Women In The Bacanora Industry: Laura Espinoza Alonso

Laura Espinoza Alonso is currently the president of the Association of Women of Bacanora and Mexican Maguey in the state of Sonora, Mexico.  With more than 30 female members from all levels of business, she is charged with overseeing the bright future of the burgeoning Bacanora Industry.

Educated in both the United States and Mexico, Espinoza Alonso returned to her hometown and was inspired to preserve its nearly lost culture.

The magic and rich history of Sonora’s cladestine distillate, along with its obscure vinatas (distilleries), were in need of attention in order to thrive not just nationally, but internationally, too.  But first, Laura had to earn the trust of the producers, themselves.

Here’s where Laura Espinoza Alonso’s story begins with her enlightening answers to our questionnaire.

 

Questions for Women In Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Series

 

–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 Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries?)

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

En la historia de la industria de los destilados de Agave en México, es bien sabido que  ha sido dominada por los hombres a través de los años. Aunque en los años recientes los roles de la mujer han avanzado en la brecha de género, específicamente en  esta agroindustria, la incursión de la mujeres ha sido poca.

 

[Over the years it has been well documented that the Mexican Agave Distillate Industries have been historically dominated by men.  Even though in recent years the roles of women have advanced in the gender gap, the incursion of women, specifically in agroindustry, has been few.]

Un ejemplo claro es la participación de la mujer en la industria tequilera, que a pesar que ya llevan 45 años con la declaratoria de Denominación de Origen, únicamente un 5% de las microempresas están en manos de mujeres.  De igual manera sucede en la industria del mezcal, aunque considero mayor participación de la mujer en esta industria.

[One clear example is the participation of women in the Tequila Industry.  Despite having the declaration of the Denomination of Origin for 45 years, only 5% of micro-distilleries are in the hands of women.  The same has ocurred in mezcal, although it is considered to have more female participation in that industry.]

Ahora, mi experiencia como mujer  en la industria del bacanora ha sido un gran aprendizaje pero a la vez todo un reto. Empezó cuando regresé a mi pueblo llamado Bacanora en Sonora de Estados Unidos hace poco más de 15 años con la intención de conocer las tradiciones y cultura de mi pueblo me encontré con el bacanora, una bebida artesanal, emblemática del estado de Sonora y que además lleva el nombre de mi municipio lo que me generó un gran interés y el compromiso  de promoverla para que sea conocida en todo el mundo.

[

Now, my experience as a woman in the Bacanora Industry has been a great learning experience, while at the same time, challenging.  It all started when I returned to my hometown of Bacanora in Sonora from the United States, just over 15 years ago.  With the intent of learning the traditions and culture of my hometown, I encountered Bacanora, an artisanal beverage that is emblematic of the state of Sonora, and named after my municipality.  It generated a great interest and commitment within me to promote it to the entire world.]

Reitero, no fue nada fácil como Mujer ganarme la confianza de los vinateros que destilaban bacanora para que compartieran sus  conocimientos conmigo y me hablaron de sus historias de las cuales me fui interesando cada vez más. Me llevo tiempo entender como 77 años de prohibición por parte del gobierno no permitió el desarrollo de esta industria del bacanora y que a pesar de ello logró subsistir. Desde entonces me he dedicado a impulsar esta industria para que logremos cruzar las fronteras y que en México y el extranjero tengan la oportunidad de degustar una bebida exquisita artesanal.

[To reiterate, as a woman it wasn’t easy gaining the confidence of the vinateros (bacanora producers) to share their knowledge with me.  Each time they told me their stories and histories, I became even more interested.  It took me time to understand how 77 years of prohibition by the government prevented the development of the bacanora industry.  Despite that, it still managed to survive.  Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to propel this industry forward across borders so that in Mexico, as well as abroad, others may have the opportunity to taste this exquisite artisanal beverage.]

 

Women In The Bacanora Industry: Laura Espinoza Alonso

–How have you been able to change things within the Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries?

 

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

 

Tuve la oportunidad de incursionar en la política y participar en propuestas de reforma de leyes que ayudarán a los productores de mi municipio y todos los de la Denominación de Origen a formalizar sus fábricas de bacanora (Vinatas), trabajé en áreas donde llevamos capacitación en plantaciones y también buscar recursos para infraestructura y equipamiento para sus fábricas con el fin de que mejoraran sus procesos de tal manera que puedan comercializar sus productos.

 

[I had the opportunity to venture into politics and to participate in the proposing of legal reforms that would help the producers of my municipality, and throughout the Denomination of Origin, to formalize their bacanora factories (vinatas).  I worked in areas where we brought training in planting, and found resources for infrastructure and equipment for their factories so that they could improve their procedures in order to comercialize their products.]

 

 

–What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries?

 

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

 

Considero que las mujeres tenemos una gran oportunidad de crecer dentro de la industria del bacanora. Aunque el bacanora obtuvo su declaratoria de Denominación de Origen hace ya 18 años, es hasta hoy que realmente se está dando a conocer en el mercado y gracias también a mujeres que han trabajado arduamente en la comercialización. Prueba de ello, es nuestra Asociación de Mujeres del Bacanora y Maguey de México en Sonora con más de 30 mujeres involucradas en los diferentes eslabones de la cadena y   de la cual soy Presidenta.

 

[I consider that women have a great opportunity to grow within the Bacanora Industry.  Even though bacanora’s Denomination of Origin was declared 18 years ago, it is only just now being recognized in the marketplace thanks to women who have worked arduously to commercialize it.  Proof of this is our Association of Women of Bacanora and Mexican Maguey in Sonora with more than 30 women involved in different links of the supply chain, and of which I am the president.]

 

What facets of the Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries would you like to see change?

 

(¿Qué cosas gustaría cambiado?)

 

Definitivamente me gustaría tener más participación de mujeres en la industria del bacanora; pero además quiero que esta industria sea sustentable con el medio ambiente, crear la cultura de la plantación de agave de tal manera que podamos tener la materia prima suficiente para salir al extranjero con nuestro producto artesanal pero con calidad.

 

[I’d definitely like to see more participation by women in the Bacanora Industry.  In addition, I want this industry to be environmentally sustainable.  To create a culture of agave planting in such a way that there is always enough prime material so that we can export our quality artisanal product abroad.]

 

–Do you approve of how Tequila/Mezcal brands are currently marketing themselves?

(Esta Ud de acuerdo con la comercialización de marcas de tequilas o mezcales, hoy en dia?)

 

Si, definitivamente el tequila y el mezcal están comercializando de una manera excelente sus productos que el nivel de crecimiento anual es sorprendente. Por lo que, nosotros debemos aprender de sus aciertos y también de sus fracasos. Trabajaremos para sentar las bases y no ser víctimas del propio éxito como le ha pasado el mezcal.

 

[Yes, Tequila and Mezcal are definitely marketing their products in an excellent manner that the level of annual growth is surprising. This is why we should learn from their wise moves, as well as their failures. We will lay the groundwork so as not to become victims of our success like mezcal has.]

 

–Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries 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, Mezcal o Bacanora en una forma u otra?)

 

Si, de no tener miedo de ser parte de una industria donde predominan los  hombres. También nosotras podemos aportar mucho para sacar adelante los destilados y podemos pertenecer a cualquier eslabón de la cadena o todos. Destilamos tradición, es nuestra cultura y también nuestro orgullo.

 

[Yes, not to be afraid to be part of an industry dominated by men.  We can contribute a lot to getting these distillates off the ground, and to be a part of any link of the supply chain, or all of them.  We distill tradition; it’s our culture and our pride.]

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Quo Vadis Tequila? The Art of Keeping the Proven and Creating the New

A guest interview with Alejandro Cuevas Romo of Excelencia Tequilera de Jalisco and Tequila Huizache

Tequila stands between two fronts: There is the clichéd rejection of a commercialized product at the expense of quality and then the traditional admiration of a passionate masterpiece that can no longer meet the demand of the world markets in this form. As always, the truth lies somewhere in between. Let us embark on a search. A conversation with Alejandro Cuevas Romo, descendant of one of the oldest tequila families – and pioneer of a new view on things.

 

Q: Hello Alejandro. Please introduce yourself.

 

Quo Vadis Tequila? The Art of Keeping the Proven and Creating the New https://wp.me/p3u1xi-6gP

A: My name is Alejandro Cuevas Romo and I’m the operations manager for Excelencia Tequilera de Jalisco and Tequila Huizache. We are a family owned business located in Amatitán Jalisco, Mexico. ETJ  is basically composed of two separate companies, one is an agro-industrial company, focused on the cultivation and sale of Blue Agave, and the second company is focused on the distillation and commercialization of 100% Agave Tequila. Our family (Romo de la Peña) has a long tradition in the production of Tequila in this region, I think is probably one of the oldest, with a history dating back to the early 1800´s , although we use 1870 as the oficial date because that’s when Tequila Herradura was founded, but we know it was actually earlier than that.

As you may know Tequila Herradura is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, it was founded and managed by my family until 2007 when it was finally sold to Brown Forman Corporation.

Excelencia Tequilera de Jalisco started before that, because my mother and my aunt actually sold their shares of Herradura in the late 90s. They took the lands they had  inherited and started a new company, at first just to cultivate and sale agave, but later they decided to produce tequila and continue with the family tradition.

 

Q: So your core business is not the production of Tequila Huizache but rather the cultivation and distribution of raw materials to other producers and brands? Can you briefly explain the business of Excelencia Tequilera de Jalisco?

 

A: That´s correct, our core business is the cultivation of  high quality Blue Agave, our agave is used by many prestigious brands to make their tequilas. Our lands are located in the valley of Amatitán near the Tequila Volcano from which the drink takes its name. This region has the ideal climate for agave production. We also sell tequila as a finished product to other brands.  

Naturally for us it was very important to have our own brand, something that we could be proud of, something that represented our interpretation of the national drink of Mexico. As a tequila making family we felt the need to continue, and thats how Tequila Huizache started.

 

Quo Vadis Tequila? The Art of Keeping the Proven and Creating the New https://wp.me/p3u1xi-6gPQ: Let’s get back to Tequila Huizache. How did you get the idea for the Origen Reposado?

A: Well our goal has always been to keep perfecting our tequilas with a forward thinking mentality. Tequila has become a world wide drink, ove 70% of tequila production is exported to other countries this days. This has changed tequila in a good way, todays consumers that appreciate quality demand more complex and refined products. We knew that through the aging process we could create something interesting, a different reposado with unique characteristics. We import our oak barrels from France, the US and Hungary, the highest quality we can get, and then we hand pick the best for Huizache Origen. They are all oak barres but obviously they come from different forests and each gives a different flavor, by blending them we achieve Origen´s distinctive sweetness and smoothness.

 

Q: Why does the Origen Reposado have only 35% alcohol vol. In some tests and reports the rather low alcohol content is seen as a point of criticism.

 

A:  Again is all about having choices, we wanted Huizache Origen to be enjoyed neat, without having to mix it into a cocktail , the same way you enjoy a good whisky. We found that 35% Alc. Vol. gave you a very pleasing experience and that it appealed to a wider group that wouldn’t normally drink straight tequila.

I mean if you want something stronger you can always have our blanco or reposado, I think people should always follow their senses and drink what they like, don’t worry about the numbers.

 

Q: Let us come to the question: Production process at Tequila Huizache.

 

Quo Vadis Tequila? The Art of Keeping the Proven and Creating the New https://wp.me/p3u1xi-6gP

A:  As I mentioned earlier we are a forward thinking company when it comes to production. Is great to have the tradition and knowledge because the accumulated experience tells you what works, what doesn’t and what can be improved. Before deciding which process we where going to use, we ran several test in different facilities, experimenting with both traditional process as well as the latest technologies. In the end we decided to go for the modern approach.

So the most important thing is to start with the best agave posible, and the agave has to be at least 7 years old. Fortunately we grow our own and can hand pick it for our production. Then we use the diffuser for the extraction and autoclaves for the cooking process, fermentation is done using yeast that we specially developed from our own agaves, this also took a lot of trial and error to get it right. Distillation is done using the 2 step distillation process in stainless steel stills, and finally aging in selected oak barrels.

Is a very standard, modern process of producing tequila, but the important thing is to tweak each step of the production and use the best materials available to ensure the highest quality possible using this methods.

 

Q: So you use the “evil” diffuser? The opinions about this black box machine are (almost) exclusively negative. How does the use of such a modern technology fit to your high demands on quality and taste?

 

A: Yes I see the diffuser has a bad reputation in forums and with some “experts”, and I can understand why. Honestly many horrible tequilas are done using this machine, but that’s not the fault of the diffuser, you can make good or bad tequila using any method, you just have to be willing to put the extra effort and care. In some 150 years of making tequila, my family has probably used every single method available at one point or another, and we are convinced that today we are making the best tequila we can. We like the diffuser because you get maximum extraction from your agaves, agave is expensive and it takes a long time to grow, so maximizing your efficiency makes sense. This also allows our tequila to be accessible to more people. At the end of the day the proof is in the final product, our tequilas have always been favored in blind testings and have won many awards.

I would like to encourage your readers to trust their senses more, if it tastes good, smells good, and doesn’t  give you a head ache, is probably a good product.

Having said that, is true that using the more traditional method of steam ovens produces a distinctive taste that many find appealing. We also like this method and used it for many years in Herradura. Maybe we will use it in the future for a different line of tequilas, who knows.

 

Q: I understand. In contrast to the production of Tequila with modern means like Diffuser or Autoclave there are many other producers (also big producers) who advertise with – I call it “Tequila romance” moody pictures and thus convey emotions of craftsmanship and tradition. There I see traditional ovens, load donkeys and stone mills. To what extent can such an idea even be maintained if, for example, you have to produce several hundred thousand or even millions of litres of tequila and keep a constant taste level? How can this work?

 

A: There are indeed small producers who value the old ways of doing things and use these methods, and there is definitely a consumer that also values this products. But when you are talking about big brands selling millions of liters, is definitely just a marketing strategy to appeal to those consumers. Only a small part of their production is done this way, in order to keep the dream alive and have it certified by the CRT, but the bulk of their production is done the modern way.

