the blue agave cactus in five Mexican states: Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit, Tamaulipas and Jalisco, home of the town called Tequila and the leading state producer.

Centuries of tradition

diva tequila, silver, blanco, citrus, penascoProduction methods have changed little since the 17th century. The drink is deeply embedded in Mexico’s culture with an image some fear fruit-flavored tequila could tarnish.

“I have been drinking tequila for more than 45 years and I don’t think it should be demeaned,” said Feliciano Chavez, a businessman from Zapopan in Jalisco state. “Tequila is pure. That’s why it doesn’t cause hangovers. I think new flavors will do some damage. It’s pure marketing.”

Tequila historian Jose Maria Muria, president of Colegio de Jalisco and an avid drinker of straight tequila — the style preferred by most Mexicans — says flavors are no big deal.

“If we don’t want to tamper with our tequila, then maybe we should prohibit margaritas or drinking tequila mixed with soda,” Muria said.

The Mexican tequila industry has its sights on 20-somethings in the United States. Fruit-flavored tequila will contain the same percentage of alcohol as original tequila, but for many will be less harsh on the taste buds.

The United States is already the main export market for tequila. Mexico last year exported 63 percent of the 141 million liters of tequila produced. More than 80 percent of it went to the United States.

Head start

lampleft_5_bBut the two largest sellers of traditional tequila in the United States — Jose Cuervo and Sauza — said they do not plan to come out with fruit-flavored tequila.

“We are not interested in any tequila with flavors or fruits,” said Alejandra Castillo, a Mexico City spokeswoman for Jose Cuervo which sold about 29 million liters in the United States in 2002, making it the country’s most popular tequila.

“There are no plans, that we’re aware of, to introduce anything like this in the United States,” said Jack Shea, a spokesman for Sauza, which ranked second in U.S. sales last year with about 9 million liters.

One U.S. entrepreneur, David McQueen, has a head start on Mexican producers. He has sold flavored tequila since 2001.

McQueen, the CEO of Las Vegas-based Tukys Tequila, said he holds U.S. patents on five types of flavored tequila: mandarin-orange, watermelon, lime, kiwi-strawberry and coffee.

McQueen said the Mexican and U.S. government allow him to ship U.S.-made fruit flavors to Jalisco, where they are mixed with tequila and returned for sale in the United States.

Romo questioned the legal status of that tequila but McQueen said he has broken no rules.

“It’s legal. It’s not under the table,” McQueen said. “We’ve never had a problem calling it tequila.”

Expo Comida Latina: Thriving Demand for Latino Food Products Compels First-Ever Tradeshow

From the Vault Oct 7,2002

margarita, vault

ExpoCimida-LatinaHundreds of food, beverage and related products’ companies are gearing up for “EXPO COMIDA LATINA, the Hispanic Food and Beverage Show,” to be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center November 3-5, 2002. Celebrating the foods, beverages, flavors and brands of the Americas, exhibits will include products for and by the Hispanic market at this industry-only trade show. Exhibiting companies will run the range from fruits and vegetables to tequila … tortillas to soft drinks … cheese to salsa
LOS ANGELES, Oct 3, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Buyers from supermarket chains to independent grocery stores and institutions are finding that Hispanic products are moving fast, and if they don’t have a large enough selection, customers are taking their business elsewhere. Part of this is due to the new majority populations in Los Angeles and key cities across the nation. Hispanics are expected to hold the majority position by 2010 in Los Angeles, and many say it is already so. Another reason is, as EXPO COMIDA LATINA Show Director Denyse C. Selesnick likes to call it, “the Latinization of the American tastes.”

DSC_0501 According to Selesnick, the time is ripe for this exhibition that seeks to tap the almost $600 billion worth of buying power of the 35 million Hispanics across the United States.

Proportionately, Hispanic households spend more on groceries, desserts, soft drinks and perishables than other demographic groups.

Most restaurants have some type of “Nuevo Latino” dishes on their menus. What used to be considered exotic fruit like mangos are now mainstream. Most retailers carry fresh chiles and other kinds of vegetables imported from Latin America. Food service institutions like hospitals and schools are also including dishes with a Latin flavor on their menus.

