Mansplaining Revel Spirits Avila

You thought you knew everything there was to know about the main Mexican agave spirits–

Pulque, Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol and Bacanora.

Then, along comes another one you’ve never heard of…

Avila.

What the hell is it?

Glad you asked.

Get Acquainted with Avila

You first heard about Revel Spirits’ Avila on Sipping Off the Cuff(c).

In 2016, during our very successful Heartland Tour, we led the Revel Avila Spirits Experience.  It was a delightful sampling of its three expressions to a packed house of VIPs at 6 Smith restaurant on the shores of Lake Minnetonka.

And, for the agave geek in all of us, Revel Avila Agave Spirit Facts explains away the mysteries and misconceptions of Revel Spirits Avila.

Why Haven’t We Heard of Avila Before?

Simply put, it doesn’t have a Denomination of Origin–yet.

This magnifies what the good folks at Revel Spirits are trying to accomplish.

Rather than being accepted and lumped into the Tequila or Mezcal designations, Revel Spirits has undertaken the herculean task of starting a whole new spirits category.

Not only are they importing a luscious distillate, but they are working closely with the government of Morelos to establish its own Denomination of Origin (DO).

Giving Back at The Ranch

One of the basic pillars that Revel Spirits is based on is philanthropy. So, in the meantime, the company has pledged to act just like a proper Geographic Indicator.

Revel Spirits is helping to lay the groundwork that will support the farmers’ and jimadores’ livelihoods, preserve Morelos’ unique environment, and safeguard the supply of blue weber agave for generations to come.

This last phase is accomplished by allowing bats to pollinate the blue agave, an ancient technique that is nearly lost in the Tequila Industry.

All this will aid the growth of the economy of the Mexican state of Morelos.

Favorite Pairing

Revel Spirits Avila anejo, aged for 24 months in French oak barrels and bottled at 48% ABV, or 96 proof, is a rare gem.

It can be paired equally as well with a rich dessert, or a fine after dinner cigar.  Notes of bitter chocolate or cacao, and coffee beans, along with wood and tobacco undertones, makes it a versatile expression.

Enjoy!

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!

Tequila Aficionado Highlights 2018 with the Brands of Promise© Awards

Female Master Distillers Dominate in Distinct

Agave Spirits Categories

 For Immediate release!

Tequila Aficionado Media 2018 Brands of Promise© Awards

January, 15, 2019, San Antonio, TXOn Monday, January 14, Tequila Aficionado Highlights 2018 with the Brands of Promise© Awards https://wp.me/p3u1xi-64U2019, in a LIVE Facebook Premier broadcast, Tequila Aficionado Media capped off a busy 2018 with its esteemed Sixth Annual Brands of Promise© Awards, acknowledging worthwhile labels of Tequila, Mezcal, Bacanora and other assorted agave distillates.

What a Year!

In a year that saw the rousing success of the 2018 Great Festival Chase Tour, and an earlier than normal deadline for submissions to the Brands Of Promise©, it still took Tequila Aficionado’s eight separate tasters or “Tequila Jockeys” in the US and the UK to determine the winners in each category.

Among the most notable of Tequila Aficionado Media’s 2018 Brands of Promise© Award recipients were…

Maracame tequila which swept Platinum accolades in the Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo branches achieving Best-in-Show recognition.

Giggling Marlin snagged the Extra Anejo bracket with a Gold award, while the stalwart 3 Amigos brand scored the same in the Value tequila classification.

The burgeoning Crystalino tequila category was easily dominated by Louie Vuitton Moet Hennessy’s newest creation, Volcan de mi Tierra, a collaboration with renowned Master Distiller, Ana Maria Romero Mena.

Boss Ladies

The wide variety of agave spirits brought to market by female trailblazers in sub-categories was given thoughtful consideration from Tequila Aficionado Media’s 2018 Brands Of Promise©.

Leading the way was Bacanora Boss Lady, Adriana Torres with a Gold for her gateway, Pascola Bacanora.

Windy City entrepreneur and chef, Sheetal Baghat, garnered Gold with her cinnamon and cumin infused mixto, Spice Note tequila.

Tequila Aficionado Highlights 2018 with the Brands of Promise© Awards https://wp.me/p3u1xi-64U

For only the second time in recent spirits competition history, tequila producer Melly Barajas managed three distinct tequilas on the shelves in 2018.

Ms. Barajas bagged the lioness’ share of hardware with Vikera and TC Craft tequilas, ensuring herself Distiller of the Year honors.

Innovators

Tequila Aficionado Highlights 2018 with the Brands of Promise© Awards https://wp.me/p3u1xi-64UPioneering distiller, Martin Grassl, along with India’s famed native spirits impresario Desmond Nazareth, captured a Gold medal in Agave Spirits with their Porfidio Single 100% Agave Americana Edition.

Obscure brand Onilikan procured three Golds in Aguardiente, Aguardiente infused with fruit, and Mexican gin, all produced from Blue Weber Agave outside of the Denomination of Origin of tequila.

A battle royale resulted in a tie for Organic Blanco tequila.  Texas-based Ryno, and a resubmission from 2017, Juan More Time, now with an Organic Certification, each scored a Gold.  Both are produced at the Las Americas distillery (NOM 1480).

Lastly, the Mezcal sector was completely disrupted by upstart Cuentacuentos when it unanimously received 4 Gold citations in Ancestral and Artesanal mezcals distilled from different agave.