 

Q: This means that if you pack all your knowledge about Tequila together, you can produce a high-quality Tequila that meets the highest demands, is affordable for the end customer and has not been modified with any additives. Can you call this the Mission of Tequila Huizache?

 

A: Well that pretty much sums up what our brand is about, I would add that we do this because we love it, we would never sell a product that we didn’t drink ourselves. We don’t need to hide our production process and we don’t make up fancy marketing stories.

 

Q: Let´s now focus on the raw material, the Blue Agave. We are currently reading more and more reports about rising prices for agaves, even a peak for 1 kilo of agave. Beam Suntory Germany, for example, stopped selling Sauza Tequila in Germany at the beginning of this year due to the growing demand for tequila with a limited supply of agaves. Is there another agaves crisis and if so, how do you react at Tequila Huizache?

 

A: Yes there is a scarcity of agave at the moment but is temporal. A few years ago a large portion of the agave inventory was whipped out due to climate changes. Fortunately our inventory wasn’t affected so we have been able to capitalize on this problem. As a result agave prices have gone trough the roof and that has impacted the entire industry. But this is temporal and prices will stabilize in a year or two.

We often forget how fragile our food supplies are and how vulnerable they are to climate changes.

 

Q: There is another special Tequila variety that you produce ultra strictly limited. Can you please tell us what kind of brand it is?

 

A:I guess you are talking about the San José brand… San José del Refugio is the name of the old family hacienda where Herradura was founded and where my family lived for many generations. We use this brand for our most rare tequila. As I mentioned before we are very particular about the barrels we use, they all go through a carefully inspection and grading system, occasionally we find barrels that are truly exceptional, the aromas and characteristics are unique, and I’m talking about maybe 1 barrel in a lot of 250 barrels. These barrels we use for our personal tequilas, traditionally just for family and friends, but everybody was always asking if they could buy that tequila, so we decided to start selling it as a special edition. Its an extra añejo, aged for about four years, and is a single barrel so unfortunately only about 500 – 1000 bottles per year can be sold, depending on the barrels we find. We don’t really advertise it much because of this.

 

Q: What do you think of Cristalino Tequilas from a tequila experts perspective?

 

A: From a commercial point view, it has been a huge success. Most cristalinos are añejos, and traditionally añejos where the lowest sales in terms of volume, by turning them into cristalino you have created a new blanco of sorts, and blanco is the highest selling category in terms of volume, plus you add value to the product. Is a brilliant move.

In terms of the taste, aromas and characteristics I don’t think they are very good.

We spent about a year and a half experimenting, trying to find a formula that we liked, but non of the tests we did passed our testing panel. They just don’t fit our view of what makes a great tequila. The problem is that in order to remove the color from the añejo you have to filter the tequila using a carbon or charcoal filter, this removes the color but also removes many of the flavors and aromas you worked so hard to achieve in the aging process. The result is a very neutral and smooth tequila, to compensate for this most brands add natural flavors to sweeten it and make it more palatable. We don’t like that, we don’t use any additives or sweeteners in any of our tequilas. So for the time being we won’t produce cristalino unless we find a way to keep all the flavors of the aging process.

 

Q: What comes next from Tequila Huizache?

 

A: Well the most important thing happening is that we started distribution of our products in Germany and hopefully the EU soon. For this propose we are working with our distributor on the redesign of all our presentations and will also introduce our first Huizache Añejo. Germany and Europe in general have the richest tradition in wines and spirits, and people have a very developed palates. We are exited to share our tequila tradition with enthusiast that appreciate the good things in life.

 

Q: Thank you very much.

A: My pleasure.

 

This interview was conducted by Markus Nikowitsch and published in translated version (german) on the Weblog about-tequila.de on 25th of April 2019.

 

Huizache Blanco Tequila Review

Huizache Reposado Tequila Review

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Women In The Tequila Industry: Elle France

From Babes to Boss Ladies: Women In The Tequila Industry: Elle France and Tanya Tucker https://amzn.to/2xAnHq2

 

Elle France, the creative mind behind Cosa Salvaje tequila, has spent the better part of her entrepreneurial  life bringing people together.

As a much sought after matchmaker, dating columnist and consultant, Elle is now making it her mission to help folks from all walks of life to fall in love with tequila, all over again.

France designed Cosa Salvaje (Wild Thing, in English) to be a flavorful, ultra-premium sipping tequila.

The liquid is encased in an attractive leather-laden bottle surrounded by enticing and seductive photos that demand attention from both sexes.

Elle’s vision in conceiving Cosa Salvaje was to promote a sense of nostalgia and excitement among tequila drinkers ready for a new experience.

A partnership with country music legend Tanya Tucker in mid-March 2019, ensures that Elle France and Cosa Salvaje will continue to bring even more people together to the pleasures of sipping tequila.

We welcome Elle France to our gallery of Tequila Boss Ladies with her answers to our short questionnaire.

***

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 Tequila?)

EF:  It is definitely a man’s world, but for me that is where I am my best.  I never approached this from a woman’s point of view, just from a passion.  I work well with men, and I am eager to learn from them.  I feel like Tequila is made for a woman, the smell, the taste…… To me is very feminine and Sexy!

From Babes to Boss Ladies: Women In The Tequila Industry: Elle France and Tanya Tucker https://amzn.to/2xAnHq2

Not knowing anyone in the tequila industry and taking a leap of faith, from a girl who just loves to drink tequila.

My experiences with Mexico and the men, has been nothing but positive and inspiring.  Like everything in life, if you work hard, stay true to your vision you will eventually break through.  The people that I’ve met that have helped make this happen in Mexico which has now become family, have made this one of my most exciting adventures I have ever been on.

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

EF:  I am not sure I am there yet on changing things, more how the Tequila world has changed me. I do think that I am opening the doors for future entrepreneurs and showing them that it can be done. I am still on the cusp of this learning process myself. I am excited about the opportunity and to see where I can go.

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

EF:  I see the future for woman in the tequila industry as positive. I think woman have a good grasp on passion, building relationships and the true beauty of the creation of tequila.

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

 

EF:  Yes I love how the tequila industry is now marketing themselves. I think people are now starting to see whet Tequila is all about. Most people had a certain perception about Tequila, not really even knowing all the different tastes that it can have. Social media has made the world much more aware about the creation, the dedication and the passion in making Tequila.

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?

EF:  I think woman in general should not hold back, if you fall in love with your passion it will lead you to a great view of life.  Stay humble!

My ambition was to make sure that even non-tequila drinkers would enjoy it. I wanted to create a sipping tequila. My hope for people is to enjoy the passion and appreciate our hard work in producing a tequila that you needn’t mix it with anything. I was driven to harvest & create authentic tequila while emitting a lifestyle, which exceeds all other Ultra-Premium Tequilas.

My Vision with Cosa Salvaje is to bring people together with music, laughter, dancing (my favorite), good friends and a true love for tequila. My goal for people, when they see and touch Cosa Salvaje, is to have it immediately take them to that happy place where they want to be. As though you hear a song that your mind and body touches those memories, which recalls a special life’s moment. A recollection that provokes an instant high!

My partnership with Tanya Tucker I am very excited about. Tanya has a true love for Cosa Salvaje and will bring excitement to the brand!

***

From Babes to Boss Ladies: Women In The Tequila Industry: Elle France and Tanya Tucker https://amzn.to/2xAnHq2

Get Your Copy of the book From Babes to Boss Ladies

Available–

NOW!

 

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Interview with Bill Foss of Suavecito Tequila

Mike Morales: Hi, I’m Mike Morales. You’re watching a special edition of Open Bar on Tequila Aficionado Media on all of our platforms. I am here in San Antonio, and that gentleman is… Go ahead, tell us who you are, [chuckle] mystery guest.

[laughter]

Bill Foss: I’m Bill Foss, the owner and maker of Suavecito Tequila.

Mike Morales: Suavecito Tequila, ladies and gentleman. This is the new packaging, new iteration, you might… For those of you who have been following Tequila Aficionado Media, you might remember that we talked about Suavecito and it was a Brand of Promise winner and nominee back in 2013. This has been quite a long journey for you, Bill. I have… This iteration is one of my favorites. I love this, with the… This is the Anejo version, and I just… I love the packaging. What… Let me ask you, Bill, why tequila? What made you go, “Hey, I think I’ll just make a tequila?”

[laughter]

Bill Foss: Well, it’s not quite that simple. I was closing down my big business in Chicago about 17, 18 years ago. I was gonna kinda semi-retire, and my warehouse manager came up to me one day and just asked me if I wanted to be a partner with him in an Agave farm in Mexico. I said no, I didn’t know anything about Agave, but I went home and realized I was gonna be moving to Indianapolis, where there were kids and grandkids, but I didn’t know anybody in Indianapolis except the kids. So I hopped on a plane, flew to Guadalajara, and three days later, I owned an Agave farm.

Mike Morales: Oh… [laughter] Wow! So how’s retirement now, Bill?

[laughter]

Bill Foss: Yeah, right.

[laughter]

Mike Morales: Have you discovered that this is really… This is a time-consuming industry? I mean, the tequila industry right now is… Well, you’ve seen it, it seems like every year it just goes… It goes faster and faster, the consumption, the awareness. What have you seen since you started to… Now, this was back in… What year it was that you became partners?

Bill Foss: I actually bought the farm 18 years ago, but then [laughter] you have to grow your plant six to eight years before you can harvest them.

Mike Morales: Right.

Bill Foss: I wasn’t gonna make tequila at first. I was just gonna sell the Agave. But my first crop became available in 2008 and then 2009, and of course, when the American economy crashed, the Mexicans are kinda screwed, because they count on us for so much…

Mike Morales: Right.

Bill Foss: And I couldn’t sell any of my plants.

Mike Morales: Wow. Wow. So…

Bill Foss: So I had some ideas on how to make a different tequila than what the Mexican community does, and so, I started putting my ideas and my thoughts together, and we came up with just a fantastic product, Suavecito, as you know.

Mike Morales: Yes, yeah. Now, you know what I really, really enjoyed about Suavecito. First of all, for those of you who have not had it, this is a 36%… 35% alcohol by Volume, 70 Proof. Traditionally, in the industry, in the business, this is known as Mexican bottling, Mexican ABV. Because, typically, some of the… It’s not uncommon that some of these brands come in at 35-38 ABV, why did you decide to come into the States with a less alcohol by volume?

Bill Foss: Well, as you just pointed out, in America, the Tequilas are 40% alcohol, but as you just said, in Mexico, they’re 35%-38% alcohol. The Mexicans don’t drink 40% alcohol tequila, and I wanted Suavecito to be more Mexican-authentic, that’s what I…

Mike Morales: Oh, okay. Yeah, that makes total sense to me. And I know that in our tastings with many other brands, it’s not uncommon. For instance, I’ve talked with our founder Alex Perez many times and other of our tasters, we now have grown… We have six tasters in the US, and one in the UK, ’cause we have so many brands that we do tastings for. And I’ve talked to these guys before and our founder, and I said, “You know, I don’t know why, but sometimes it’s not uncommon that liquors below 80 Proof and sometimes higher Proof to me tastes better.” And, you know, that’s generally the feeling. A lot of the guys like that, that 110, 100 Proof, 92 Proof, whatever, and… But I found that some of the liqueurs that come in at lower ABVs are very tasty and don’t lose a lot of the character.

Bill Foss: No, I agree totally. People that taste Suavecito, they know it’s a tequila. But besides the little less alcohol content, I’m the only tequila that takes 2% Agave nectar and I put it back into the tequila. And it’s that 2% Agave nectar that eliminates the burn going down your throat, and makes Suavecito… That’s why we brand it as the world’s smoothest tequila. I figure I’ve given over 10,000 samples in the last eight years, and I’ve never had even one person not agree that we’re the smoothest tequila they’ve ever had.

Mike Morales: Do you ever wonder why most other brands aren’t following this trend?

Bill Foss: Well, that’s what’s worrying me. [chuckle] I wanna get Suavecito to be a National Tequila as quickly as possible, so that that doesn’t happen…

Mike Morales: So…

Bill Foss: Or it happens later.

Mike Morales: Or happens later. Yeah, so that you’re leading the pack, as opposed to the other way around, ’cause you guys are… To my knowledge, at the time that we did this tasting for Suavecito, what I loved, first of all, is that… What you mentioned, the 2% of the Agave nectar, you were very upfront with that on your labeling, and I really like that in an age now where people are looking for authenticity and transparency. I loved it that, back then, you guys were doing that as a rule. I think that a lot of it had to do with, of course, the laws of the labeling as well, but you weren’t hiding anything. And, to my knowledge, there’s only one other tequila that does that, but they do it on their aged spirit. So it’s not across the board. So, to that end, we were talking about wanting to be a leader in the industry as fast as possible, and you’ve been at this stuff 18 years now, so what…

Bill Foss: I’ve only been making Suavecito for eight, though.

Mike Morales: Eight years. Well…

Bill Foss: I’ve had the Agave farm for 18 years, but we’ve only been selling Suavecito for eight, but we have been doing it for eight years.

Mike Morales: Yeah. Well, you know, with brands, the way they’ve been coming in fast and furious lately, if you pass that five year threshold, from what I’ve seen on the marketing side of it, you’re sitting pretty good, you’re a brand to be reckoned with. So, Suavecito certainly has had… You’re headed almost to your 10th year now. So, tell us about something… There’s an exciting situation that’s happening with Suavecito that you’re about to start. As you folks are watching, this is going to be starting tomorrow, correct?

Bill Foss: Right.

Mike Morales: Tell the folks out there exactly what’s going on with Suavecito at this point.

Bill Foss: Sure, Mike. What’s happened is everybody… Once people taste Suavecito, they love it, okay, and they develop a compassion for it. And, recently, I’ve been getting feedback from our folks, asking how they could participate in Suavecito, is there any chance they could invest in Suavecito? And so, we put together a crowdfunding campaign. So, for as little as $100, somebody can own one share of our stock, okay, for that little…

Mike Morales: Holy cow.