8554_1Exhibitors already on board range from international to national companies including mainstream businesses who wish to capture a larger share of the Hispanic market, Hispanic companies who are eager to get their products sold to mainstream retailers and Latin producers who want to export to the United States.

Mexico has a large representation at the EXPO with approximately six Mexican States having individual pavilions. Jalisco, one of the primary agricultural centers in Mexico, will have the largest representation including fruit and vegetable growers, tequila, candy and other types of processed food. Guatemala will also have a sizeable pavilion as well as companies from El Salvador and Costa Rica.

Seminars focusing on increasing sales will feature experts in multicultural marketing. From basic statistics and future predictions about the U.S. Hispanic market to the intricacies of selling to multi-generational customers, these interactive seminars will provide insight into the Hispanic market and provide actionable advice on doing business with this “majority” minority.

11716_10151412162811234_590582546_nDr. Felipe Korzenny, Principal of Cheskin Market Research and Consulting, will discuss how to increase sales to the Hispanic consumer. Ellis Cha, Executive Director of the Korean American Grocers Organization (KAGRO) says, “This exhibition is helping to build bridges from the Hispanic community to my members.”
EXPO COMIDA LATINA will also address the commercial food service sector — Latino and non-Latino restaurants. Several cooking demonstrations will be given in the exhibit hall each day. Well-known chefs will utilize ingredients from the exhibitors in demonstrating recipes. With more and more retailers selling cooked food and some even establishing “cooking to order” sections, this will help generate new ideas. Chef LaLa (well known culinary expert Laura Diaz) will chair this important part of the program, which will include a cooking contest using exhibitor products.

EXPO COMIDA LATINA will be co-located with Diversified Business Communications’ International West Coast Seafood Show giving both exhibitors and visitors two trade shows at the same time. Woodland Hills-based International Trade Information, Inc. and Diversified Business Communications are organizing EXPO COMIDA LATINA. Registration and seminars are free to members of the industry. Exhibitor list and full seminar schedule as well as registration and housing forms can be found in both English and Spanish at

Angel’s Spirits Imports Announces New CA Distribution for Premium Tequila Brands

September 30 – Weslaco , TXAngel’s Spirits Imports and Pale Horse Imports have agreed to supply a new top-shelf 100% Agave Tequila,Mamalon Tequila in California . A new retail outlet for Mamalon Tequila is Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido , CA. Holiday Wine Cellar also has an extensive online store with the ability to sell and ship Mamalon Tequila to 47 states in the USA.

Mamalon Tequila is:

mamalon¨ 100% Blue Agave

¨ Ultra Premium Tequila

¨ Triple Distilled

¨ Fermentation process is 100% natural

¨ Made from 8 to 10 year old Blue Agave plants

¨ Manufactured by one of the largest distillers in Mexico with more than 50 years experience

¨ Bottle top doubles for a perfect 50ml shot of Mamalón that can be either immediately enjoyed, or gifted to your friends.

¨ A pure Agave flavor that experts call the smoothest available   — “Ultra Smoooooth” —


Mamalón Silver Tequila is triple distilled, resulting in a tequila that is ultra pure, uniquely full of agave flavor, and is described as “Ultra Smoooooth.”

nom listTequila is made by distilling the fermented juice of agave plants harvested in Mexico . The agave is a spiky-leafed member of the lily family (it is not a cactus) and is related to the century plant. By Mexican law the agave spirit called Tequila can be made only from one particular type of agave, the Blue Weber Agave (Agave Tequiliana Weber), and can be produced only in specifically designated geographic areas, in the state of Jalisco in west-central Mexico .

All superior tequila starts with only the best “Silver” or “Blanco.” Mamalon Silver is simply in a class all by itself, it is the perfect Blanco. Mamalon Silver Tequila begins as carefully selected mature Blue Agave plants, which have met our strict requirements for water and sugar content.

In order to produce the smooth, robust agave flavor, Mamalón Silver is made with traditional methods. The rich agave pinas are slow-cooked in stone ovens. After the perfect cooking time, we extract the sweet nectar from only the core and hearts of the agaves.