About the Brands of Promise©–Changing the Game

The Tequila Aficionado Media Brands of Promise© Awards were our response to a secondary industry that has sprouted up around awards programs for spirits.

Agave Spirits brands that Tequila Aficionado Media reviews for FREE each year could qualify to be a Brands of Promise© nominee–at NO COST.

In a very much pay-to-play world, Tequila Aficionado Media has changed the game.

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For a complete list of nominees, winners, and video awards presentation, click here.  To enter your tequila, mezcal, sotol, raicilla, bacanora or other agave spirit or related product in the coveted 2019 Brands of Promise© Awards, email mike@tequilaaficionado.com , NOW!

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!

5 Reasons to Tour with Tequila Aficionado

You might be wondering what’s in it for you when we suggest your Brand of Promise© tour with Tequila Aficionado.

We’re the only agency that tours with brands so it is a valid question.

Following are five big reasons why you should hop on the next Tequila Aficionado Tour:

  1. Give your social networks a jumpstart. A Tequila Aficionado Tour is 4-6 months of concentrated photo and video opportunities where we create social media content that you might not have the time, inclination or inspiration to create yourself.  This can help to jumpstart your social media efforts or just give them a welcome boost.
  2. Great end of year campaign. The last quarter of the year is the biggest spirits selling season of all.  Unless your brand has deep pockets, it’s impossible to compete with the big boys that throw buckets of cash at traditional advertising.  That’s why we take your brand outside the box and create content that our followers, you, and your fans will love to share virally.
  3. You never know who we’ll share your brand with. We sip with rock stars, tequila royalty, industry movers and shakers, and influential tastemakers.  When your brand tours with us, you never know who we’ll introduce it to but you can be sure we’ll be singing your praises because, after all, it’s a Brand of Promise.
  4. Content you don’t have to create. “User generated content” is a common buzzphrase but few people really understand the influence it carries.  When Tequila Aficionado creates content for and about your brand on tour, you can take that to the bank because we’re sharing it with about 3 million agave spirit aficionados.  If you’re smart, you’re sharing it with your audience too!
  5. Tap into our networks for new fans. We continue to work hard to build and maintain the largest, strongest audience of agave spirit aficionados.  We build our fan base organically, never buy followers, and our numbers aren’t inflated with bots that won’t buy booze.  Our audience is the exact audience you’re looking for because they love agave spirits and they follow the brands we recommend, like yours.

Touring with Tequila Aficionado is an easy answer to building your brand recognition and increasing your customer base.  It’s so easy that some brands think there’s a catch – there isn’t.  You come on tour with us and over 3 million agave spirit aficionados will recognize your brand name when they see it on a shelf – and they’ll remember that Tequila Aficionado recommends it.

The big question now is why haven’t you signed up for the 2018 tour yet?

Click here to get on the 2018 Tour now.

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 Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018

How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

Whether you’re in the business, a savvy consumer, or just an Average Joe overwhelmed by the hype of agave spirits, how can you ensure that you’ll survive the upcoming tequila turmoils of the rest of this year, and beyond?

We’ll show you how.

But first…

Let’s Review

You’ve heard the news of the current agave crisis that we covered in The Agave Panic of 2018:  Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila. 

You’ve kept track of the trend since last year when we explained that The Agave Shortage of 2017 is Worse Than We Thought.

If you’re launching agave spirits brands during this time of crisis, we need a short discussion about–

Mega Distributors

Aside from some notable craft brands being swallowed up by corporate distillers, M & A has been the name of the game in the spirits distribution sector, too.

How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

Late November 2017 brought the news that distributor Breakthru Beverage was set to combine with Texas based distributor Republic National Distribution Company to match 2016’s mega-merger of Southern Wine and Spirits with Glazer’s, Inc.

This means that smaller agave spirits labels are in danger of never gaining the attention of these behemoth corporations.

And, if your small batch agave distillate has been promised a slot in the hulking distributors’ newly formed “craft spirits division,” specifically to “incubate” promising brands, my advice…

Don’t Do It!  It’s A Trap!

How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

Whether they’ve promised your juice a small amount of attention, or you’re in the “full book” (entire spirits catalog), these divisions are engineered to give the up-and-coming little guy a false sense of hope–and a false sense of security–that your gem will be distributed nationwide, some day.

Fat chance.  It’ll never happen. Wake up!

These mammoth distributors are in bed with the Big Boys, and won’t lift a finger to help you get the word out or build your brand.

Whatever that friend-of-a-friend-who’s-been-in-the-business-a-long-time-and-you’ve-been-golfing-buddies-forever has pledged to you, these departments are engineered to safely “sit” on your precious tequila or mezcal because it has been deemed a threat to the shelf space of their higher paying bread-and-butter flagships.How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

With the recent pay-for-play scandals that have been in the booze news lately, this technique is tougher to detect.

You’ll still be in the same boat you’re in now, doing all the work yourself.

Instead…

Support Your Local Distributor

Not a day goes by where a rising agave star doesn’t ask us for recommendations on a “good distributor” [There’s an oxymoron!] in any state.

Personally, I hesitate to recommend any particular distributor.  I’m not a big fan of them.  Some will argue that the Three Tier System of distribution in the United States is archaic, and serves only the Big Brands.

That said, small-to-mid sized distributors, in my opinion, will become even more important in the grand scheme of things, especially in light of the next impeding mega-merger between Republic National and Breakthru Beverage.