Bill Foss: Yeah. So we’re putting… The crowdfunding campaign starts tomorrow. They’ll be able to go right to crowdfunding, or go to our website, and our website will have directions on how to get to the crowdfunding website, so that you can see… We have all different types of levels of investment, from a couple of hundred bucks to $20,000, and different… And we give different awards and surprises and gifts, depending upon what level you decide you wanna invest in Suavecito, but what we’re… Our goal is to get hundreds, maybe even a thousand investors, who now are our ambassadors. Once you own a little bit of stock in a company, you’re gonna tell… You’re gonna… Number one, you’re gonna brag about it, if it’s as good a tequila as Suavecito, and then you’re gonna tell your friends, your family, you’re gonna… Your neighbors. And that’s what we’re looking for, we’re looking to really develop ambassadors all around the country.

Mike Morales: That… You know, it’s interesting that you mentioned the crowdfunding situation, because I’ve only come across very, very few brands who are doing that. One was a Mezcal, the other one was a brand that was… These tend to be very successful, which, if I was a betting man, I would probably do the same thing. Now, when this interview airs, we will have a link directly to the crowdfunding campaign, so I… In fact, when you see the text of this interview, you’ll see it… You’ll see where you can go directly. If you’ve had Suavecito before, and it is available here in Texas. I’m in San Antonio. Where are you… You’re in Denver right now, is that correct?

Bill Foss: Correct, I’m in Denver, that’s our headquarters.

Mike Morales: Okay.

Bill Foss: But we’re in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, we just opened up those cities in Texas a year ago.

Mike Morales: Yes.

Bill Foss: We’re real big in Cleveland, in Kansas City, Indianapolis. We just opened up South Carolina. I had a two-story restaurant owner call me up out of the… From South Carolina, here I am in Denver, and he said, “We’ve heard so much about your tequila, and we’re opening up our new restaurant right in Myrtle Beach on the ocean. We wanna have Suavecito in at least five of our specialty cocktails… ”

Mike Morales: Oh, my gosh.

Bill Foss: “How soon can you launch sales in South Carolina?” [chuckle] And I said, “Well… ”

Mike Morales: Holy cow.

Bill Foss: That was a holy cow. People around the country… Well, the reason I’m in Texas, I got a phone call a year… About a year-and-a-half ago from a guy who said, “Hey, we’ve heard about your tequila down here in Austin.” I said, “You’ve heard about my tequila in Austin? How’d you hear about it down there?” He said, “Would you please send us three bottles?” So I did. A week later, I get a phone call from a lady. She said, “Hi, my brother and I are the owners of Twin Liquors, here in Central Texas. We own 85 liquor stores in Central Texas. They’ve been family-owned for 86 years… ”

Mike Morales: Wow.

Bill Foss: “And, for 86 years, we’ve been selling tequila. And Mr. Foss, I’ve gotta tell you, we’ve never had a tequila as good as Suavecito. How soon can you come down to Austin, Texas and talk with us?” “Well… ” I said, “You’ve got 86 stores, I’ll be there tomorrow.”

[laughter]

Mike Morales: Well, you know, I was so glad to have had one… Be one of the first ones to actually review Suavecito, and that was one of the rare moments when Alex, our founder and myself were actually in the same state, and we actually could do this side-by-side in the same room, ’cause most often we do this over Skype, and people who are watching us now will see me on one screen and you on the other side of the screen. And we do a lot of these, as I said, consistently, and I was so glad. We were really, really impressed with a lot of the things that was going on with not only the labeling but the packaging, the flavor profile, it was… And I love the transparency, I think that’s really important… And it’s also rare that… I guess, the… My question to you is, this is an estate-grown tequila. I mean, you’re growing your own Agave for this particular brand, so you’re actually in quite a position that some of the other startup brands don’t find themselves in right now, ’cause a lot of folks, if you’ve been paying attention, we’re in the middle of an Agave crisis right here, and not that things are as super easy for you, but at least you have your own source, and that says a lot. That’s big this time in the history of tequila.

Bill Foss: Oh, I could say… It’s not only big. My farm is up in the mountains. My farm is at a 7000 foot altitude, okay? So I have mountain-grown agave, like mountain-grown coffee, mountain-grown grapes, they’re superior to the lowlands Agave. So besides the fact that I’m the only guy that adds 2% Agave nectar, I’m in the top 8% or 9% of all tequilas just because of my plants.

Mike Morales: Wow. And have you learned in all… In the years that you’ve been partnered with… What have you learned… The challenges that you’ve learned about growing your own Agave? That must be something really… You must have gone to school again to learn all that stuff.

[chuckle]

Bill Foss: Well, almost, almost. When I went to Mexico to look for farms, I visited four or five farms one day, then visited four or five farms another day, and most everybody’s plants were about the same size. Occasionally, guys would have much taller plants and they would credit it to manure. [chuckle] They would all credit it that they used chicken manure or horse manure, and they used the stuff. So after two days of seeing this, I asked Manuel, who was with me, if he knew where the University of Guadalajara was? And I said, “Take me there.” So we went to the University, found the Chairman of the Agriculture Department. He said his number one PhD in Agave was Dr. Luis Ramirez, and he just happened to be in his office too. So Dr. Ramirez comes over, we sat down and we talked. 15 minutes later, I had him on contract to visit my farm in every six weeks. So I’ve got the…

Mike Morales: Wow.

Bill Foss: The number one PhD in Agave that oversees my farm. And…

Mike Morales: You got the head of the department.

[chuckle]

Bill Foss: And so, when you’re talking about what have I learned, we don’t have enough time today for me to tell you all the things that I’ve learned.

[laughter]

Mike Morales: Well, yeah, but it’s fun for us here at Tequila Aficionado to be able to talk to brand owners, importers, you know, because they all have a certain set of challenges that are particular to themselves in the position that they’re in. And I imagine you do a lot of your own tastings, right? You, yourself are… Have you done any pairing dinners and… I know you have certain ambassadors who take care of that. You have… As a matter of fact, I met your gal from Austin or the Texas area, and she was of course… She was really nice enough to drop these off, but she was in the middle of going between here and Houston. So, have you done tastings yourself? I mean, what do you find that are the common questions that you get about your tequila when you do these?

Bill Foss: Well, if you’re in Denver, I do the tastings, yes, absolutely. And I do it for one basic reason. When the people are done tasting it and they recognize how good it is, and then they find out that they’re not talking to a sales rep but they’re talking to the man that actually makes the tequila, that kinda blows them away, and then I autograph their bottles for them.

Mike Morales: Ah, look at you.

[laughter]

Bill Foss: And that blows it away. Just between us, my record is selling 46 bottles at one tasting here.

Mike Morales: Wow.

Bill Foss: Yeah, nobody’s…

Mike Morales: Wow. You must have had hand cramps, carpal tunnel, right?

[chuckle]

Bill Foss: Pretty close, the store manager was beside himself. He said he had never seen anything like that in his life. But I tell him, when people taste Suavecito, number one, they love it, and the vast majority of them buy it right there anyhow. It just adds a little when they find out who they’re talking to and then I autograph the bottles, it just makes it a little simpler. But I sell a lot.

Mike Morales: Yeah, I mean, it is literally… It’s grassroots campaigning. You’re shaking hands, kissing babies, signing bottles, and that’s what I love about the brand. And so, in all the years that we’ve been communicating off and on, the people around the brand have always been very approachable. And I think that that says a lot, because there are so many startup brands unlike Suavecito, that you can’t get close to the owner. You can’t get close to the maker. We just saw the other day that Dwayne Johnson ‘The Rock’ is gonna be coming out with his own tequila. I guarantee you, you will probably never be able to shake his hand or meet him, and there’s no way he could sign all the bottles and autograph… At least not in public, maybe as they’re coming through the conveyor belt. But it’s not the case with you guys. And the neat part is, soon, as of tomorrow, you guys… Those folks watching us and people listening to us will be able to own a part of this brand, part of the tequila and part of the Suavecito legacy. That says a lot. That doesn’t happen very often. Nope. You know, The Rock’s not gonna ask me for any money to invest in his brand, but Bill Foss is. And this is the cool part, everything you need to know is on this label. You’re available in how many states now?

Bill Foss: We’re in seven states right now. Our goal is to be a National Tequila, which means you need to be in a minimum of 40 states. And our goal is to hit that within five or six years. We wanna pick up five, six states per year for the next five or six years.

Mike Morales: So the other thing that I’m seeing then is that you’re looking to grow… Not grow so… Bigger than your britches. You’re really taking the time to be in one territory and work as one state, one territory, one whatever, and really solidify, really gain a foothold in whatever state that you’re in. You’re not… Some brands, even the well-funded ones, I think, make the mistake of trying to be in too many places at once and not being able to concentrate. Do you say that that’s…

Bill Foss: That’s absolutely the truth. Absolutely. That’s why when I sat down with my staff and some of my investors, we agreed just five or six states a year. We just expanded. We’ve been in Cleveland for quite a while but we just expanded to Columbus and Cincinnati just in January. We’re in Kansas City, doing a great job on both sides of the border.

Mike Morales: Oh, cool.

Bill Foss: But we’re not in the rest of the state of Kansas, so I’ve been on the phone with a new distributor in the Kansas area to pick up the rest of the state of Kansas. And we’ve got a good brand ambassador out there who can work with both distributors that we’ll have. And so, we’re going to be at the nightclub and bar convention at the end of March. I was there our very first year, when we opened up eight years ago, I got a table there. And we had over 300 people who gave me their business cards because they want Suavecito in their bar, restaurant or a store. But we weren’t big enough to be in California, Nevada and Arizona, we weren’t big enough to be in all the states. Well, we are now. And so that’s our goal. We’re going back there again, we’re gonna open up Southern California, Arizona and Nevada in March, April and May, and that’s our five states, that’s for our goal this year.

Mike Morales: Wow, that’s cool, that’s cool. So when you folks are watching this, this could actually be happening simultaneously during the nightclub and bar show. I’ve been there once or twice, and it… Well, you know, the mass of humanity that shows up, you have everything from tequila brands to DJs and fog machines, Coke is there, everybody is there, everybody who’s anybody. And bottle makers and people like that. So if you happen to see… You’ll be there yourself, correct? You’ll…

Bill Foss: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Mike Morales: Stop by and say hi, say that you’ve seen us, you’ve seen Suavecito on Tequila Aficionado Media. Tell… Just to be safe, tell the folks the website address for now, and all the information on how to… How to join the crowdfunding will be on this information and also on Tequila Aficionado Media. What is the website address for now?

Bill Foss: Just go to suavecitotequila.com. It’s that simple.

Mike Morales: Yeah, or if they want to… If they wanna do the search on our website as well, Suavecito will come up on… We’ve done the tasting a while back, but the website hasn’t changed, the address hasn’t changed.

Bill Foss: Right.

Mike Morales: And let’s see, are you… Do you have… You have your own master distiller, correct? Or the flavor profiles. How did that come about? Was that something you did in conjunction with your master distiller or was this your idea? ‘Cause I know you said you had certain ideas that you wanted to infuse into Suavecito.

Bill Foss: Yeah, they were my ideas. And my son and his friends are all tequila drinkers. And so I use them as my guidelines, as I put the different combinations in. And, with those guys, that’s how we ended up with just 2% Agave nectar, instead of any more or any less. Something interesting that your listeners will really like is, back when you tasted my three tequilas, we had a real little distillery because, again, I hadn’t even produced one bottle yet, when… Back eight years ago, nine years ago.

Mike Morales: Wow, okay.

Bill Foss: So we got a little distillery pick this up, and… But he had to do it my way. It had… I didn’t want used whiskey barrels. I wanted California oak barrels that had already been used once for tequila, but not for anything else. So when my competition was using used whiskey barrels, I was using used tequila barrels, okay? And we came up… Yeah, it was great ’cause if you use brand new oak, sometimes the oak is too pungent.

Mike Morales: Yeah.

Bill Foss: So… Yeah. So we used used whiskey barrels and we came up with our formula for the three tequilas. Now, that distillery actually went out of business about a year and a half ago. And I looked around and researched and I found the Orendain Distillery, the oldest, largest distillery in all of Mexico. They tasted my tequila and said, “Oh my God, we would love to make Suavecito.”

[laughter]

Mike Morales: That’s awesome.

Bill Foss: But wait till you hear this one. So I then went down and spent an entire week with their chief engineer, okay, because they had to match my three tequilas that the little story was doing, because we’ve got a… We’ve got a fan base of people that just love Suavecito. Okay, it took… It only took a few hours to match the Blanco, we were okay. Took a day to match the Reposado, because they use different type of… The barrels.

Mike Morales: Right.

Bill Foss: Now, when it comes to the Anejo, we… They couldn’t match my Anejo at all. We spent two days working and working and working. Finally, the owner of the distillery comes in, says, “I hear you guys are having some problems with the Anejo.” And the engineer says, “Yeah, we are Boss.” And he says… And he points up to couple stainless steel tanks, and he says, “Get some of our seven-year-old extra Anejo and start blending it.” Stop. So, today, Suavecito’s Anejo isn’t what you used to have.

Mike Morales: Yeah.

Bill Foss: Our Anejo today is a blend of two-year-old Anejo and seven-year-old extra Anejo.

Mike Morales: Oh, my…

Bill Foss: It’s to die for.

Mike Morales: Oh my God. And it’s still a 35 ABV, it’s still 70 proof. Yeah, I was noticing too.

Bill Foss: Yeah.

Mike Morales: I was noticing too that it’s not uncommon that…

Bill Foss: Look how dark it is.

Mike Morales: Well, yeah.

Bill Foss: [laughter] That’s a seven-year-old in there.

Mike Morales: We… You know, we loved it the first time, and we… I loved that it was so… It was dark and rich, and I did notice that these samples were dropped off to us very, very quickly, but there… This is an older stock, and the way I… The reason I know that it’s ’cause I look at the NOM numbers, this is… The Reposado is older stock, but chances are, all of it… By the time anybody sees this, it’s all gonna be uniform, ’cause right here, it says, “Manufactured and bottled by Tequila Orendain de Jalisco.” Congratulations, that’s NOM 1110, ladies and gentlemen.