The fermentation process is 100% natural, ensuring the tequila is influenced by the unique outside ensemble of the agave, fruit trees, and other plants that surround the hacienda. Mamalon is then distilled in stills lined with copper three times to produce that “Ultra Smoooooth” rich Agave flavor.

Triple distillation provides Mamalón an extremely robust Agave flavor, with just the right amount of warm mouth feel, as it passes over the tongue and down the throat.


About Angel’s Spirits Imports

Angel’s Spirits Imports is located in Weslaco , TX and was formed with the goal of first importing brands that we own. Over the last couple of years we became a US TTB Importer and have received TTB COLA approvals for our current brands of top-shelf tequila, Mamalon and Amor Eterno. We are currently working on several liqueurs (Coffee, Orange , & Almond) to receive the necessary TTB approvals to import from Mexico . We are always looking to expand our brands and will do so in the near future with some exciting new products.

Angel’s Spirits Imports

1609 North Texas Boulevard, Weslaco , TX   78596

(956) 314-0056




About Holiday Wine Cellar

Holiday Wine Cellar, our landmark store in Escondido , California is family-owned and has been open since 1965. Our extensive selection of exquisite wines, craft beers and exceptional spirits are available in our store and on our website for your convenience.

Holiday Wine Cellar specializes in collectable Napa Valley wine, French wine, vintage Port and more. On the craft beer side, we have a large selection of IPA’s and sour beers in addition to San Diego craft beer and West Coast craft beer. Our specialty in spirits includes Tequila, Mezcal, Bourbon Whiskey, Scotch Whisky, Cognacs and Liqueurs. We also build custom Gift Baskets for any occasion, including corporate gifting and holiday gifts.

Our catalog is easy to navigate, so you can find the French Red Wine, India Pale Ale, Scotch Whiskey or Tequila you want instantly. Our wine baskets make perfect gifts for the holidays or any occasion. When you have selected the products you need, it is easy to order wine online through our secure server. We process orders as soon as they are received so your order will arrive on time and in excellent condition.

Holiday Wine Cellar, Inc.

302 West Mission Ave., Escondido , CA 92025

Phone: 760-745-1200




About Pale Horse Imports

PALE HORSE IMPORTS was started in 1997 with the goal of presenting to the marketplace quality, sipping, 100% agave tequilas imported directly from Mexico . We search out delicious tequilas in interesting packages to fulfill our niche in the industry.

We distribute many brands of tequilas and other liquors throughout California , purchasing them from other importers from around the country. Products that we import exclusively to the USA , we distribute ourselves in California , and have distribution help in various other states.

We plan on diversifying our portfolios as our company rapidly grows. Sales of tequila continue to increase as consumers and collectors learn about quality products available, thus we look forward to the future when we have the whole country drinking great tequilas!

Pale Horse Imports

29479 Wengler Hill Rd., Shingletown , CA 96088 U.S.A.
Phone: (530) 474-1281



Download press release here

Mexican Bats Finally Get Attention

From the Vault June 11, 2002

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Even as swarms of monarch butterflies flutter back to the United States from their winter home in Mexico, another less-loved but equally large migration has winged its way north: tens of millions of Mexican bats.
bat1MEXICO CITY (AP) –U.S. schoolchildren fascinated by the orange-and-black butterflies might not go quite so gaga over a wrinkle-nose little flying rodent like the Mexican free-tail bat, now summering in caves and under bridges in a broad stretch of the Southwest from California to Louisiana.

But the bats’ migration is perhaps just as endangered as the monarchs’ — even though bats more directly benefit human beings by eating thousands of tons of agricultural pests and keeping the desert blooming. They even help make tequila.

The bats’ annual October-April migration — the same schedule as the butterflies’ — contains marvels similar to the monarchs, whose successive generations manage to find their way back year after year.
For example, using just chirps and smells to guide her, a mother bat can quickly locate her baby on a cave ceiling crowded with as many as 20 million other bats, while many humans have trouble finding their kids at the shopping mall.