If you’re lucky enough to find hustlers like agave-centric Glass Bottom Distributors in Southern California, or Creospirits in Arizona, your troubles might be fewer.

On the other hand, if you decide to go with a small wine house, or choose a beer distributor or some other arrangement, you’ll still need to instruct their sales staff on how to sell your agave spirit.

Assume that they are simply order takers and woefully under trained (they are!) on anything other than wine or beer, or what’s “on spiff.”

When instructing these salespeople, speak to them in terms they will understand, and don’t have high expectations.

Maybe, just maybe, they won’t disappoint you too much.

Savvy Consumer

You’re one smart cookie.

Not too many people can pull the wool over your eyes, but…

You’re afraid of falling for the excessive marketing that’s endlessly broadcasted to you from all sides of the tequila aisle.

Relax.How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

We suggest you re-read our 2-part series, Craft Tequila:  WTF Does THAT Mean? Part 1.  And, the guidelines put forth in the Craft Tequila Gauntlet in Part 2.

Add Kosher

While you’re at it, add kosher tequila and mezcal to your arsenal, too.

Don’t laugh.  It’s a billion dollar business.

If Rothschild can release a kosher rose champagne, what’s keeping tequilas and mezcals from doing it, too?

Check out our 4 part series, The BIG Business of Kosher Tequila, Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 .

The Average Joe

If you’re just an Average Joe, and even if you’ve done all the aforementioned due diligence, you’re still in danger.
How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

Rather than taking shortcuts in order to meet heavy worldwide demand and risk losing quality, some reputable tequila makers have reportedly stopped distilling temporarily in the hopes that agave prices will level out.

[At this writing, agave prices are at $25 pesos per kilo.]

One industry insider confessed to us, however, that a major brand name tequila had switched completely to using diffusers to produce its tequilas.

Asked whether the owner of this large distillery was concerned that the quality of his juice would suffer, he admitted that he didn’t care.

He defended his position by saying that his tequila had been around for so long, and was moving a significant amount of cases, that consumers would never know the difference, anyway.

To purists, news like this breaks their heart.

To savvy consumers, this deliberate disrespect of the public’s intelligence should raise their hackles.

To the Average Joe, this will make your head spin because you make your buying decisions based mostly on tried and true names that you’ve always trusted.

Mainstay brands that were standouts before being bought by global companies, or invested in by foreigners outside of Mexico, are banking that you’ll fall for their marketing–and, on your ignorance.

Don’t let them!

How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

What Else You Can Do

Support small producers of agave spirits.

The Big Boys will always weather the storm, but a few of the little guys could be out of business over the course of the next five years or so.

In promoting them–and even some of the more popular brands, it seems–expect to pay more at your local bar or liquor store.

Whether the agave crisis is fact, fiction or a fusion of both, the scarcity of a commodity will always drive prices higher.

In this thoughtful article by the non-profit advocacy group, Tequila Interchange Project, here’s what else you can do to prepare for what’s to come–without selling out.

Informed agave spirits consumers should always strive to drink for a greater, and more balanced, agave distillates industry.

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!

What is a Tequila Aficionado Tour?

What is a Tequila Aficionado Tour?

Tequila Aficionado Tours were created in 2015 by Lisa Pietsch and Mike Morales as a cooperative marketing program for Brands of Promise© that might not be able to finance huge end-of-year publicity pushes.

By sharing the cost of a massive campaign among all the participating expressions, we’ve been able to maximize brand exposure and content creation while keeping price points manageable for even the smallest craft brands.

 

What do sponsors get?

The sponsor package changes every year to provide the greatest social exposure possible on the most popular social networks.  We analyze the trends for the strongest social platforms and their most in-demand content to determine the best bang for sponsor bucks.

This year’s tour is video heavy so we’re bringing on more crew and equipment to create the most authentic video content we can for our sponsors.

Do sponsors travel with you?

We travel in an RV and carry 2 bottles of each sponsored expression with us.  One for photography and another for the tasting at El Cholo.  El Cholo is the only event we’re pouring at.  We do not have room for brand representatives to travel with us, but they are welcome to attend the shows and be interviewed and photographed with their brands.

What events will be on the tour?

By adding coverage of large events to the tour, we plan to continue in a cooperative vein by creating buzz for these events and assisting in their survivability and growth in an age of disappearing Mexican spirits shows.

 

 

The events we’re attending on tour this year include:

  • Mammoth Margarita Festival
  • Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine
  • El Cholo Café Pasadena’s Annual Tequila Tour

Tequila Aficionado Tours are the only cooperative marketing campaign of their kind.  Even if you can’t finance a huge end-of-year publicity push for your brand, you can still afford a Tequila Aficionado Tour.  Nobody else reaching an audience of 3 million agave spirit aficionados can give you 6 months worth of brand exposure at our price.

 

The 2018 Tour is limited to only 60 expressions.

Click here now to reserve spots for all of your brand’s expressions.

 

 

 

 

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!

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila

Bloodshed

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mAOn Jan. 22, 2018, a particularly savvy tequila brand owner announced in a private message to this office:

“Agave prices out of control.  $22/kilo.  Industry getting destroyed!”

Coincidentally, earlier that same day, another brand owner/ambassador admitted to us that the current cost had blown up to $24/kilo.

That savvy brand owner then added to his message–

“…but Cuervo started it.  Bought up a ton of [agave] before their IPO.  Increase balance sheet.  That’s, at least, the word on the street.”