Bill Foss: Yes.

Mike Morales: That… That’s amazing. So not only… Not only will folks who are looking for the crowdfunding, not only are you going to be watching this and getting to know Bill Foss, but you’ll also know that your tequila, the one that you’ll own a share of, is coming from a very reputable and legendary…

Bill Foss: Legendary.

Mike Morales: Legendary distillery. This isn’t… This by no means is any fly-by-night. You folks are almost headed to your 10th year or your eight years now in it. Five years is, to me, that threshold… So you’ve got a lot of… A lot of… You had a lot of base hits, man, you got doubles and triples and…

[chuckle]

Mike Morales: I love that. Look at… Look at the bottle, look at the embossing on the bottle too. I… Some of the best tequilas that I have in my stash, up in my kitchen up here, in my top shelf are Orendain tequilas, even from Hojitas to Don Eduardo and some of the other ones, of course, there are several family members, but each of the distilleries has beautiful tequilas that come out of it. They are one of the oldest tequila-making families in history. So I’m jazzed… I… You’re right, I was not… I had heard, probably in the last eight years, we hear so many rumors that the brand had changed distilleries, but, oh my God, sometimes it goes from bad to worse when you change the distillery. You walk away…

Bill Foss: Right.

Mike Morales: From a really great fan base, and a great tequila, and you go someplace else, and then it never tastes the same. You went from a really steady, small distillery to a legendary family name, and it’s like…

Bill Foss: Exactly.

Mike Morales: Wow! That… Holy cow, man. I was not aware of that, and I started reading the labels, ’cause, to be fair, to be honest, I hadn’t… We’ve been so busy here at Tequila Aficionado, I hadn’t had a chance to actually look at the packaging, the label ’cause we get so many of these that… But when I looked at the… While you were talking is that, “Oh, wait a minute, these are different distilleries. And, holy cow, you guys have the best in the business right there. So I love that everything that Suavecito is doing is slow, steady improvement on what you’ve already built. What… What specific challenges do you see, as a brand owner and an Agave grower in the industry right now, what do you see going on? Are you concerned, probably not so much for your brand, but for the industry in general?

Bill Foss: Well, as you mentioned earlier, the price of Agave has gone up. But it’s gone up for my competitors as well as me, so the price of tequila in 2019 is the bottles are just gonna raise a buck or two for the consumer. The consumer is gonna have to pay a little bit more, but the tequila, tequila is the number one growing spirit in the United States, percentage-wise.

Mike Morales: Yeah.

Bill Foss: It just… Year after year, it just goes on like crazy, and the craft tequilas are the biggest grower. And so I’m excited. I’m just excited for what’s ahead for Suavecito.

Mike Morales: That’s really the coolest thing. Again, I was not aware that you had a partner with the Orendain family in order to bring this to market like that. That is… See, that, to me, is a really great point, that you’re really in it for the long haul, you knew that… Here you had retired. You are ready to just relax, and now you find yourself… You find… You find yourself a lot busier than you normally are.

Bill Foss: Way busier.

[laughter]

Bill Foss: Sometimes, it gets crazy, yes.

Mike Morales: So the… You have… You’re going… This crowdfunding effort will have several different tiers. What sort of prices do you have in mind for the tiers? Can you tell us what’s going on with some of those tiers?

Bill Foss: If you invest as little as $250, we’ll send you a couple of… Besides the unit you will have purchased, we’ll also send you a couple Suavecito shot glasses.

Mike Morales: Oh, cool.

Bill Foss: If you invest, I forget what it is, $1200, or something like that, you not only get the same two-shot glasses, but we’ll send you a Suavecito t-shirt. You get up to 3000 or 4000, we’ll give you the shot glasses, a t-shirt, and a polo shirt. Okay, you get a…

Mike Morales: Like the one you’re wearing, that’s got that Suavecito over ’em.

Bill Foss: Yeah, exactly. You get up into the $5000 and $10,000 range and we’ll give you all of those same things plus an all-expense paid trip here to Denver for our first annual investor’s meeting.

Mike Morales: Wow.

Bill Foss: Now, now…

Mike Morales: Wow.

Bill Foss: The highest level, the highest level, if you wanna invest as much as 25,000, you’ll not only get all of those things that I just said, but I’ll also give you an all-expense paid trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, and I’ll personally take you to my farm and the Orendain distillery.

Mike Morales: Wow.

Bill Foss: Yes.

[laughter]

Bill Foss: So we’re trying to offer some really nice perks for the people to feel good about their investing in Suavecito Tequila.

Mike Morales: Well, as far as I’m concerned, like I say, here at Tequila Aficionado, we see a lot of brands, a lot of upcoming brands, and I always… The ones that have gone through what we consider our gauntlet, here at Sipping Off The Cuff, and the Brands of Promise, I like to keep an eye on them to see how accurate we were way back then. And it’s always gratifying for me to be… Have that… Been one of the first ones to have seen brands like Suavecito and say, “There’s something special about this. ‘Cause, up until this point, you and I have really never met or communicated, at least not on the phone. So this is our first e-meeting.

Bill Foss: Correct.

Mike Morales: Although… Although there were other folks involved that had brought Suavecito to us, that I have communicated with in the past. And… I always like to keep an eye on our Brands of Promise to make sure that they continue, that if there’s something that we can do to continue keeping… To keeping the… Getting the word out. So when you talk to… You do your tastings in Denver and you talk to people about your brand, what is it… What’s the one thing that you want them to know about Suavecito? If you could only tell them one thing, what would it be?

Bill Foss: Oh my goodness, only one thing? [chuckle] I guess it’s just that we are the world’s smoothest tequila. We’re a true, true sipping tequila. All three of them are true sipping tequilas, they’re that smooth and that delicious.

Mike Morales: For you oak-heads, I’m telling you, this one here, this is… And when we say smooth too, it’s not like… I wouldn’t call it a dessert tequila. You could serve it with a dessert, but I think that the character… At least as I recall, the character of the Anejo was good enough to pair… If you’re into cigars, or after dinner, or pairing with…

Bill Foss: Oh my God, is it good with a cigar. Oh my God. [laughter]

Mike Morales: Did I say cigar?

Bill Foss: Oh my God, is it good with a cigar.

Mike Morales: What’s your favorite? What’s your favorite with… To pair? Do you pair it with the Repo or with the Anejo?

Bill Foss: Oh, the Anejo. A cigar?

Mike Morales: Yeah.

Bill Foss: Yeah, yeah. What we do… We have a lot of restaurants now that are selling so much Suavecito, that I’ve been asked… I’ve even gone to Cleveland and done a couple of tastings at… Where the restaurant does a Suavecito tequila dinner, okay?

Mike Morales: Okay.

Bill Foss: And they do a beautiful menu, beautiful things. And I get up and I explain to the audience how our Blanco complements the appetizer, how our Reposado complements the main dish, and how our Anejo complements the desert and the wine afterwards. Our tequilas just complement food so well, so they’re… They’re just so good that more and more restaurants… As a matter of fact, in Cleveland, we were the… We did one, and the restaurant owner says, “This is the first time we’ve ever done one of these at a restaurant. It was so damn good. Bill, can you come back again in a month? I’m gonna do another one.”

Mike Morales: Wow.

Bill Foss: And I… Yeah, and I flew there, because it makes a bigger impact when the people know they’re meeting the maker. And the restaurant owners, of course, love the fact that I will take the time and the expense to come there. But that restaurant sells five or six bottles of my tequila a week, so you do that and I’ll come to your restaurant, we’ll do a special Suavecito Tequila dinner.

Mike Morales: Have you had a chance to do any here in Texas yet?

Bill Foss: No dinners yet. No, not yet.

Mike Morales: Okay. Well, if you’re watching this here in Texas, ladies and gentlemen…

[laughter]

Mike Morales: Bill would like to do a dinner with you guys. That is so cool, this is… I’m so glad to see that the brand not only has survived, but it’s thrived, especially with the way things are going, like I say, with so many flooding the markets. What are the price points now with… You’re right in there with the premium tequilas, I would say, right?

Bill Foss: I work… We work hard. I don’t make quite as much profit as those premium tequilas because I felt it was important for us to be four or five dollars a bottle below the premium top-selling tequilas. We taste better, then once people taste it, tequila at $4 or $5 a bottle cheaper? It’s a no-brainer then, what to buy.

Mike Morales: Wow. Suavecitotequila.com, that’s the website, right? That’s correct?

Bill Foss: Correct.

Mike Morales: And, again, this will be a… It’s a rarity in this business to be able to own a portion of not only what, in a couple of years, would be a legacy brand, but something produced at a legendary distillery. This is exciting. This is exciting news. I’m glad that you let us be a part of it, that we get to let folks know that there is a possibility you can very easily be a part of what looks to be a thriving brand that’s just gonna continue going and going and going. It’s like the Energizer Bunny.

Bill Foss: Exactly.

Mike Morales: You’re just gonna keep moving and going, and if you happen to see Bill in Las Vegas, at the Las Vegas Nightclub & Bar Show, that’ll be happening in March, go up, say hi, find out if there are any shares left at that point, [laughter] ’cause… Now, your campaign goes for how long? The crowdfunding goes for how long?

Bill Foss: Three months, but as you kind of said, and I’ve had a few other people say the same thing to me, “Bill, you’re already in seven states. There’s enough people that already love Suavecito, if they find out that they can purchase shares, it might not last that long, Bill, you might sell off pretty quick.”

Mike Morales: Well, that’s just it, there’s a danger. We’re letting you folks know ahead of time, this’ll… You’ll… People who will be watching this will be one of the first ones to know this, other than traditional media… ‘Cause I’m sure you’ll be getting the word out, but as far as meeting you and talking about the brand and all that, this will be your… You’re probably watching… One of the first ones to watch this, and appreciate the fact that you wanna get on this bandwagon really quickly because a successful one, successful crowdfunding for tequila… And, lately, have been fast and furious, and then, like you said, you sell out, so you don’t wanna be caught short. You definitely wanna be a part of this if you’re looking to be… To own something, to be a part of something bigger, this is certainly… Do the job. And then the perks are amazing, so that’s certainly… Be something to watch out for.

Mike Morales: Suavecito.com. Take a look, if nothing else. And even if it’s not something that you’re looking for, but you know somebody who is, share the website. Share the crowdfunding information as well, because maybe you know somebody or we know someone who is a real big fan of the tequila and maybe didn’t know about it, didn’t hear about the crowdfunding, that it could be something that you’ve been looking at, because there’s… However anyone can get the word out, that’s certainly the thing that you wanna do. Again, it’s Suavecito Tequila. I know that you hear a lot of this, the world’s smoothest tequila, but they can actually… You guys can actually prove it. I mean, it’s right there in the bottle, it’s right there in the back too. That’s fairly new too, isn’t it? That… I don’t recall that being on the bottle.

Bill Foss: Yeah, that’s original. It’s always been there. Yeah.

Mike Morales: Okay. I really need to go and revisit these again. I hesitate to do that because these are my only bottles right now. I do have the original ones, the empty ones are in my garage. [laughter] I tell people I have probably the largest collection of empties in the business, and yours was one of them. The funny thing is that these will probably go up on my shelf because now I have so many, I can’t finish them all. So, anyway, you have been watching a special edition of Open Bar with Bill Foss, who is the founder and owner of Blue Agave Spirits and also the owner of Suavecito Tequila. They are starting a crowdfund campaign that will be available for 90 days, but I don’t see it lasting more than maybe 30. [chuckle] Find out on the website, Suavecito.com, you can also find out more information on this, on Tequila Aficionado Media as well. So all that information will be available to you so that you can take your piece of the action and be a part of something really… Not just legacy but legendary as well. So thank you, Bill, for taking the time out. I know you’re busy. I know you’re probably getting a lot of crazy weather in Denver. We’re in San Antonio, it’s cold one day and humid the next, so it’s never consistent. I don’t know, you guys have gotten snowed on a lot, haven’t you?

Bill Foss: Denver, hasn’t had that much snow. Obviously, the mountains get a tremendous amount. But when it snows here in Denver, two days later, it’s 46 degrees, blue skies, and the snow is all gone.

Mike Morales: I used to live in New Mexico, same thing. I did that for 13 years. In fact, actually, when I first had Suavecito, I was not in New Mexico, I was actually in Southern California. Congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished with Suavecito. Available at Twin Liquors, here in Texas, in San Antonio.

Bill Foss: Yeah.

Mike Morales: So if you’re looking at us here in Texas, and you’re wanting to see what all the buzz is about, it’s Suavecito Tequila. You can find it at Twin Liquors. Bill, thank you again for your time and for talking with us, and anything else you’d like to cover before I let you go? I know you got things to do, but… The crowdfunding, take a look, okay? Please. And tell your friends.

Bill Foss: That’s it, Mike. It’s been really my pleasure talking with you too today.

Mike Morales: Thanks.

Bill Foss: You know, five years ago, when you and your partner did Suavecito, you came out and did a little video. You held my Anejo bottle out and said, “This is the best up and coming tequila we have ever tasted.” That week, my sales doubled in the cities that I was in, just because of you.

[laughter]

Mike Morales: Really?

Bill Foss: Thank you.

Mike Morales: Wow. Okay, well, I’m glad to see that people are paying attention, and that we were right. We were right back then and… You can’t go… You really can’t go wrong. And right now is probably a time to jump in if you’re looking to, again, be a part of something very, very special. I think Suavecito’s got that special edge, that je ne sais quoi that helps brands. And, as you can tell, it’s not a soulless brand. It’s not just a name and a label. There’s a guy behind it, who stands behind it, and in front of it, and can port for you. And now he’s offering you a piece of the action. So, ladies and gentleman, I would take him up on it before he pulls that away from you. But you’ve been watching Open Bar on Tequila Aficionado Media. All of our platforms. If you’re watching us on YouTube, please subscribe down below, hit that red button. And for more information on the crowdfunding for Suavecito Tequila, keep it here on Tequila Aficionado Media, or go to Suavecito Tequila… Is it suavecito.com or Suavecito Tequila?