Bats are already becoming a class project at some schools in Mexico, much as monarch breed-and-release programs are in the United States. About 100 million butterflies winter here, and about the same number of bats.

So why the difference in treatment? Both suffer. The monarch is an indirect victim of deforestation. Loggers are cutting down the fir trees it prefers.

But for decades, Mexico’s bat caves — once some of the world’s largest — have intentionally been burned out, bulldozed, poisoned, filled in or covered up. Farmers sometimes set tires alight, and roll them into caves to smoke out bats.

“The problem is truly and simply one of human perceptions,” said Rodrigo Medellin, a biologist and foremost bat researcher at the Autonomous University of Mexico, referring to the bat’s poor reputation.

One reason is the unfortunate overlap of habitat in Mexico between vampire bats — which don’t migrate to the United States — and the insect-eating, people-shy free-tail bat, which gets blamed for the vampires’ attacks.

“A rancher sees vampire bite marks on his cattle, and he goes after the most visible group of bats around, which is almost always a group of non-vampire bats, like the free-tails,” Medellin said.

Vampires are secretive, and roost in small groups of 50 to 100, while other bats nest in groups as large as several million.

It all adds up to a bad rap for the bats.

Wild_agave_michoacan“When we go into classrooms and ask children what image they have of bats, they almost all say things like, ‘They’re ugly. They suck your blood. They’re the devil’s messengers. They should be killed,”’ said Maria Luisa Franco, an educator who works for the Migratory Mammal Conservation Program.

Using bat games and smiling storybook characters like Marcelo, a nectar-eating bat, and Valentin, a vampire, Franco and her team try to dispel some of the myths and inform children about bats’ useful functions.

Unlike monarch class projects, however, Franco is careful to tell children they shouldn’t enter bat caves or handle bats. And as part of a community outreach program, adults are told how to safely poison vampires.

“It’s a trade off,” said Steve Walker, who, as executive director of Austin, Texas-based Bat Conservation International, helps sponsor the education program and would rather not see any bats killed. “But when you look at the effect (of vampires) on other bat species, it’s worth it.”

Even the tequila industry wants to join the conservation effort, in part to make up for past sins. The link between tequila and bats is found in the endangered long-nosed bat, which is the main pollinator of cactus and agave along its migratory route to the U.S. Southwest.

“Bats are intimately connected to the tequila industry,” said Ramon Gonzalez, director of Mexico’s tequila council. But in the face of the newfound popularity of the drink, farmers of agave are expanding acreage with plants the bats can’t eat.

The long-noses stop at flowering cactuses to eat nectar along their migration, thus spreading pollen from one plant to another, increasing their genetic diversity.

But to catch the distillable sugar that is the heart of tequila, producers have to harvest agaves just before they flower, thus reducing the bats’ food source. Instead of naturally pollinated plants, farmers use farm- or laboratory-produced seedlings, descendants of just a few plants.

Bat advocates are pressing farmers to let just a few agaves flower in each field.

“We want to let the agave flower, but then you lose that plant. It has no commercial value,” Gonzalez said. “We would be quite willing to let some plants flower, but we need to know how many are needed to sustain the bats. We need someone to do a study.”

header-smallAlong the way, the bat advocates have had some successes.

Consider La Boca Cave, in northeast Mexico, a couple of hundred miles south of the U.S. border. It was once home to what may have been the largest colony of warm-blooded animals in the world, an estimated 25 million free-tail bats in the 1960s. The largest current colony, in Bracken cave near San Antonio, holds about 20 million.

By the early 1990s, the population at La Boca had dwindled to only about 100,000, largely due to vandalism. Teen-agers would enter the cave with flashlights, bonfires, or firecrackers, or pelt the bat-crowded ceiling with rocks.

Such disturbances cause waves of young bats to fall to the floor, where the carnivorous beetles that live in such caves reduced them to skeletons in a matter of minutes.

With the help of bat education programs, the La Boca colony started to revive, reaching about 350,000 in 1996 — when Latin America was hit by a wave of reports of a mythical bloodsucking animal, the Chupacabras, literally “the Goat Sucker.”