But, shit got REAL for Jose Cuervo when…

Cuervo Cries Wolf

In this El Financiero article dated December 21, 2017, Francisco Beckmann Vidal, owner of Tierra de Agaves and Jose Cuervo, warned of a looming agave shortage.  He…

“…urged agave producers to increase plantings because whether in tons or in number of agaves, the industry requires more of your prime material.  Planting must begin now.  Eyes have to be opened and decisions need to be made.  Only the industry can provoke the necessary changes.”

[“…instó a los productores agaveros a que incrementen los plantíos porque tanto en toneladas o en número de agaves la industria cada vez requiere de más de sus materia prima, “hay que empezar a plantar desde ahorita. Hay que abrir los ojos y tomar decisiones. Solamente la industria es la que va a provocar estos cambios que se necesitan hacer.”]

Like Shaggy said–

It wasn’t me!

 Here’s Your Sign

All the signs of an impending shortage were there.  Major spirits distributors, tequila and even mezcal brands jockeyed for position in the Agave Triple Crown race.

In 2015, Diageo, the world’s largest producer of spirits, swapped its Bushmills Irish The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mAwhiskey brand for Don Julio, previously owned by José Cuervo.

After Cuervo’s early February 2017 initial public offering, Davos Brands acquired a controlling interest in Master Sommelier Richard Betts’ Sombra Mezcal and Astral Tequila brands, in March.

Then, in early June 2017, spirits and wine behemoth, Pernod Ricard, purchased a significant stake in founder Ron Cooper’s beloved Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals amid uproar from long time fans claiming “sell out.”

Later that June, in a surprising move, Diageo bought Casamigos tequila, co-founded by celebs George Clooney and Rande Gerber, for up to $1 billion.

All this time, Bacardi, lurking like a shark in the water, in January 2018, bared its jaws and swallowed up Patron for a reported $5.1 billion.

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mA

Pernod Ricard, in an attempt to get the last word in January 2018, shelled out the big bucks to purchase the remaining 16% of Ken Austin’s Avion tequila that it had invested $100 million in back in 2014.

M & A was the name of the game in the spirits distribution sector, too.

Late November 2017 brought the news that distributor Breakthru Beverage was set to combine with Texas based Republic National Distribution Company to match 2016’s mega-merger of Southern Wine and Spirits with Glazer’s, Inc.

Real, or Fake?

Some skeptics still don’t believe that an agave shortage exists.

Unlike the more seasoned, and–dare I say–older sippers, this may be the first time Millennials and Gen Xers have ever experienced a truly severe Agave Crisis.

Others completely ignore the fact declaring an upcoming tequila boom, instead, instigated by the Big Three named above.

Even in this article in the Spirits Business, Vinexpo, the leading wine and spirits trade show, and IWSR (International Wine & Spirits Research) predict that:

“The fastest-growing spirit category in terms of volume will be Tequila, which is predicted to increase by 118% between 2016 and 2021 to 35m cases.”

Seriously?

 Thank You, Captain Obvious

We told you last year this was coming.The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mA

Weren’t you paying attention?

In the article The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thought we outlined the reasons for the then looming crisis.

Still, you bought ALL the tequila and mezcal you could drink, didn’t you?

The Numbers Don’t Lie

According to DISCUS, 17.2 million cases of tequila were sold in 2017.  3.2 million of those cases were in the pricey Super Premium category, alone.

Must have been a good year for some of you.

On the Mexico side of the border, things aren’t so rosy.

Freak Out

According to these articles in Joe  , Telam , and Reuters

“This year [2018], a total of 42 million agave plants were projected to supply 140 registered companies.  However, only 17.7 million of those planted in 2011 are ready to be harvested, the Tequila Regulatory Council and National Tequila Industry Chamber have said.”

That’s assuming producers are using full grown agave.  As explained in the above articles–including our own–2 to 4 year old immature agaves are being sold, as well.

With the use of diffusers by the large producers like Sauza and Bacardi (Cazadores), the age of agave plants used to make tequila is irrelevant.

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mA

About Those Stolen Agave

For several years, now, growers in Oaxaca had reported that truckloads of stolen (or purchased) espadin used to make mezcal were headed for tequila distilleries in Jalisco.

Now, a reported 15,000 blue agave plants have been hijacked from blue agave growers supplying the Big Boys.  That’s triple the amount reported in 2016.

It is presumed that these pilfered plants were going to los mieleros (Big Pharma) since they pay bigger bucks for blue weber agave.

So, there is some poetic justice during this Agave Crisis.

 The Blame Game

As much as major metropolitan areas would like to believe that they carry this much clout, cities like New York are NOT to blame.

On the other hand, brands like Houston based Pura Vida blames the Big Guys, too.

Austin based Dulce Vida tequila agrees.

And, one more for good measure from this small brand owner via LinkedIn on February 5, 2018:

[“The sad reality for small producers that depend on purchasing ripe agave that results in extraordinary 100% blue agave tequila is that the Large Makers are the ones who have stockpiled huge quantities of premature agave.  But the 4 year old plants don’t yield good tequila.  Moreover, it requires double the amount of prime material [agave] for the production of tequila.  In short, the very same Large Producers have aggravated the problem and devastated the cultivation of blue agave.”]

While we’re pointing fingers, let’s accuse the real culprit of this economic and agricultural mess, shall we?