Bill Foss: Tequila.com.

Mike Morales: Suavecito Tequila… Tequila.com. All that information is on there. Bill, thank you so much.

Bill Foss: Thank you.

Mike Morales: Thanks again for being here and for taking the time. I’m Mike Morales for Open Bar. Keep it here. We’ve got a lot more stuff coming for you. Thanks again.

 

 

For information on the Suavecito Tequila crowdfunding campaign, please visit https://www.startengine.com/suavecito.

Find Suavecito Tequila online:

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

This interview was sponsored and made possible by Suavecito Tequila.

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Open Bar with Alan Camarena of G4 Tequila

Open Bar with Alan Camarena of G4 Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5OD Mike Morales interviews Alan Camarena, son of Felipe Camarena, nephew of Carlos Camarena and representative of the 4th generation (G4) of tequila makers at El Pandillo distillery.Mike: Hi, you’re watching Open Bar, on Tequila Aficionado Media. I am Mike Morales. This is a special edition of Open Bar, because that young man there is Alan Camarena. Now, if that name sounds familiar to you, we’ve all heard from his father, Felipe Camarena, Ingeniero Felipe Camarena, and his uncle, Carlos. Well, the reason I wanted to talk to you Alan, is because we have heard such great, wonderful things about G4.

Alan: That’s great.

[chuckle]

Mike: And, it is on fire throughout the United States. The guys who are importing this into the US, Shawn and Jeff, those guys have been working their butts off.

Alan: Oh, I know yeah, yeah. They’ve been doing a great job. We’re really proud with our distributors, nobody that we’ve ever dealt with before has actually had such detailed attention with the customers. So, they really have their eyes on what the consumer is craving for, and they’re actually letting us know, so that we have time to prepare for those steps. They’ve been very attentive at actually getting in person to the bars that actually are doing great with our product, and we have been going there, just to talk about what we do and why we pursue it the way that we do it. So yeah, I would extend a thank you to all of the distributors and their team.

[chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, these guys, PRP Enterprises is the importer, the official importer of G4. Now, what’s interesting to me, Alan, is that you have, in our Sipping Off The Cuff last year, Felipe, Ingeniero Felipe, your father, took what we considered, Best In Show, because it is a rare thing to have three distinct brands coming out of the same distillery, with three distinct flavor profiles. And to do as well equally across the board, on the market and… Explain to me a little bit about how you got involved… ‘Cause, you’re also a DJ, right? You do…

Alan: Yeah, yeah, I produce a lot of music, I record, well, I make a lot of beats. But, going back to the tequila though, I’ve been with my father ever since he started building the distillery. So yeah, I’ve had my time to get bored over there and actually analyze everything in-depth. So, we handle a few different brands, although, all of them share the same quality, most of what has come in to play to make them different, that was like more of a necessary difference, or rather, more of a necessary name change for the difference that it made had to do with the water, because it did change the flavor so dramatically when we went from having a really… Well, I would say… It’s hard to say. It’s unfavorable, rainy season, we ran out of rain water and spring water, so we ended up producing our first batch with deep well water that is being pumped from 150 meters underground. So, when that happened is that well, we of course expected some profile change.

Mike: Right, right.

Alan: Because, of the water source. But, we didn’t expect it to be so dramatic. So, when we got to that point, the first thing that I said to my dad was, “Well, we need to change the name of this product.” “Why?” Because we don’t want people to say, “Hey this is not G4 anymore”, like, “What’s going on in there?” And…

Mike: Right. Yeah, because you know how the public is, they like their consistency especially.

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: Especially in the US. You can go to McDonald’s anywhere in the world, and you know what to expect.

Alan: It’s that for me, I accepted that it might feel shady when something like that happens, when you have a profile and you’re used to a profile, and then something else comes up, you can always think the worst.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah, and sadly, that’s the way the public is. There have been other brands who have rested their tequila, not as long, and then because they’re such small batch, that there’s a difference from batch to batch, and so…

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: You know, the Reposado doesn’t taste as good as the last batches, and people kinda, you know. You’ll get differing opinions on every batch.

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: And so, you guys did the right thing. Explain to people about the rain water; you use a combination of rainwater and well water, is that correct?

Alan: Spring water.

Mike: Spring water.

Alan: Yeah. There’s three water sources, one of them is rain, the other one is spring water, and the other one is the deep well. Although, in the G4 profile, we only stuck to… Well, just centering ourselves to the balance between rain water and spring water.

Mike: So, it’s a 50-50, right?

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: For economic reasons, ’cause if you run out of the rain water, just doing like 100% rainwater, then how are you gonna make more G4, if you don’t have any more water to balance it out, right?

Mike: Right. Right.

Alan: While there is some space to play with it creatively, to eventually make like a 100% rainwater profile, we also acknowledge that as being more expensive because we cannot speculate with the rain. You know?

Mike: Yeah.

Alan: It’s always random.

Mike: It’s like trying to figure out the agave pricing. [laughter]

Alan: Yeah, it’s true. It’s true. It’s somehow chaotic, we do not know when people are gonna start offering their agave more cheaper, and… So, we always gotta hold ourselves to what we have immediately. And, try to keep it safe, instead of just sacrificing and try to play for the risks. ‘Cause otherwise, we’re gonna end up with half a batch of what we could have done.

Mike: And, that’s the beauty of what you’re doing, especially with the natural elements involved, the rain water. ‘Cause, having had all three of the profiles that currently that are coming out of El Pandillo, there is a very distinct difference in the flavor profiles. Some people call it a funkiness, with one brand, as opposed to another. First of all, explain to me, how do you feel being the fourth generation? La cuarta generacion, how did that come about? I’m sure you threw around a whole lot of names. So, how did you get your generation on this, and how does that make you feel?

Alan: Well, it makes me feel fine. It makes me feel great. ‘Cause, right now I’m getting a title that, I feel like, a lot of people, even though they deserve, they don’t really get until later on in their life. Right now, we’re getting introduced into it, we’re sliding into it. Although, my dad’s still in charge of most of the decision making in the distillery, we need to respect that, we are advancing ourselves in the ways that we believe, me and my brother, can make the product better.

Mike: Your brother Luiz, right?

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: Okay. So, are you two… You’re not twins, are you?

Alan: No, we’re not twins, he’s five years older than me.

Mike: Okay, so he would, technically… Is G4 for the both of you or for you?

Alan: Yeah. No, it’s both of us.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: Yeah, we are both the fourth generation of distillers in the family.

Mike: Okay. Here’s an interesting question. I know a family of sotoleros. And, of course, it’s a whole different beverage, but they’re a fifth generation, as well. Their a fourth and fifth. And, what they’ve told me is, when the fourth generation distills a batch, and then the fifth generation distills a batch, they say that they can tell the difference between one hand of the maker, and the other. Even though the recipe is the same. Are you involved in the distillation? Do you supervise that, have you done that on your own yourself?

Alan: Yeah, yeah. I’ve been in every step. Although, currently I’m not really involved. I do not get my hands on on the process, but I supervise it.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: So, yeah. Even at very technical details, me and my dad may differ, and we may actually argue about it. It may actually get pretty bad, ’cause you know how generations are, I think my stuff, he thinks his stuff.

Mike: Sure. [chuckle]

Alan: We still manage to get it all packaged. We try to get an element of every part of the discussion, and try to get the best out of each of the sides that we’d debate about. So, I can totally agree how that can happen. A fifth generation noticing that, even at the distillation process only, there can be a different from the fifth to the fourth.

Mike: Yeah.

Alan: Even despite the agave changes, ’cause it always fluctuates. It always tasted a little different, like every plant is still a different person.

Mike: Right. So, it is kind of interesting that you can actually taste the nuances, the differences between a batch that you supervise versus one that Felipe produces. Now, you’re a very young generation, and because you’re a DJ, you’re out in the public a lot, you’re a producer, you do a lot of that stuff, where do you see your generation headed for, when it comes to handcrafted tequila? Tequila quality, like G4, what are your observations in your generation, in your market, your generation your segment?

Alan: My observations, well, they may be a little crude, ’cause well, I see that first hand, but I…

Mike: Hey, yeah, yeah. Well, you’re in the trenches, you’re right there.

Alan: Yeah. The thing is, I don’t really see much of the interest in my generation like regarding tequila, even around the States. There’s so few of us that actually get our hands on it, or even talk about it, like discuss what tequila is about, around my circles and like the people that I know that produce tequila even though I don’t really talk with them that often…

Mike: Right.

Alan: Is that we are very deep in the cave, there is no spotlight down in the cave, it’s just like a endless debate about what’s going on. But, there really is not much of the public interest from Jalisco, regarding what is good about the tequila. There is more of an interest from people that can relate at a spirits level, you know, other people that also make their own distillates, there’s a lot more discussion that is, I would say, wholesome, from that aspect, people from all around the world that they make their own spirit, we can actually get it more in-depth and talk about stuff that we think we feel is much more important. ‘Cause, at a consumer level, a lot of it gets involved like in the marketing, you know?

Mike: Right.

Alan: How many flowers they put in the image of it.

Mike: Right.

Alan: And, all that kind of stuff. When you talk about like the technicals, you can actually get people bored about it, ’cause you’re talking about it in a different language, you know?

[chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, it is, and I can honestly tell you I’m one of those people, whereas, there are people in our circle, like for instance, one of our tasters, Rick Levy, is so into the science and the distillation and the degrees, and to me, ’cause I never took chemistry in high school, it wasn’t a requirement for the high school I was in. So, the chemistry part of it, loses me. For me there’s… And I guess, this is probably the way it is with most people, there are certain aspects of the process that are more interesting to me. For instance, for me, it’s fermentation. I love talking about the fermentation and listening to other people talk about fermentation because to me, that’s where the magic happens.

Alan: Yeah, yeah, I agree, I agree.

Mike: You know…

Alan: I agree, specifically, because we do, we take a long race when it comes to fermentation. We don’t like rushing things up, we don’t want it like as fast as 24-hour fermentation; we would rather wait like five days, and we still use the same strain that my grandfather used to use. So, we do date back to those things, but we also appreciate that there is some subjective value in that. A lot of people, they may not be so much about sustainability; however, there is still a lot of passioning to the crafting of it.

Mike: Right.

Alan: Like, the entire process, even though it may be super rudimentary, sometimes that is what you want, you know? Somebody is willing to pay top buck for something that is like handcrafted at a very difficult level, despite all the challenges that it involved. So, it can be perceived as something entirely different. You’re not just talking about the quality of a product you’re talking about more qualities that we’re involved in making that product that more than just the juice at the end.

Mike: Right. You know there’s lots of aspects that go into a recipe. It really literally is like cooking a souffle, if you mess it up, it’s gonna fall, so you don’t want it… And, in the case of tequila and distillates in general, you mess it up and it’s gonna cost you an arm and a leg.

Alan: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. It will. I mean, there’s always a little bit of a gamble, I mean. [chuckle] I’m sorry, I was thinking about quoting someone, but I don’t think it’s appropriate. Let’s just let it slide.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: There’s a lot of risk when you’re putting articular in a barrel for instance.

Mike: Yes.

Alan: ‘Cause you don’t know where the barrel’s been and you don’t know what kind of life the tree had and how rich it can be in its aromas, and what property you actually asked to the product that you want. So I feel like the consumer and the producer are both in the same race towards finding something that is very special ’cause the consumer may actually acknowledge that one of the products is special before we actually do it, ’cause we’re just making it. By the time it gets out there, we’ll… Sometimes you don’t get to pick, you know, the barrel was always there, you’re not gonna throw that away.

Mike: Right.

Alan: So I feel like when the producer finds out that is special, that they will definitely be like, “Yeah, I’m gonna hold this for myself.” They don’t really wanna give it away that easily, and I feel like it’s the same for the consumer. Sometimes they find something and it’s so bad, they just wanna burn it down.

Mike: Yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s no saving, there’s no saving it not even in a margarita or in a mix. They just… You wanna just dump it. So when getting back to your generational thing, for me, it’s interesting to me, because marketers… I see things from two different aspects, and I always have. One is from the consumer point of view, the average guy that goes to the liquor store. And then from the marketing aspect of it where the spin happens, and I’ve always felt that our job was to help our followers, our consumers, our readers to see beyond the marketing so that they don’t take that as gospel.

Alan: No, and I agree, I agree that we should find a way to make people appreciate things that are transparent.

Mike: Yeah.

Alan: Instead of having them pay for something that is so flashy and so easy to sell because of a back story that is entirely made up.

Mike: Oh, yeah.

Alan: But it can happen. I mean…

Mike: It’s happened lots of times throughout history.

Alan: I feel like it can be… I’m not trying to say that it’s acceptable, but it can be acceptable if you’re looking at it from a totally different angle. Maybe it’s a designer thing. Maybe the one responsible for putting the money and putting the product out there was thinking… Had a completely different vision that it wasn’t really that important for it to have that thing inside. It was more about everything that surrounded it like when they try to sell you the lifestyle which might be something that people would want like, “Ey, this thing is growing to something bigger, it’s starting to grow into festivals,” and this and that. That can actually happen, and I’m not really against that, but I try to sell my product as transparent as possible, not try to put all the covers in that, trying to sell what’s inside. So that’s what I sell, but all other people can sell other things.

Mike: Well, I love that this has the back story is you guys, you and your brother. For anybody who was with us last year, your… Felipe, your father, was with us at El Cholo in Pasadena, and I gotta tell you, he was a big hit, everybody wanted to spend time with him and have him sign their bottles and he’s a rock star.