Chupacabras was variously described by those who had “seen” it as a kangaroo or turkey with claws, an alien or a panther-like beast. Still, although they didn’t fit the description, bats paid the price.

On one occasion, several adults went to La Boca cave to wipe out the evildoers, the supposed Chupacabras. But they were met at the mouth of the cave by a group of youngsters who had done a classroom project on bats.

bat, tequila“The kids stopped them,” said Medellin, the bat researcher. “They told them about the positive aspects of bats, what kind of bats lived there, and they talked them out of killing them.”

It all causes a kind of feeling seldom associated with bats: “It made my heart glow,” Medellin said.

On the Net:

Bat Conservation International 

Congratulations to the 2015 Sip Award Winners

NEWPORT BEACH, California, June 30TH 2015 – Eighty seven consumer spirit enthusiasts gathered at the waterfront Balboa Bay Resort on May 31, 2015 to participate in the 7th annual consumer based spirits competition. The 2015 SIP Awards comprised of 423 brands from all over the globe competing for rank at the impartial mercy of consumer based blind-tasting.

route 66, sip awardThe 2015 SIP Awards was a battle among the elite in each of the world’s most popular Spirit categories. Each chilled, undiluted sample was presented to Judges in NEAT glasses, scientifically engineered to deliver an enhanced consistent tasting experience.

Tequilas, Gins, Rums, Whiskeys, Cognacs, Vodkas and Liqueurs were some of the participating spirits this year, each graded on Aroma, Taste, and Finish.

sip award

The 2015 top rated brands included these agave spirits:

Platinum – “Best of Class”

El Jimador Blanco
DECADA Tequila
El Tesoro Reposado
El Mayor Anejo
Zignum Mezcal Anejo

Platinum Winners

Malinalli Tequila, sip award

Route 66 Tequila
El Mayor Reposado
Tarantula 100 Reposado
Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
Herradura Anejo
Agave 99 Anejo
Malinalli Extra Anejo
Zignum Mezcal Reposado
AGA-VIE Esprit D’Agave


DECADA Tequila
Kah Tequila Series
(For a complete list of the categories, winners, and photos from the event, visit:

Staying true to the commitment to provide the most reliable measure of international beverage quality ratings, every year’s Judges are every-day spirit consumers and extensively screened to ensure no affiliation with marketing, wholesalers or distributors tied to the spirits industry.  “People deserve the highest quality spirits at their fingertips. I want to level the playing field by stripping away the hype to provide quality brands a fair platform on which to compete.” Says Paul Hashemi, founder of SIP Awards.

kahAwards include Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Best of Class for each category. The newest award introduced in 2014, is the Consumers’ Choice Award, which honors a brand’s unwavering commitment to their Legacy, Craft and to the ever important Consumer Palate, by placing in the SIP Awards two or more consecutive years.

The SIP Awards has experienced exponential growth within each of its 15 beverage categories. The increasing number of participating brands reflects SIP’s ability to provide spirit makers a valuable, unbiased and exciting opportunity to distinguish themselves in the industry.  It has also shined light on the obvious need in the marketplace for its honest arbitration.

About SIP Awards

Catering to the opinions and palates of the discerning public, the SIP Awards present a unique, spirit judging competition, unaffected by industry bias. This pragmatic and refreshing model of evaluation provides an honest stage for feedback and recognition where top brands showcase their achievements. To learn more about the SIP Awards beverage competition, venue partnerships, or for a complete list of 2015 winners, visit

Download the Sip Awards Press Release here sipawards2015pr

Lunazul Blanco Review by Steve Coomes

lunazul, blanco, tequila, silverI’m always surprised when someone watches me pour a spirit from a bottle, sip it straight and then shoots me a look that implies I’m a drunk or a daredevil.  “Don’t you want to mix it first?” such inquisitors ask. “I mean, it’s kind of harsh just straight, isn’t it?”

Well, of course, it can be, especially if the spirit has no chance to breathe or it’s not well made.  “No,” I typically reply kindly. “I sip it straight because I want to know exactly what it tastes like. That way I can decide whether to mix it or sip it straight.”