Greed

In October 2017, we spoke to Master Distiller of G4, Terralta, and Pasote–and agave grower–Felipe Camarena.

Minutes before the VIP Hour of El Cholo’s yearly Tequila Tour began, he briefly outlined to me in simple mathematical terms, how much per kilo he’d require to make a nice, honest living growing agave.

The amount was not unreasonable.  In fact, it was in the single digit range.

By waiting at the last minute, and selling to the highest bidder, Camarena blamed the greed of amateur agave growers for the skyrocketing maguey prices.

How Long?

How long will this agave crisis last?

In January 29, 2018, Master Distiller of Tapatio and Tequila Villa Lobos, Carlos Camarena, gave this gloomy prediction:

What… Me Worry?

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mA

Not everyone is worried, however.  Pernod isn’t

And neither are George and Rande.  Having pocketed their nearly $1 billion, they’re venturing into mezcal, now.

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mA

Be afraid–

Be VERY afraid!

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!

Sotol’s Cultural Appropriation

sotolFor over the past seven years, I’ve been a huge supporter of the Mexican spirit known as sotol.  You can read what I had to say about it in Tom Barry’s excellent article, A Sotol Story.

In case you’re unaware, sotol is made from the Desert Spoon plant (Dasylirion wheeleri) that grows in Northern Mexico, as well as Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas, and what is known as the Texas Hill Country, and all the way south to Oaxaca.

Sotol has its own Denomination of Origin, and can only be produced in the Mexican states of Durango, Chihuahua, and Coahuila.

In the latter part of 2017, there has been a good bit of positive press like this one in Forbes, for three gentlemen from Austin, Texas who have produced their version called Desert Door.  They’ve even opened a distillery in Austin and are giving tours of their facility.

Claiming historical evidence that it has always been smuggled across Texas borders as moonshine, the owners of Desert Door have been quoted in the Forbes article as “…We want to make sotol to Texas what bourbon is to Kentucky.”

In other words, they propose that their version of sotol be adopted as Texas’ official spirit.

Caution:  Rant Ahead

The above statement prompted the following late night Facebook Live rant on one of our final days of the Wild Wild West 2017 Tour.

It was brought to our attention that the above rant was considered “strained,” “weak,” and “petty” after it aired on Facebook.

While the reader had some valid points for his argument, here’s what we do know–

The Facts on Sotol

–Sotol does have a Denomination of Origin (DO), as mentioned above, since 2001-2002.  It is recognized by 27 countries, except the USA.

–Under the original North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1993-94, only Tequila and Mezcal were recognized by both the US and Canada, while Bourbon Whiskey, Tennessee Whiskey, and Canadian Whiskey were all recognized by Mexico.

–However, the 1997 agreement between the European Union and Mexico recognized the intellectual property of Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol and Charanda.

–At this writing, we have solicited samples of Desert Door Texas sotol for our Sipping Off he Cuff(c) series, but have yet to receive any.

–We have tasted Genius Liquids’ version of Texas sotol made from the Dasylirion texanum, a variety of the plant that grows in Texas.  You can read all about it in our article A Sotol By Any Other Name.

Pay close attention to the owner, Mike Groener, as he explained the lengths he took to distill an authentic product by conferring with several sotol producing families in Mexico.

–It is true that Mexico has been less-than-stellar in protecting and maintaining its DOs, especially lately when it comes to amending the Mezcal normas (regulations) and admitting additional states into the producing and growing regions.

It seems that whenever the transnational corporations that heavily lobby for such changes in order to line their pockets (remember NOM 199 ?), the Tequila or Mezcal Regulatory Councils see fit to do so.

The Denominations of Origin in Mexico have failed small agave spirits producers.  The fact that the US has randomly recognized only a few of these DOs, doesn’t help, either.

–Our sources point out that the Sotol Regulatory Council is not as well financed as the other two major councils.  Their efforts to police and protect its DO are hindered by disorganization and (shocker, here), corruption.

Those sotol producers with pedigree find this fact a source of frustration and disappointment.

–In Sotol’s defense, the original petition for its Denomination of Origin clearly states the archaeological and historical evidence of its existence south of the border, as well as north of it.

The indigenous people who inhabited what is now considered the Borderlands, have a centuries old cultural tie to the sereque (sotol) plant.  Its everyday uses were discovered and exclusively utilized by them.

–The oldest permit to distill sotol commercially on both sides of the border belongs to the famed Jacquez family of Janos, Chihuahua, makers of the Don Cuco and Por Siempre brands.

–And, yes, sotol has been smuggled into the US since before Prohibition.

Probably, the most famous of these smugglers was Pancho Villa, who at one time maintained a “stash house” in El Paso, Texas.

Ironically, he was a teetotaler.   He did, however, partake of sotol for medicinal purposes.  After all, he was born in the Mexican state of Durango, part of the Sotol Denomination of Origin.

Sotol Smugglers’ Blues

Lastly, we salute the partners of Desert Door and their well funded efforts.  Texas has a long entrepreneurial history of Empresarios.

What it does not have is a history of distilling this particular spirit as part of its culture in order to support whole families and communities.  This, in fact, is what Appellations of Origin were designed for.

As Sarah Bowen , a member of our Women In The Tequila Industry gallery discussed in this Facebook thread–

…what is really needed is a more rigorous and thoughtful legal system that recognizes DOs across borders.