Alan: Yeah, he tends to have that effect on people. [chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, yeah, he’s… And it was really wonderful because I had a chance to speak to him while we were setting up, and I didn’t even have a shirt on, because it was one of the warm days, it wasn’t… Not like this past year, but the year before was very warm. It was… The Dodgers were in the World Series. It was a big deal. And I’m standing there, helping set up, and I didn’t have my regular shirt on. So when he showed up, he showed up early and we started talking and the next thing I know there were people being let in, you know, we had spent like 40 minutes talking to each other. And it was just, to me, fascinating because I’d met Carlos before and I’d known Carlos for a while, but Felipe was kind of an enigma to me anyway. I know a lot of folks, a lot of the tequila circles that tend to gravitate toward these rock stars had already met him, but I’d never. And some of them have met you, and this is our first time speaking with each other. So, to me, it’s fascinating because you’re, like it or not, you’re the next generation of tequila.

Mike: What I wanted to find out was, you say that your generation, right now as where you’re standing, isn’t as enamored with what’s inside the bottle, so much as maybe an older generations, is that right? Am I reading this correctly?

Alan: Yes and… Well, I feel like it’s become a little difficult to even pursue as… Like, from an advertiser point of view, to try to sell them stuff, because people are very cynical nowadays. They are always thinking you are trying to sell them something before they actually hear the back end of it. But, at the same time, they’re always vulnerable to being bombarded with countless ads.

Mike: Yes. Yes, well there are some tequila producers out there, the big names, they spend more money on measured media, on measured advertising, than they do making their juice.

Alan: Yeah, and it happens. [laughter]

Mike: Yeah. And, it’s amazing to me. If you would take part of that marketing budget and maybe reinvest it in the community, or do something… Now, the reason I keep harping about your generation, is because of the millennial generation, every marketer in the world wants to market to millennials and the generation that is coming in after them. So, I just wanted to see what your point of view was, because everybody is trying to figure out that millennial marketing keys.

Alan: Like, how to sell it to a millennial? [laughter]

Mike: Yeah, exactly. Because, what’s important to me, and of course everybody’s different, what’s important to me was the handcrafting, and of course, the sustainability. And I am not talking about over-producing, ’cause I know you are all agave growers, as well.

Alan: Yeah. Over-processing, mostly.

Mike: Over-processing. Having to buy now, a mess, but also not over-producing and trying to… Some of the key points of millennials, is that they are more important in a story, they are interested in a story, they were interested in sustainability, and what you do for the environment. They wanna know that what they’re supporting is not only good for them and good to share with friends, but also that they’re not hurting anybody.

Alan: Yeah, well in that sense… I’d also like to clarify, I feel like the American market, and the Mexican market, can have very, very distinct points of view, when it comes down to it. When it boils down to what really matters to them. I feel like both Americans and Mexicans like to feel themselves involved in the story. They wanna be part of the story, and that’s what really can sell it to somebody else like, “Okay tell them, okay, you matter.” “Why?” “Because, you’re here, because this is the proof that you are here with us, that you are making this grow, and if it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here.” That’s some of the stuff that we take very seriously. We try to make it as organic as possible, in the sense that, we’d rather have 10 loyal followers, than having 10 million followers that we can not even like reply to, who don’t know what they’re a fan of, and they don’t take the time to respond. And…

[overlapping conversation]

Mike: So, do you get a lot of fan mail?

Alan: Well, mostly work-related, regarding orders, and all that kind of stuff. And actually getting messages across to my father, ’cause sometimes… My Dad gets really, really deep into the fog of working and keeping his hands busy. So, if he’s not super busy, he’s actually trying to get away from the noise, ’cause he is always getting those messages. And sometimes it’s hard for us even to get them across to him, so that he can make a decision when it comes down to something that only he can decide.

Mike: Wow. Having met him, and like I say, it was only a brief moment and of most of the evening, although it was monopolized by a lot of the guests who had come in to meet him. He seems to be a very… His mind is always cranking, you know what I mean? It’s like he’s always thinking, and he can’t sit still. Is that the way he is?

Alan: Yeah, he is a running engine, and he doesn’t have many gears. He just goes, and that’s it.

[laughter]

Mike: Oh my gosh.

Alan: I’m sorry, Dad, if this offends you, but it’s true.

Mike: No, no. That’s really… I think it’s a great analogy, that he’s so focused, that he just wants to go forward. Tell me some of the challenges that, since you’ve been involved in the family business, that you have come up against and overcome. Are there challenges unique to you and your brother, that you guys had anticipate? Or, is this all pretty much everybody is in the same boat?

Alan: I’d like to say that everybody, including everyone in my generation, is involved in the same boat. The media doesn’t work the same way it worked 10 years ago. So right now, we’ve been, me living in a small town, where there’s not that quality internet that can be available in, I don’t know, Guadalajara, for instance.

Mike: Right.

Alan: You do learn to live with some type of austerity, which is media austerity. You don’t get bombarded by all that media, because you’re not even the target. So, when it comes to that, you also learn that you need to keep your relationships more personal, more like face-to-face, because over the net, nobody feels that they’re involved in anything. Just by posting things on Facebook, nobody actually feels like they relate to you, in any sense. So, it has had to do with, well, making our own trials, and finding our own errors. Like, try not to make the same mistakes again, in terms of how we get out there, and play it safe, in a way. Because, we’re not really gambling on a large budget, regarding the advertising. Our budget, we actually spend on the product. Everything that we do is, we try to make more of the same product, try to make it equal or better quality. Nothing less. My dad has always had that philosophy where, if you need to sacrifice the quality just to make more liters, then that’s a dead zone. You don’t go in there. And we, me and my brother, we both believe in that.

Mike: Excellent, excellent. So, that’s good. Are you guys ready to take over one day?

[chuckle]

Alan: Well, I don’t feel like I’m ready, because I’ve… Well, you know, it’s family struggles, you know? But I guess, when it comes, I’ll just know what to do, except you can never expect it, you don’t feel like it’s gonna happen next week. If I knew that it was gonna happen at some point, then I would look forward to it and I would start building up to that point, but since I really don’t well, I’ll just live day by day.

[chuckle]

Mike: So when… I know that Shawn and Jeff who are the importers of G4, they’ve had you out to do tastings, is that correct? Have you done a couple?

Alan: Yeah. Yeah, tastings, and to talk about the process. We are usually very forward when it comes to what we’re selling, to talk about the process, or how we do it.

Mike: So, what do you find is the common question from the American public, when you do these appearances?

Alan: Well, I don’t know, I tend to just take over the mic, because a lot of people don’t really know what to ask. And, I’ve seen a lot of people presenting, and they never have the angle that we have, and we are pretty straightforward. We’re not very… We’re not political, we don’t go around the bush. We’d rather say it like, “Cut the crap and let’s talk about the real thing.” And, overall, I feel like it’s been evolving with me, as I’ve been growing with the process. It’s like, at first, the first thing that I acknowledge is that we are doing things the way that they should be done, nothing special. It is the way that has existed since my grandfather, since my great-grandfather, and since even before probably. The only difference that we see from our brand, and a lot of other different brands, is that we are just trying to sell you that. We are not making a super fancy bottle, we are not expending ourselves in a super difficult cork that… We do try to go around those challenges, because we find no passion in having a nice cork.

Mike: Yeah, no, I agree with you. I think, it’s interesting to see the change in the logo and the look of each of the three brands that are coming, and you’re gonna have another brand coming out of El Pandillo, shortly.

Alan: Yeah, yeah, that is right.

Mike: What’s that process like? Because, I’m sure that you guys vet… First of all, I’m sure you guys get pounded by people that want you to make their tequila, right?

[chuckle]

Alan: Yeah, right, it happens so often.

Mike: It happens. So, it must take you a lot for you to say, “You know what, I agree with you. Yeah, we’ll work with you.” What is that process like? Because you must say no more often than yes.

Alan: Well, it does take time. It is a little time-consuming, because well, first off, you don’t wanna offend anyone that tries to work with you, that’s for starters. And second is, a lot of people don’t really have a notion of how much money it takes to make a brand, and also, how much we would be giving away by putting our liters in somebody else’s bottle.

Mike: Oh yeah, yeah.

Alan: So, for the long term, we are business people. If we can both come to an agreement where we both, where we both find the benefit, and I mean true benefit, not just numbers. Because when you talk about the numbers, it’s really easy to just focus on what makes you a profit, and you overlook the fact that… Well, here in Mexico, working with a brand, and actually it involves a lot of coming and going, and seeing a lot of legal fees, and discussing issues that, usually people that want us to make their brand, they’re not really willing to make that process themselves. They want us to do their, like their homework. So, it involves costs that are non-monetary, it’s more about the willingness of us to actually pursue that for them, and there can be a lot of misunderstandings. So, I believe that we are open people to negotiating, but it has to be both ends. And, I feel like it is the same for everybody. As long as they can find a win-win situation, they wouldn’t say no.

Mike: Well, there’s a lot to be said about maquiladoras, that have many successful brands that come out of there. But, El Pandillo is very… And, the Camarena name, has a cache that’s different, and so, it’s attractive, I’m sure. But, as I said, you guys probably wind up saying no to a lot more people, than you actually say yes to. So, what I find fascinating, is the fact that each of the three brands are being imported by three different companies. Who decides what one bottle will look like versus the other? Because the Terralta bottle, of course, is just the reverse of this one. With, of course, a different look and different graphics. And then, Pasote is completely out of left field.

Alan: Well, for Pasote, we’re not involved in design, which I love, I really love the design that they came up with for Pasote. Well, the G4 has its own story; we had been working with designers for a while, but at some point it became a little troublesome, because we weren’t landing any of the ideas. We were just like drawing with a lot of concepts, and we wanted to make a label that was elegant, not necessarily expensive, just elegant. Like, just classy, keep it classy, keep simple, not too expensive, and there you go. That’s what we came up with. But, we actually ended up we actually ended up outsourcing to more designers in order to get that done, from the pieces that the previous designer gave us, and he never actually gave us the full label. So, that that was our labor to just finish it up, in a way.

Mike: Wow.

Alan: Well, for Terralta, we worked with a different designer, and while we took some of the options, in a sense, the Terralta is a lot more minimalistic. It is stripped down from more of the flashy elements, and it just comes down to the clarity of the bottle. Since we already had our own bottle, which involves having a very large lot of bottles made, for it to be cost effective, it already saved us a step. So, we only played with the bottle, and we flipped it around, we added that label, and that’s how you get the Terralta.

Mike: Yeah. It’s the coolest thing. Now, what, who… Terralta that has six different expressions.

Alan: Yes, that’s right.

Mike: Do you see adding maybe two more expressions into G4?

Alan: I feel like it is being demanded, and I don’t even know why we haven’t done it before. But, that is definitely upcoming.

Mike: Here’s my question, is it gonna taste similar to Terralta?

Alan: No, no. Like…

Mike: Okay. So, in other words, your barrel strength in your 110 of G4, there are samples of those somewhere in your home in your lab, and you already have those and you know that they already tasted different, they taste more in line with the G4.

Alan: Yeah. Yeah, they don’t taste like Terralta.

Mike: Really, okay.

Alan: There’s a few steps that affect the taste. A lot of people may differ on which one is better, whether it’s the Terralta or the G4. I personally love the Terralta, because I’m a punk head, you know?

Mike: Yeah, I know.

Mike: I think we’re back, man. There we go.

Alan: Yeah, I had some problems, my phone ran out of battery in the middle of the conversation.

Mike: I know. So, you were saying you’re a punk, so you like the Terralta.

Alan: I like the Terralta…

Mike: Is that because it’s at a higher ABV, or what?

Alan: No, not related with the higher ABV. I actually like the lower proof because you get more of a water character in there.

Mike: Oh, no kidding? Okay.

Alan: Well, people that have tried tequila for a long time, well, they’re used to having some sort of flavor profile that they’re looking for, right? So, when it comes to Terralta, you get to notice that there is another note that just gets in there, that adds this noise, this dirty noise, it is like having a good tasting stone, like…

Mike: Yes. Yeah.

[overlapping conversation]

Alan: Terralta falls in there.

Mike: It’s the minerality, right? That you…

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: See, I enjoy that. I personally like that a lot. And, I guess you run across a lot of people who have different preferences with all three of the brands.

Alan: Yeah, as for the purists, you cannot really tell them that which one’s better than which one.

Mike: No.

Alan: It really has to do with what you’re looking for, what you’re expecting. And, in that sense, it’s like, I would be wrong to say, “Well, no. Terralta is better. I just like it better”. I don’t know, I’m young and as I said, I’m more of a punk.

[laughter]

Alan: I don’t like stuff that’s just cookie cutter formulas.

Mike: Right. Yeah. You like you your tequilas to have character.

Alan: Yeah, exactly.

Mike: So, you prefer tequilas at a lower ABV, you don’t enjoy the higher proof ones, or?

Alan: This would only be in the case of the Terralta. Of course, I prefer the higher proof G4. Because, well, you get that character, that’s emphasized, it becomes so much stronger. Whereas, in the Terralta, when you don’t water it down as much, you don’t get that much from the water. So since that is the character Terralta, I prefer the 40, although, I can obviously drink the higher proof, although I feel like it sits somewhere in between, ’cause now there is more of the G4 character in there.

Mike: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, is it true that Felipe, and maybe yourself involved, that when you seek barrels for aging, you’re looking for the oldest barrels around, is that correct? That’s the story we’ve been fed.

Alan: Yeah. It feels a little overly stated, but it is true. We don’t like the barrels that are young. Well, that have only been used maybe, once or twice.

Mike: Mm-hmm.

Alan: We like the barrels a bit aged, a bit seasoned, because then you can actually appreciate more of the agave character in a tequila once it ages. Because my father doesn’t like the profile of it being too similar to a whiskey. He doesn’t want it to feel that aged, so he just lets the tequila in the barrel, and as long as it remains in the barrel, that’s what we put on the label. Is it ripe or old? And then we don’t really specify in the label, how many months it’s been aged.

Mike: Right, right.

Alan: But yeah, it can also vary, ’cause we also do the tasting and the profiling, because in the end, you end up blending a bunch of barrels together, just get one consistent lot. Otherwise, it is more expensive to have a single barrel, because you need to certify each barrel, you need to get it approved, and once it gets approved, you need to pass it through the solid removing filters. Well, there’s some of that tequila that’s gonna get stuck in that filter, so you lose at least two, three liters per batch.