Such answers convince only a few to join me in the exercise, and only a fragment of those ever learn to enjoy unadulterated spirits. But most do seem to get the principle so widely accepted in cooking: that you must know your ingredients intimately in order to cook well. Such logic also is essential to great cocktails.

I had the chance to apply that rationale this summer after receiving a bottle of Lunazul Blanco ($22-$25) on July 2. The date is important since I was invited a Fourth of July party where numerous spirits enthusiasts would bring fun stuff to share. Either this bottle, newly labeled with blue trim, would be a surprise sipper or better served in a cocktail, and I was in the mood to find out.
I started with small glass of it straight, swirled it a bit, let it rest and came back to it after a few minutes. The first sip brought a lot of alcohol, a surprising amount for an 80 proof spirit, and just a hint of agave. It was thin on the palate, lacking body like many blancos, especially those approaching the value category.

I let it breathe about 10 minutes and went back: an herbaceous entry, a little tamer sting, but still lots of alcohol with notes of menthol and peppermint.

lunazul, blanco, tequila, silver Again, I let it sit awhile before coming back after munching on a bit of fresh mozzarella. Expectedly, the cheese softened the alcohol blow and unexpectedly amplified some wintergreen and vaguely fruity notes. Not bad, but again, I gave it a rest of about 15 minutes before coming back to it.

The nose now promised a little agave, some faint roasted pineapple and some musty floral aromas. Intriguing, but not exciting.

Convinced this wasn’t going to be a dynamite sipper, I considered a batch cocktail for the party. Given that most there would be bourbon or beer drinkers, I figured I’d play down the middle with margaritas. Helping my decision was the fact that the Mexican market I visited the day before was selling limes at 10 for a $1, so I bought 30.

I’m a recent convert to margaritas without orange accents: just agave syrup, lime and tequila. Simpler the better. And in this mix, Lunazul Blanco served perfectly. The sharpness I disliked before now knifed through the sour mix and even revealed agave notes I couldn’t detect before. It wasn’t overpowering, I was no longer hot on the palate, it was quite simply, just right.

Quite clearly, cocktails are this tequila’s calling.

* End note: Keep your eyes open for a unique Lunazul offering to hit store shelves in September, a double barrel reposado aged in Larceny Bourbon barrels. I got a pre-bottling sample yesterday from Lunazul’s parent company, Heaven Hill Brands. And just to tease you a little, it is delicious. A full bottle review is forthcoming.


Steve Coomes

Tstephen coomes, steve coomes, Embajador, Tequila, Supreme, Anejo, Review, Steve Coomesequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and traveljournalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky traveland dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online


Dia de los Muertos Tour Schedule

The Dia de los Muertos Tour is even bigger and better than we imagined!  We’re exploring the great Southwest!

First we’ll pay homage to the wonderful creatures who come alive at night to pollenate the desert flora, including agave, then we’ll move on to another one of nature’s wonders, The Grand Canyon.

Here’s our tour schedule and where we’ll be camping.  If you’re near one of our stops, message us on Facebook and we’ll tell you when the pouring begins!


Tequila Aficionado Dia de los Muertos Tour Schedule

Wednesday October 14: Pick up our rental RV at the local Cruise America, pack up and enjoy a nice tequila after an afternoon of loading the RV with food, clothes, computers, cameras and TEQUILAS

Thursday October 15: Drive from San Antonio, TX to Carlsbad, NM, enjoy the bats’ nightly flight with a flight of tequilas fireside.  We’ll be staying at Carlsbad KOA 2 Manthei Road, Highway 285
Carlsbad, NM 88220

carlsbad twitter


Friday October 16: Visit Carlsbad Caverns, then celebrate our escape from the underworld with a glass or two of something ancient

Saturday October 17: Drive to Albuquerque by way of Roswell, NM.  We may just share a drink or two with the aliens.  We’ll be staying at Albuquerque North/Bernalillo KOA 555 South Hill Road
Bernalillo, NM 87004

Sunday October 18: Stay in Albuquerque

Monday October 19: Drive to Phoenix, AZ, relax after the long drive with something fresh.  We’ll be staying at Desert Shadows RV Resort 19203 N. 29th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85027

Tuesday October 20: Film a tequila tasting with the Butterscotch Martini Girls

Wednesday October 21: Lunch with Roger & Alisa Clyne at the Taco Guild (546 E Osborn Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85012), there will be Mexican Moonshine

Thursday October 22: Drive to Grand Canyon National Park and estimate how much tequila it would take to fill it.  We’ll be staying at Trailer Village RV Park in Grand Canyon Village.