Failure to do so could result in a reverse effect for Bourbon Whiskey, Tennessee Whiskey, and Canadian Whiskey within its own borders.

Tit for Tat

The obvious question is–

Why doesn’t Mexico just make their own version of Whiskey and call it Bourbon?

As Ricardo Pico of Sotol Clande so eloquently put it in his response to this Facebook thread…

“…out of respect for an existing category and because we don’t have a tradition or heritage…on Bourbon production.”

Open Doors

Showing respect–a true Texas tradition–especially for an existing spirits category, was successfully accomplished by Genuis Liquids.

Perhaps, someday, like the Karakasevic family when they produced their Charbay Tequila at the renowned La Altena distillery with the blessing of Tapatio’s Carlos Camarena, someone on this side of the border will distill a true sotol at a proper vinata (sotol distillery) on the other side?

It could–and should–happen.

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!

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57qNow that the first quarter of 2017 is in the books and we are well into spring and summer margarita season, here’s what were noticing at Tequila Aficionado Media Headquarters.

The Hits Just Keep on Coming!

As we pointed out in The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thought, we are smack in the middle of a shortage with no end in sight.

Yet, here at HQ, since January 2017, we’ve solicited, and been solicited by, no less than 50 brands of tequila, mezcal and sotol for our widely viewed Sipping Off the Cuff© series.

Some are labels that have been around for awhile, or re-launched with extended expressions to their core lines, and presumably, flush with cash from investors (we’ll circle back to this subject a bit later).

But, most are start ups in the agave spirits arena.

At press time, agave prices have skyrocketed from 1.7 Mexican pesos ($0.089) per kilo in 2013 to 10 pesos at the end of 2016, according to this recent article in Barron’s.

Our own sources claim that agave prices in May 2017 have hit a high of 14 pesos per kilo.  During the crisis of the late 1990s, agave prices reached an unprecedented 18 pesos per kilo!Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

The price hike has even taken a bite out of Jose Cuervo’s profits.  They more than made up for it, though, with their successful IPO this past February.

You may ask, “Don’t these new brands know we’re in the midst of another agave crisis?”

Bear in mind that many of these labels have been in the works for at least 3 years or more, well before a shortage was predicted, and well before this happened…

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

The timing of an agave spirit’s launch is, more often than not, dependent on its financial forecasts.

If you’re one of these newcomers, just take a deep breath and jump in.

Don’t forget to send us samples, too!

The Resurgence of the Reposado

I once asked Christopher Zarus, the innovator of the world’s only take home tequila tasting kit, TequilaRack®, why he chose to showcase only small batch, micro-distilled reposados from esteemed tequila making families in his collections.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

He explained that a well made reposado was one of the most difficult tasks in creating a dynamic line of tequilas.  He felt that it could literally make or break a brand.

When rocker Roger Clyne first entered the market with Mexican Moonshine tequila, he insisted on doing so with a reposado, even though he admitted, “…at the time, this was considered commercial suicide.”

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

Traditionally acknowledged as the ideal half-way point between a brilliant blanco and an elegant anejo, the reposado, for at least the past few years, seemed to have been treated by some brands as an afterthought, at best.

Not so in 2017.

Check out the reposado episodes of this season’s Sipping Off The Cuff© to see what we mean.

Especially take note of:  Tequila 512, 4 Copas, Azunia, Amorada, Armero, El Consuelo, Pasote, Alderete and Don Pilar.

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

Infused tequila is the new black.

But not just any infusions.

These are well crafted tequilas or agave spirits, sometimes laced with exotic spices, and simmering in off-the-charts heat from the Scoville scale.
Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

We first encountered this trend with 2016’s lively Brand Of Promise© Infused Tequila winner, Soltado.  A versatile and balanced anejo injected with Serrano peppers and cinnamon, it blew taste buds away.

With the popularity of pepper infused spirits like Fireball Whisky, and subsequent copycats, it seems only natural that agave spirits companies take notice.

Of the upcoming crop of pepper saturated agave is…

Spider Monkey Agave Spirit (Serrano pepper and ginger); Get Hot Tequila, a reposado imbued with Habanero peppers; and, speaking of Fireball, the man responsible for its immense popularity, Richard Alexander Pomes, presents Ghost Tequila, enlivened by the infamous, India-born ghost pepper.

Just remember that when you’re basking in the endorphins from having your salsa and drinking it, too, that the addition of alcohol on your tongue reactivates the oils inherent in the pepper’s capsaicin.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

It’s like Groundhog Day for your palate!

Millennials are Stealing Your Cocktail Recipes

Cocktail recipe photos are hugely popular on just about any social media platform that they are shared on.  The follower engagement is off the chain, in particular with Millennials.

It’s a well known fact that the prevailing cocktail culture around the world is driving the Spirits Industry.  But, once these concoctions and their ingredients are made public, they are being pilfered by these young people and served to friends and family at their cribs.

It’s apparent that Millennials seek to drink better than their older relatives.  Given that, signature cocktails are still a valuable commodity to agave spirits brands, but not necessarily for bars and restaurants.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

So, you mixologists—carry on.

Millennials are stealing your cocktail recipes!

Tequila has Outgrown Riedel Glassware

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57qIt’s official…

Tequila–and most all agave spirits, for that matter–has outgrown the Riedel Ouverture tequila tasting glass.