Mike: Oh, wow.

Alan: So, everytime you do a batch and you try to do it with a single barrel, there’s gonna be that added cost. It’s not too much, but the more dramatic cost that is being added for the certification, because each barrel that you try to release a single barrel you pay a flat fee for it to get approved.

Mike: Right, wow. So, yeah. This is all… It really is all about, not so much cutting corners, but making it cost effective for you, and of course, down the road the consumer, as well.

Alan: Yeah, of course. Because, the consumer really doesn’t want the prices to be out of hand. They want to be able to afford it. So, they will always ask, “Why is this more expensive than that?” There’s that reason, and also, the reason might be the scarcity. Because it’s not the same to blend a barrel with another barrel and expect to make it somehow sit in the average of both. Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Sometimes it’s more like a dysfunctional family, everyone’s yelling. [laughter] It happens like that. It is also a gamble, which barrels you wanna blend with which. ‘Cause it’s not that intuitive. At first, I thought it would be like that, but then I came to, what I would say, a strange idea, of trying to blend an extra Anejo with a Blanco. I tasted both separately, and then I tasted the mixture of both together, and it literally blew my mind. Because it accentuated some of the character in the extra, and also some of the character in the Blanco. So, it wasn’t like an average of what it was, it’s not like a de-aged tequila; it’s more of a mixture of two different things. So, when you blend them, you have to experiment with it. It’s very empirical, it’s nothing that you have theory.

Mike: Would you consider that then a G4 Joven?

Alan: Yeah, that would be a Joven.

Mike: Are we gonna see a G4 Joven one day, maybe?

Alan: I don’t think so. I think we’re gonna see the Blanco, and we’re gonna see the extra, and people may start to try that out. But, for us to want to make a Joven, it becomes like a… I don’t know.

Mike: Is it too gimmicky?

Alan: Gimmicky, and it also seems like a strange idea to want to blend two things that are perfectly fine. ‘Cause then, how would you price it? It would be crazy. You would also have to average out the price point of that thing. I think it’s possible, maybe it can be a thing. But, I would also like, for the short term, would have to discuss this with my father.

Mike: Of course. Of course.

Alan: When I get my hands on the decision, then I will have to check my bank account, and see how I’m doing.

[laughter]

Mike: Oh my gosh. So, here’s another question and another example, what do you think of the new Cristalino Anejos?

Alan: I think we’ve had the discussion over and over.

[laughter]

Mike: Because… The reason I ask of course, it’s becoming a thing. It’s a category, whether we like it or not. And because you age you’re tequilas in some of the older barrels, what would… I asked this of another master distiller that we interviewed not too long ago, I said, “Why? You’ve taken all this labor to age something beautifully, and then you’re gonna take it and strip it.” But, what he told me was, “Ultimately you are working for a customer, and if this is what the customer wants, then we’re going to try to perfect a version that would be favorable.”

Alan: It’s a fair product, however, it is not what… We’ve been going around it in the forums, and almost consensually it is not a product for somebody who is very passionate about the tequila process, it’s more about having a fancy product on your table. Because it is more expensive to make, and it doesn’t reach at that much other than the image of what it is. As far as I know, it could have been better before, it just looks a little nicer. ‘Cause now you get with this renewed image. It’s more of a designer thing. And if you like paying for designer stuff, then be my guest. But if you just want the thing and wanna pay the fair price just go for the extras, or go for the Anejos.

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

Alan: That would be my recommendation.

Mike: I totally agree with you. It’s just interesting for me to ask different people in the industry, especially those who are producing tequilas, not only for themselves, but for other customers, and to see where that category is fitting in right now. Before I let you go, we’ve spent some wonderful time with you, Alan, thank you so much. If there’s one thing that you want people to know about G4, or about El Pandillo, in general, what would it be? If you had like one thing that you wanted to tell people about about it, what would you say?

Alan: Well, one thing that I would like to say for everyone to hear is, our money is not being put in the advertising. So, yeah, you may not fall in love with the image of it, but just taste it and tell us what you think. So far, where we’re confident with that. The response has been mostly positive. People do think that it is worth it, that the things that we’re doing and the things that we’re omitting. ‘Cause, otherwise if we were to invest that much into the advertising you would see that reflected on the price of the bottle as well. ‘Cause, that’s how things happen.

Mike: Yeah. No, I totally agree with you. I love… You know, your father, Felipe, has been known as the mad scientist, because of the profiles, and the whole distillery in general. People can go online and they can visit El Pandillo.

Alan: That’s also very flattering, although, it actually came from people literally calling my dad, “Crazy guy.” ‘Cause he had all these ideas that nobody would implement, ’cause they wouldn’t take the risk of doing that. My father just talked them out. And he’s like, “Hey this is viable, let’s just do it.” And now, we’ve got Frankenstein, which is the Tahona that crushes the agave. Now we’ve got Igor, which is the thing that…

Mike: The Shredder?

Alan: Yeah, the shredder exactly. And, so these pieces didn’t exist, but now I’m seeing prototypes of new things that are based on that. I just saw another Tahona, I saw my first Tahona, that is based on Frankenstein.

Mike: Oh, really?

Alan: Yeah, I saw it first-hand, about two or three miles away from here. They were building it. The same guy that built it for us. So I’m excited to see that happen, and I feel like we’ve definitely built the road for others to walk through in terms of how they can process their own tequila in ways that are more creative, so to speak.

Mike: Well, I think that’s outstanding. I love… Please give your dad a big hug for me, and for you and your brother. I’m so glad that we had this time to kick around some ideas. And you took the time. And I know we’ve had some technical difficulties on both ends. But it turned out great, thanks again for being with us here on Open Bar. I’m Mike…

Alan: Thank you, thank you. It’s an honor for me to be here finally. I’ve been following your interviews in the past. So, yeah, for me to be here… I feel like it was my turn to be in the spotlight.

Mike: Yeah, it’s your turn to jump in the barrel. [laughter]

Alan: My time to jump in the barrel, for sure. [chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, man. Hey, thanks again for spending the time with us and please give my best you to your dad, Felipe, and your brother. And hopefully on our next trip out there, we’ll be able to swing by and see you guys if you happen to be in town, or maybe you’ll come up to Texas here to the San Antonio where I live.

Alan: Yeah, yeah. I’m down. I was there recently, but…

Mike: Yeah, you were, we were in California.

Alan: Our schedule was tight. We just went there. We made a couple of talks about it and then we’re back. I’m eager to come back, we’re not that far away. Just take a flight, go check it out.

Mike: Build bridges, instead of walls, pal. That’s what I care about. Thanks again for being with us on Open Bar. Thank you again for putting up with our technical difficulties. And again, have yourself a great rest of your afternoon, I appreciate the time, and as soon as this is up we’ll let everybody know. Okay? So, thanks again. Thank you, Alan, I appreciate it.

Alan: Have a nice day, Mike.

Mike: You too man, take care.

[chuckle]

Mike: Bye bye.

# End #

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Open Bar | Jose Aceves, Master Distiller at Casa Aceves

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Review of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico

Review of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5Q1There are too many fascinating facets to Marie Sarita Gaytan’s book, Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico.

Gaytan takes the reader on a sweeping journey of Aztec myths and legends, pre-and post colonial occupation; from the Mexican Revolution to Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema, all the way up to 2014, the date of the book’s publication.

Written in an academic-style format, complete with footnotes and references, one realizes the scope of Gaytan’s daunting undertaking–

Detailing tequila’s trajectory from a drink just for “country people” to the spirit of a nation.

In every epoch explored, the author pinpoints where tequila (and pulque and mezcal) fit into the overall image of lo mexicano—what Ms. Gaytan refers to as “an idea, a sensibility, and the fiction that there exists a collective, unified Mexican national consciousness. The notion that there is one true way of being Mexican….”

Some of the memorable highlights exposed are:

–Pulque was seen as “associated with native identity and urban unrest” and “made it an unlikely contender to symbolize the modernizing [Mexican] nation.”

–Likewise, mezcal was seen as lacking the “symbolic capital” necessary to represent Mexico.

–Pancho Villa’s reputation as a violent bandit fueled by excessively drinking tequila was actually an image made up by the American Media, most notably, the Los Angeles Times, which arguably may have cost him his life.

–Mexican cinema (1936-1969), and its popular charro icons like Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante, managed to indelibly imprint “macho” images and gender roles between men and women. Yet, there were a handful of women on screen, as well as on stage and in radio, who at the time successfully pushed the limits of these gender roles.

–The jimador, the Aztec goddess Mayahuel, and even the Virgen de Guadalupe have each been used to “portray Mexico as a simultaneously modern, unified and prestigiously prehistoric,” as well as, “…fostering the perception of a nostalgic indigenous past [that] is crucial for appearing to unite the population under a single—and easily commodified—Mexican identity.”

–Mexican state and federal officials, executives of transnational tequila companies, and the tourism industry help to fashion tequila as “…a vital and vibrant symbol of the nation.”

–Through the use of programs like the Distintivo T and others, individuals are recruited to “demonstrate their commitment not only to tequila but to the nation [of Mexico] itself.”

The most intriguing section of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico, is by far the interviews Ms. Gaytan conducted with several individuals that examined consumers’ drinking traditions on both sides of the border.

Considering the current political climate between the United States and Mexico, and the present uncertainty surrounding NAFTA, the outcomes of these interviews prove to be culturally enlightening.

Here’s a hint…

Take a look at the substantial footnotes and references listed at the end of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico. You are sure to come across several books and published papers that you might feel compelled to investigate yourself.

Among them are several solid resources from Ana Valenzuela Zapata, Sarah Bowen, and Ms. Gaytan herself, who have each been featured on Tequila Aficionado’s Women in The Tequila Industry series.

Our apologies to Ms. Gaytan for being so tardy in insisting that every student of tequila, and lover of Mexico, should include this extremely important book in your personal reference libraries.

Tequila!  Distilling the Spirit of Mexico is available at Amazon.com and other booksellers in both ebook and hardcopy.

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Women In The Bacanora Industry: Adriana Torres

Women In The Bacanora Industry: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5OU

We first encountered Adriana Torres through Novel Spirits Collection, the US importer of her flagship bacanora brand, Pascola Bacanora.

The more we heard about her from Connie and Mel Abert, the owners of Novel Spirits, the more intrigued we became with her background.

You can read about her herculean efforts to revitalize Sonora, Mexico’s once thriving bacanora industry in her own words here.

Launching what we hope to be the first in a long list of Bacanora Boss Ladies, we induct Adriana Torres into our gallery of Women In the Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industry series.

What follows are her answers to our customary handful of questions.

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

***

 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 Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries?)

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

AT:  My experiences were difficult, primarily because when we began, we were the first to formalize a female owned company in the bacanora industry.

But, truthfully, in all this time, I’ve received lots of support from great men in the industry.

Women In The Bacanora Industry: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5OU

(Dificiles, principalmente porque cuando yo inicie en la industria del Bacanora, fuimos de las primeras en formalizarnos y era de mujeres.

Pero la verdad he que en todo este tiempo he recibido muchísimo apoyo por parte de grandes hombres relacionados con la industria.)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries?

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

AT:  The truth is, just doing the work.

Doing things right and being loyal to our principles and values.  Being consistent in what we say and do.

And, above all else, taking care of the little details.

(La verdad, solo con trabajo, haciendo las cosas bien y siendo leal a nuestros principios y valores. Ser coherentes en lo que se dice y se hace, y sobre todo cuidando los pequeños detalles.)

 TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries?

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

AT:  We’re growing.

It’s been 12 years since I became involved in this industry and my company was the only one that considered [employed] women.

Over time, many more businesses have incorporated women intoWomen In The Bacanora Industry: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5OU their processes [like] wives and daughters, as well as contracting women in the areas of design, management and sales.

We ourselves will be working with female vinateras (bacanora distillers).  The wife of one of our producers will begin to distill one of our own brands.

(Vamos en crecimiento, hace 12 años que me incorpore a esta industria mi empresa era la única que consideraba mujeres, al paso del tiempo varias de las empresas han ido incorporando mujeres dentro de sus procesos, a las esposas, las hijas, contratando mujeres en el área de diseño, gestión y ventas.

Incluso nosotras empezaremos a trabajar con mujeres vinateras, la esposa de uno de nuestros productores empezara a producir una de nuestras marcas.)

 TA:  What facets of the Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries would you like to see change?

(¿Qué cosas gustaría cambiado? )

AT:  To stop looking at the [bacanora] industry as just another source for profits.

We should value what the industry really stands for.

That bacanora won’t become like tequila or mezcal, but continues being an exclusive product, based on supply and not demand.

That bacanora truly becomes a driving force for the economy, the environment, and the culture of Sonora, Mexico and the world.

That is what we are striving for.

(Dejar de ver la industria como una Fuente de ingresos unicamente, valorar todo lo que la industria realmente representa, que el Bacanora no sea como el tequila ni el mescal, que siga siendo un product exclusivo, basado en la oferta y no la demanda, que realmente el bacanora se convierta en un motor de la economia, medio ambiente y cultura de Sonora, Mexico y el mundo.

Nosotros en eso estamos trabajando.)

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

(Esta Ud de acuerdo con la comercialización de marcas de tequilas o mezcales, hoy en dia?)

AT:  Of course!

They are ancestral distillates that represent us.  They are spirits with the flavor of Mexico from distinct regions of the country.

We must preserve the tradition.

(Claro, son destilados ancestrales, que nos representan. Son bebidas espirituosas con sabor a Mexico, de las distintas regiones del país.

Necesitamos conservar la tradicion.)

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries 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, Mezcal o Bacanora en una forma u otra?)

AT:  We need to work in a united way.  We should care for the tradition, history, and culture of Sonora.

We should guarantee quality products, and motivate our producers to make their products like we care for our families.

Bacanora is a noble spirit.  It is a product that would allow us to recuperate many lost aspects in our state, from social, cultural, economic and environmental.