Grand Canyon Twitter

Friday October 23: Visit the Grand Canyon and see how many tequilas we can photograph there before the Park Rangers ask what we’re doing.

Saturday October 24: Visit the Grand Canyon more and see if we can get a few elk to pose with some mezcals.

Sunday October 25: Drive to Albuquerque, NM, enjoy some putt-putt golf and tequila at Albuquerque KOA 12400 Skyline Road NE Albuquerque, NM 87123

Monday October 26: Drive to Fort Stockton, TX, celebrate our arrival in our home state.  We’ll stay at Fort Stockton KOA 3604 KOA Rd. Exit 264, Warnock Road, I-10 Fort Stockton, TX 79735 

Tuesday October 27: Drive to San Antonio, TX, unpack all the bottles of dessert we collected and start writing all about the amazing times we had, just in case you aren’t able to join us.

Wednesday October 28: Return our RV to Cruise America and say goodbye to our big traveling buddy, go home and relax with a nice smoky mezcal.

Expo Tequila Tijuana 2015

The fifteenth annual Expo Tequila will be held on Tijuana’s famous Avenida Revolución from October 14th through the 18th.

Since its inception, this event has been used by the industry to introduce new brands and to test the U.S. market, so there’s always something new and rare to find.

This year promises to be the largest Expo Tequila ever, with about one hundred distillers of tequila, mezcal, bacanora, and sotol in attendance as well as a wide variety of traditional musicians and dancers scheduled to perform throughout the five days of the event.

expo tequila

The wet blanket on these festivities has always been the U.S. Customs limit of bringing only one liter back home. To get around that, a Tijuana hotel will also store its guests’ purchases so that they might be brought home at a later date. Its guests may buy as many bottles as they wish – make good use of the Expo Tequila – and bring their booty across the border at their leisure.

The hotel La Villa de Zaragoza is offering a special package for either of the two busiest days of the event. For $49.95 per person, double occupancy, that hotel’s guests can receive a night’s lodging with Sunday brunch (Saturday October 17th) or a full American breakfast (Friday the 16th), complimentary storage for their bottles, and a lunch at the hot new “urban cuisine” food court Colectivo Nueve.

During the economic downturn at the beginning of this century, most of the low-end souvenir shops went out of business, leaving the commercial passageways of Avenida Revolución unoccupied. A group of young graduates of Tijuana’s cooking schools banded together to revive one of those “pasajes” by creating a food-court collective offering the cuisines of their grandparents, who settled Tijuana during the twentieth century. Visitors may choose among Lebanese, Italian, Japanese, and Argentinean offerings as well as artisan cheeses, burgers, beers and wines, and Mexican seafood and Mexican “auteur” dishes.

You can take advantage of the Expo Tequila package by reserving on-line through Facebook here.
Date(s) of Event: October 16-17, 2015
Time of Event: 2:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Avenida Revolucion, Tijuana BC

Are you going to Expo Tequila this year?  

If so, be sure to take plenty of photos and tag Tequila Aficionado on

Facebook (@tequilaaficionado),

Twitter (@tequilaaficion) and

Instagram (@tequilaaficionado)!


Thank GAD for Gracías A Dios Mezcal

[Long before the general public does, Tequila Aficionado Media often gets tipped off about new agave spirits brands that will be entering the market.  One such tip was for Gracías A Dios (GAD) mezcal.  We had no idea that we would bump into them during the San Antonio Cocktail Conference in mid- January, 2015.  Of course, we had to invite the co-founders to HQ to learn more about this hot mezcal label making amazing traction across the country.]