Don’t get us wrong.  It’s still a viable tool.  But…

The level of quality craft agave spirits flooding liquor store shelves, and the emphasis on single estate and organic tequilas and mezcals, now demands a better sipping glass in order to enjoy their unique, regional properties.

This fact had not been lost to oak heads.

For several years, whisky and scotch drinkers had opted to use the Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57qGlencairn glasses to not only enjoy anejos and extra anejos, but blancos and reposados, as well.

It can also be argued that the use of inadequate tasting and nosing glasses in the past few years has influenced–and possibly skewed–the results for valuable medals awarded by some of the most respected tasting competitions around the country.  So much so, that the judges’ final decisions are laughable.

To that end, we’re excited to be working with Romeo Hristov, proprietor of Chisholm Trail Craft Glassware, testing glasses produced by Stolzle, Luigi Bormioli, and his own more historically accurate vessel prototypes for tequila and mezcal.

You’ll be seeing a lot of these new glasses throughout the 2017 season of Sipping Off The Cuff©.

Watch for a future Open Bar where we’ll visit with Mr. Hristov, in depth.

Tequila Brands:  It’s a Buyer’s Market Out There

Earlier, we hinted about some dormant tequila brands that have suddenly been revived by wads of money.

It seems that every other day, family-run investment firms contact us at HQ looking for hot tips on where to park their cash that’s burning holes into their conservative, yet very deep, pockets.

We were also recently offered a fee by a well known celebrity to taste test the newest version of his tequila, versus the Usual Suspects.  We gracefully declined.

But it got us thinking.  Whether you’re a megastar or a moneybags…

Why go through all the trouble of launching, or relaunching, a tequila from scratch when there are so many labels out there for sale?

As predicted by Patrón tequila’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lee Applbaum in this  article, the Great Agave Shakeout has begun.

The road to Tequila Nirvana is currently littered with brands that could not sustain the required 5 year threshold of longevity, let alone a 10 year marketing plan.

Many have withered away consumed by mismanagement, overwhelm, lack of distribution support, or simply investment underestimation.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

Instead of going through all the trouble of conceptualizing and heavily funding a whole new agave spirits marque with a least a dozen other investors, why not take a page from Jim Driscoll, owner of Ekeko Wines and Spirits, and importer of Demetrio tequila?

Seek a distressed brand that had something going for it, and that you can make better.

You may find, after some thorough due diligence, that before hitting the skids the brand showed considerable promise and can be purchased—lock, stock, and barrels—for a song.

Or, you may discover that the concept for the juice was designed exclusively for the international Duty Free market, completely escaping the drudgery of the Three Tier System.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

The road to the Kingdom of Agave Heaven won’t be any easier, but at least some of the requisite start up costs could be minimized.

Warning:  The Quality of Your Mass Produced Tequila is about to get Worse

Word on the streets of the Highlands of Jalisco is that the Big Boys have bought up all the 3 year old agave in the region.  Younger plants simply do not contain the minimum amount of agave sugars (measured in brix) required by the normas to make tequila.

As soon as 2 year old agaves turn 3, they are sure to be snatched up by coyotes (agave middlemen).

Coyotes for the Usual Suspects are desperately seeking magueys from reputable growers who are now sitting in the catbird seat, ready to hike agave prices even further.

Those boutique agaveros who are holding 4 and 5 year old plants are poised to make a killing in the agave market in the following few months and years.

Meanwhile, back at The Lab…

Analyzed samples of these mass produced tequilas are being rejected because they reportedly contain too little alcohol from blue weber agave, and too much from added sugars.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

Watch for increased use of diffuser technology to extract maximum agave juices and sugars in order to fulfill worldwide demand, and—

Tequila quality to plummet.

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 Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas

The Bing Crosby Effect

How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50U

Influencer Marketing is a hot social media buzz phrase that can be directly attributed to Bing Crosby.

From the moment the famed crooner, and fellow entertainer and business partner, Phil Harris, imported Herradura, the first 100% agave tequila into the US, celebrity endorsements of alcoholic beverages have influenced American’s buying habits–

And, become an all too common occurrence.

This article traces the history of influencer marketing, from the early days of cinema to a new kind of social media personality, the influencer.

I Wanna be Like Mike

How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50U

Continuing that tradition, celebs like Diddy (DeLeon), George Clooney (Casamigos), Sammy Hagar (Cabo Wabo, and now, Mezquila), and Justin Timberlake (Sauza 901) are just a few of the A-listers peddling agave spirits.

It can be argued that desire for a megastar endorsed item is fueled by our emotional attachment to the star himself.

Hence, the more we care about a renowned personality, the more we “want to be like Mike.”

Celebrity Covetousness

Noel Shu is Chief Luxury Officer and Head Sommelier at Prodiguer Brands, Ltd.  The “Prince of Luxury,” and the man responsible for the most expensive champagne in the world, (Goût de Diamants) explains here why celebrity affiliation works for luxury items.

“No matter what, the rest of the world is keeping tabs on the rich and famous.  In order to be more like them, many go out of their way to get what celebrities have,” asserts Shu.

“Beneath the pretense of glam, money and prestige, a purchase boils down to one thing: familiarity.  It is mental association at work.”

Shu determines, “When a person is constantly reminded that their favorite actor is wearing or using a product, they begin gravitating towards the item themselves.”

The danger in promoting celebrity covetousness in agave spirits brand marketing is that it’s shallow, superficial, and unmemorable.