I invite them to conscientiously participate in the development of the industry.  That Bacanora achieves for Sonora what Tequila is for Jalisco, and Mezcal is for Oaxaca.

Women In The Bacanora Industry: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5OU

(Necesitamos trabajar de manera unida, debemos cuidar la tradición, la historia y la cultura de Sonora. Debemos garantizar productos de calidad, debemos motivar a nuestros productores a que realicen su producto como nosotras cuidamos a nuestras familias. El bacanora es un producto noble, un producto que nos puede permitir recuperar muchos aspectos perdidos en nuestro estado, desde aspectos sociales, culturales, económicos como los de medio ambiente.

Las invito a participar de una manera consiente en el desarrollo de la industria, lograr que el Bacanora se convierta para Sonora, en lo que el Tequila es para Jalisco y el Mezcal para Oaxaca.)

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

A Bacanora Boss Lady Tells All: Adriana Torres

Adriana Torres:  Bacanora Boss Lady

A Bacanora Boss Lady Tells All: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5MZSo, how does a well-educated, forty-something mother of three get deeply involved in the remote bacanora-distilling communities of rural Sonora?

For this “Bacanora Boss Lady,” it began as a university school project.

We’ll let Adriana tell you her amazing and life-changing journey–in her own words–but first…

Meet Bacanora

Mezcal is all the craze these days.

But, as the legendary Martin Grassl so aptly pointed out, knowledgeable consumers continue to move away from the bland, cookie-cutter flavor profiles of most mass market tequilas.

In their quest to challenge their taste buds even further, more and more are turning to other luscious Mexican agave spirits like sotol, raicilla and bacanora.

A Troubled Past

Made using Sonora’s native Angustifolia Haw plant (Agave Pacifica), the production of Bacanora was banned in 1915 by the powerful, post-revolutionary Governor of Sonora, Plutarco Elias Calles.

According to leading bacanora expert and historian, Dr. Luis Núñez Noriega:

“Bacanora consumption had become so widespread throughout the state, the intolerant government banned the spirit, and severely punished anyone caught drinking or making it – sometimes by imprisonment, sometimes by death!”

A Bacanora Boss Lady Tells All: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5MZ

This Prohibition-style ban forced vinateros (bacanora distillers) into the hills to continue making the spirit in secret, much like American moonshiners and bootleggers.

Bacanora production was illegal until 1992, and in 2005 was issued a Denomination of Origin, but claims an existence of 300 years, mas o menos.

A Bacanora Boss Lady Tells All

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

***

[English]

Maria Adriana Torres de la Huerta, 46 years old, mother of 3 children, divorced.  Professional career as an Industrial Engineer and Systems Manager, with a Master’s Degree in Agribusiness and a truncated doctorate in Strategic Planning for the Improvement of Human Performance and Development.

Since the age of 24, my professional development is in the agro-A Bacanora Boss Lady Tells All: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5MZindustrial segment despite not being raised in the countryside.

The love I have for it and its activities were instilled in me by my father who is a medical veterinary zootechnician and a docent at the Technological Institute of Sonora, Mexico.

My experience began at the Rural Bank in the area of strategic projects like aquaculture, protected agriculture and agro-industries, working in the countryside [in the field], and for the countryside.

In 2006, as destiny would have it, I began my studies at the university school of business at the Technological Institute of Sonora.

One of the principal requirements [by the rector] was to find projects that enabled regional, sustainable development.

The businesses that were created or supported had to provide [aggregated] value to Sonora, as well as to allow for the development of its most vulnerable [overlooked] communities.

It was in that search, at the end of 2007, that I met my founding partner of the brand, Pascola Bacanora.

Alma Lourdes Peña Gomez introduced me to Bacanora, and that was when I knew this was a project worth pursuing.

We began working on formalizing the spirit.  It allowed me to become an associate of the business to obtain the commercialization authorizations, production license, and exportation permits.

That’s when I began to understand the real significance of Bacanora production to the state of Sonora.

I began visiting these communities, listening to the stories told by the producers [distillers], the majority of whom were men already advanced in age.

They related how, in the post-revolutionary time, La Acordada (that’s what the authorities were called in those days) destroyed the bacanora vinatas [distilleries] and lynched many of the producers of this alcoholic beverage.

As time passed, and the more we became involved, I understood and observed why so many of the vinatas we located in ravines and in the most remote places of the mountain range.

I concluded that thanks to the fortunate stubbornness of those producers, this activity [of distilling bacanora] that has so much cultural significance and connotation to the citizens of Sonora, didn’t disappear.

Since 2007 until now, the business has undergone many changes, but definitely persistence and commitment have allowed me to keep working with this brand and my own private labels, adding to my team people with the same focus.

I continue working towards positioning bacanora as one of the best distillates in the world.  And Bacanora Pascola as one of the pioneer brands that opened the breach between an artisanal bacanora and a 100% quality artisanal bacanora.

I am a bacanora producer.

[Spanish]

MAA Adriana Torres de la Huerta, 46 años, madre de 3 hijos, divorciada, profesionista con la carrera de Ingeniero Industrial y de Sistemas, Maestria en Administración de Agronegocios y doctorado trunco en Planeacion Estrategica para la mejora del Desempeño humano.

Mi desarrollo profesional se da en el área agroindustrial desde los 24 años de edad, a pesar de no haber crecido en el campo, el amor por él y sus actividades fueron inculcadas por mi padre que es Medico Veterinario Zootecnista y ademas docente en el Instituto Tecnologico de Sonora.

Mi desarrollo inicio en el Banco Rural en el área de proyectos estratégicos como lo era la acuacultura, agricultura protegida y agroindustrias, trabajando por el campo y para el campo.

Pero es en el año 2006 cuando por azares del destino inicio mi labor en la universidad dentro de la Incubadora de Empresas del ITSON y donde una de las principales encomiendas del Rector fue la de buscar proyectos que permitieran el desarrollo regional sustentable, que las empresas que se crearan o se apoyaran en su desarrollo fueran empresa que dieran valor agregado al Estado y que permitieran el desarrollo de las comunidades mas vulnerables del estado.

En esa búsqueda, a finales de 2007 se acerca a mi la socia fundadora de la marca Bacanora Pascola Alma Lourdes Peña Gomez, la cual me dio a conocer lo que era el Bacanora, y en ese momento supe que este era el proyecto por el cual debería luchar.

A Bacanora Boss Lady Tells All: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5MZ

Empezamos a trabajar en la formalidad de la bebida, lo que permitío hacerme socia de la empresa al lograr los permisos para la comercialización, la licencia de producción y los permisos de exportación.

Asi comencé a conocer lo que realmente significaba la producción de bacanora para el Estado, empece a realizar visitas a las comunidades, escuchar las historias de los productores, los cuales en su mayoría eran hombres ya entrados en años, nos relataban cómo en los tiempos postrevolucionarios, La Acordada (como le llamaban a la justicia en esa época) destruía las vinatas de bacanora y ahorcaban a muchos de los que producian esta bebida alcohólica.

Con el tiempo y entre mas nos adentrábamos, empece a entender y a observar porque muchas de las vinatas se encuentran en las cañadas y en los lugares mas recónditos de la sierra.

Pude concluir que gracias a la afortunada terquedad de esos productores que permitieron que no desapareciera esta actividad de tanta connotación y pertenencia cultural para los sonorenses.

Desde 2007 a la fecha la empresa ha sufrido muchos cambios pero definitivamente la terquedad y el compromiso han permitido que yo siga trabajando con esta marca y mis marcas propias, sumando a mi equipo personas con el mismo fin.

Y continuo trabajando en pro de que el bacanora se posicione como uno de los mejores destilados del mundo y Bacanora Pascola como una de las marcas pioneras que abrió la brecha entre un bacanora artesanal y un bacanora artesanal 100% de calidad.

Soy Productora de Bacanora.

More on Bacanora

In this short interview, Adriana Torres explains more of the bacanora distilling process to the Spanish speaking audience.

 

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Women in Mezcal: Traditional Roles vs. Market Assumptions

Women in Mezcal: Traditional Roles vs. Market Assumptions https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5LWWomen Making Mezcal in Oaxaca: Division of Labour between the Sexes

Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D.

It is inaccurate to suggest that mezcal production in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca is by and large a man’s job or trade, and that there are very few palenqueras, that is artisanal mezcal distillers who are women. The female of the specie makes mezcal.  Women’s involvement in the processes is essentially determined by the same criteria used to understand sex roles in other vocations in rural Oaxaca; strength and stamina, traditional child-rearing and other household responsibilities.

As most mezcal aficionados know, palenqueros (using the more generic term for male and female producers of the agave based spirit) typically do not read books or watch youtube videos to learn how to make the iconic Mexican, typically high alcohol content drink.  They learn from their fathers, their uncles and their grandfathers, just as their relatives before them, over the course of generations.  Young girls, just as young boys, begin learning the trade, virtually from infancy; watching, helping, and fantasizing their futures as palenqueros while in the course of playing on their own or with their friends and siblings. I frequently bear witness to this acquisition of knowledge.

Women in Mezcal: Traditional Roles vs. Market Assumptions https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5LWCustomarily women raise families, dating to the hunter and gatherer division of labor in humankind. Mothers remained close to home with the children, gathering fruits, nuts, berries, etc., and preparing meals, while their male partners were off on extended hunting expeditions often requiring that they be fleet of foot, and at times requiring more physical fortitude than women could muster. With mezcal production, typically the fields of agave under cultivation are relatively far from home, and if wild maguey is sought, the palenquero is often required to walk a couple of hours into the hills before coming across his bounty. The same holds true for scrounging and cutting firewood to fuel ovens and stills.  Furthermore, lifting the piñas (heart of the succulent used to produce mezcal) often requires more strength than traditionally exhibited by women.  Although sometimes while the palenquero is still in the field the piñas are cut into smaller pieces for their eventual baking, whether whole or halved they can weigh hundreds of pounds and must be lifted into trucks or onto the sides of donkeys or mules.

Women in Mezcal: Meanwhile…Back at the Palenque

Once back at the palenque (artisanal mezcal distillery), which often adjoins the homestead proper or is in close proximity to it, women’s work making mezcal begins in earnest, of course subject to their priority obligation of preparing meals and tending to the children. They nevertheless are often, and customarily, an integral part of the baking, crushing, fermenting and distilling processes, working alongside and even dictating to men.

Women in Mezcal: Traditional Roles vs. Market Assumptions https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5LWTrue enough, women much less than men are involved in cutting the agave into appropriately sized pieces back at the palenque in preparation for baking, again for reasons relating to stamina and strength required to wield machetes, axes and mallets. Similarly splitting logs and loading the oven with large, heavy tree trunks is typically men’s work. But then when it comes to filling the oven with stones, wet bagazo (waste fiber from distillation), piñas, tarpaulins and earth, women participate, typically as equals to men. Even in the face of whatever remnants persist of the perceived macho mexicano, once the rocks in the oven have been sufficiently heated, it is important to second as many helpers both male and female to get the rest of the work done as expeditiously as possible filling and then sealing the oven airtight.

Women as well as men remove the piñas from the oven once the carbohydrates have been converted to sugars, or caramelized.  Later on, in preparation for a subsequent bake, once again individuals of both sexes empty the chamber of the bagazo, stones and charcoal remaining at the bottom.  These women are the daughters, daughters-in-law, mothers, wives/partners, nieces and granddaughters. I see them all participating, not infrequently, and they are as much a part of the processes as their male counterparts, including actually being in charge of directing and decision-making.

When crushing the baked agave is done by hand, then yes, almost exclusively it is men who attend to this most arduous task. But working the horse, determining when the pieces of maguey have been sufficiently pulverized, loading the receptacles for fermenting whether into wooden slat tanks, in-ground lined pits, bovine skins, or otherwise, is often the work of men and women shared equally. Similarly women are often the ones who load up and tend the stills be they clay or copper, decide upon the optimum ABV (alcohol by volume), and determine the appropriate cuts of head, body and tail so as to result in best possible flavor of the resulting double distilled mezcal.

But now let’s assume that the palenquera is also charged with typical household chores including meal preparation for the family and raising the children including attending to their health, education and general welfare. She cannot of course be reasonably expected to look after all this, as well as partner with her husband for example, in terms of directing and attending to all of the foregoing tasks required in the spirit’s production.  However upon hearing the shout or receiving the cellular phone call from her male partner, cousin, son or father, she’s there, as needed. In addition, she is the one remaining at home in charge of sales. She typically also prepares comida for the men, and in fact it is customary when the home is not alongside the palenque, for the woman to bring food and drink for those (men) who are at some stage of producing the spirit;  all this, as well as making mezcal.

Women in Mezcal: Necessity Dictates Roles

Economic necessity on occasion dictates that a woman, to almost the complete exclusion of men except in a support role, become a palenquera.  She plants, tends, cuts and harvests maguey; splits logs, and even crushes by hand. In one case a husband/palenquero died suddenly in a car accident, leaving his wife and four young children. She became a palenquera in the traditional sense, doing everything previously done by her late husband, and raising the children. In another case a single mother’s two children left home for the US in their late teens, leaving her and her mother as the householders. She had learned mezcal production from her grandfather.  Currently she has a reputation for being one of the very few palenqueras who does it all and produces one of the finest mezcals produced in the entire state of Oaxaca.  She directs her underlings, that is, male cousins and neighbors, as to how to produce mezcal based on her exacting recipe. The foregoing are two exceptions to the tradition of both men and women working together, cooperatively with members of their families and communities.

A shift in paradigm is both warranted and strongly suggested when it comes to our perception of the industry being mainly within the purview of men. Women deserve to have their proper and important place acknowledged in the world of mezcal production in rural Oaxaca.

 

Alvin Starkman operates Mezcal Educational Excursions of Oaxaca (www.mezcaleducationaltours.com).   

Women in Mezcal: Traditional Roles vs. Market Assumptions https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5LW

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

How to Get Paid to Drink Tequila:

How you can turn your passion into profits and get paid to drink tequila as a blogger, vlogger, podcaster or author

 

Salud!!