GAD To Meet You!


You can’t help but get wrapped up in the charm of Gracías A Dios mezcal.  You also can’t help but be drawn in by the infectious enthusiasm of its co-founders, Pablo López, Enrique Jimenez and Xaime Niembro.

Here, the trio introduce themselves.

Whose Idea Was It?

From a pure love of drinking mezcal, to owning a mezcalería (mezcal bar), to making lofty plans for the future, the three friends tell how their mezcal brand was born.

Invoking the Name Of GAD

The phrase, “gracias a Dios” (thank God) has been uttered by families in Mexico and throughout Latin America since the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors.

In this clip, the friends give their explanation behind the name of their mezcal.

Maestro Mezcalero de Matatlán


In the town of Santiago Matatlán, considered the world capital of mezcal in Oaxaca, lives Oscar Hernández, the force behind Gracías A Dios.  A third generation Maestro Mezcalero, or Alchemist as Enrique refers to him, he learned his craft from the young age of eight years old.

The trio discuss how they came across such a talented distiller.


Distilling from espadín agave at first, it wasn’t until Oscar met with the co-founders of Gracías A Dios, that he considered producing mezcals made from other types of agave.

Enrique and Xaime continue relating Oscar’s fascinating personal history.

Xaime expounds further on why they chose to work with Oscar Hernández, then demonstrates the purity of GAD’s specialty mezcals made from tepextate and cuixe agave.

The GAD Line Up

Pablo, Enrique and Xaime give us the rundown of Gracías A Dios’ core line, what type of barrels they use for aging, and how they decided on the proof of each of the expressions.

True Small Batches

Xaime describes the labeling plans for the Tepextate and Cuixe expressions and how they will tie in to a Texas-Oaxaca relationship.

Organic Investments

Each of Gracías A Dios’ agave expressions are certified organic.  Xaime details what investments and improvements were made to the brand’s palenque to meet those standards.

Xaime reveals what it takes to maintain GAD’s organic certification, including the innovative improvements made to the brand’s palenque that were invented by Oscar himself.

Wild Harvesting

Xaime chronicles each of GAD’s expressions and then illustrates the difficulty in harvesting wild tobalá.

Image Reboot

GAD_espadinOutside of their mezcalería, the partners had virtually no background in the
spirits sector.  Keenly aware of their limitations, they met with industry consultants for advice.

In this segment, Pablo, Enrique and Xaime recall their experience in bringing GAD to market, and how they managed to rebuild their entire initial concept and image from the bottom up.

These three amigos are the first to admit that Gracías A Dios is still a work-in-progress and are proactively solving challenges that unexpectedly crop up such as using synthetic corks versus imported ones from Portugal, and labeling special edition batches.

Love and Passion Will Take You Places

The GAD triad disclose how working together to get Gracías A Dios into the market has deeply and completely changed their lives.

GAD_shotThe partners all agree that their passion for great mezcal–long before it became trendy–is what fuels their love for GAD.

Cheers For Tomorrow

Xaime and his partners explain how their program, Cheers For Tomorrow, will tackle the Mezcal Industry’s sustainability issues and how the use of biofuel will play an important part of their palenque.

Continuing, Niembro describes how the used bagazo (solid waste) is recycled as an insulator during the roasting of agave piñas.

Sharing the Mezcal Experience


Long term plans for the group and the land surrounding their palenque include a boutique hotel, restaurant, and a complete mezcal experience for visitors.

In this snippet, the trio discuss where they see themselves in five years and spill the beans on a specially blended Mezcal Del Cura that’s in the works.

Pablo and Enrique continue the conversation by revealing GAD’s plans for replanting different types of maguey and other projects within the region of their palenque.

Free Your Mind–And Your Taste Buds!

Team GAD divulge the one thing that they would like their audience to know about Gracías A Dios mezcal.

Pablo, Xaime, and Enrique have no intention of changing their methods create a more industrialized mezcal.  Their long term mission remains staunchly intact–

To get their small batches to the right audience who will honestly and passionately cherish and appreciate them as much as they do.

Gracías a Dios!