The emotional bond between your label and your customer, like a sample from a tequila girl in a black mini-skirt, is fleeting, at best.

Intimacy Can be Measured

On the flip side, a very enlightening website reveals a brand’s intimacy quotient.How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50U

MBLM states that “brand intimacy is a new paradigm that leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.”

Before I get to how this new level of marketing relates to agave spirits branding, let me point out a couple of Tequila Market growth facts, courtesy of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).

Who Cares About Luxury?

According to DISCUS, the fastest growth in 2016 has been in High End and Super Premium brands.

Virtually a non-existent segment before 2002, volumes of Super Premium tequilas have zoomed 706% to 2.9 million cases.

Intimacy by the Numbers

Taking a look at the Beverages category as a whole on the MBLM site, we discover that its intimacy quotient falls almost 4 points below the cross industry average.

Most notably, though, the Luxury division practically brings up the rear, a full 13 points below the industry median!

How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50U

The numbers for Mexico are even more eye-opening (Abreojos?) with both Jose Cuervo and Herradura (Brown-Forman) at the bottom of the Top 10 Mexican Beverage labels of 2017.

Of the last two tequila marks, only Jose Cuervo is still Mexican owned.

Power to the People

“Brands are in the hands of consumers today,” says MBLM.

A true statement since, chances are, you’re reading this on your preferred handheld device.

MBLM goes on to preach,”…people trust one another more than they trust a corporation.”

We’ve heard it said that word-of-mouth—especially in social media–is everything.  (Just ask United Airlines!)

MBLM continues, “…brands are proliferating, saturating our attention, increasing confusion, and often cannibalizing each other.”

How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50U

That’s certainly an honest view of the spirits industry.

A simple walk through your neighborhood liquor store’s tequila aisle will more than convince any skeptic of that assessment.

Given the above information on this new form of “emotional marketing,” it raises the question—

What’s the point of describing your agave spirit as a “luxury” or “lifestyle” brand?

Fearless Prediction

How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50UWith the trend toward attracting Millennials, and their demand for quality, transparency and affordability in the wines and spirits they seek, the growth of the High End and Super Premium segments seem destined to falter.

Celebrity worship and their endorsement of products, however, will continue to be a part of the daily fabric of every social media platform.

As Shu points out in the above article, “No matter how much fanfare or glitz a product gets from being in the limelight, it’s the opinion of experts and influencers on the product itself that keeps it there.”

Luxury items are only attractive when in use by someone we care about or admire, famous or not.

Agave Attachment

How can start up agave spirits entrepreneurs create lasting emotional bonds between their products and their customers?

By telling their brand stories clearly, consistently, and emotionally in a creative and engaging manner across all mediums.

In addition, instead of trying to interest megastars to front your tequila or mezcal, decide to become your own best Agave Ambassador.

Bo Knows

How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50U

The new breed of agave spirits brand owners must not be afraid to stand in front of their own juice to preach their message to the masses.

The Founding Fathers of the Tequila Industry knew the value of forging personal relationships with not just their business associates, but with everyone.

In the tradition of old skool tequileros, luminaries like Guillermo Erickson Sauza, Carlos Camarena, German Gonzalez, David Suro, Sophie Decobecq, Ken Austin, Dr. Adolfo Murillo, Tomas Estes and many others, have not only produced some of the most beloved tequilas, but have fearlessly chosen to be their own qualified spokespersons.

There’s No Crying in Tequila!

How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50U

Agave spirits inherently embody the passion and history of Mexico.  If luxury items are cold and unfeeling, then, agave spirits are the complete opposite.

An agave spirit without a representative, however, is like a band without a front man; like a basketball team without a point guard; like a country without a leader.

No amount of marketing spin can improve a label’s lifeless approval rating, or a vote of no-confidence from customers.

Tequila:  Con Ganas!

“Advancements in neuroscience reveal that virtually all decision making is emotional,” declares MBLM.  “Behavioral science demonstrates that the way we feel about a brand is the single best predictor of purchase.”

MBLM concludes, “up to 90% of the decisions we make are based on emotion.”

How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50U

So, if you decide to be the ultimate emotional mouthpiece for your agave spirit, the bottom line is…

Echale ganas!

 

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!

New Tequila Aficionado Podcast

Tequila Aficionado Podcast http://www.blogtalkradio.com/tequilaaficionadoTake Your Tequila (Podcast) With You

Just as you realize we aren’t sitting around all day drinking tequila (no, really, we aren’t), we realize you’re on the go too and that means you want to take your Tequila Aficionado Media with you.  That’s why we’re bringing back the podcast!

We’ve been knocking ourselves out over the past few years to take things up a notch and make Tequila Aficionado content more valuable to you and available on all platforms.

Tequila Aficionado Podcast http://www.blogtalkradio.com/tequilaaficionadoThe Podcast is Back!

Tequila Aficionado Podcast http://www.blogtalkradio.com/tequilaaficionadoTequila Aficionado began as a podcast back in 1999 and then we moved to the Vodpod video platform.  In the past three years, we’ve taken it to YouTube, YouTube Red, the Maker Studios Channel, and Blab.

Old School Podcast

Tequila Aficionado Podcast http://www.blogtalkradio.com/tequilaaficionadoNow we’re taking it back to old school tech and we’ll be bringing you the complete library (471 so far) of Tequila Aficionado audio and video via podcast through syndication on Blog Talk Radio and iTunes.
Look for more podcasts coming daily!

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!!