Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation

[Transportation, room and board were provided to M.A. “Mike” Morales by Embajador Tequila in order to research this article.  No monetary compensation was received and no guarantee of a favorable article was given by M.A. ‘Mike” Morales or Tequila Aficionado Media.  This article was written by, and is the opinion of, M.A. “Mike” Morales.]

The Situation

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZSince that morning in early April when a news report in the Chinese press first announced that the Embajador distillery (NOM 1509) had been cited by COFEPRIS (Comisión Federál para la Protección contra Reisgos Sanitarios) and SAT (Servicio de Admistración Tributaria), and shut down for various minor infractions, I’d been anxious to investigate their situation, in-depth.

Without a single citation in over 12 years, multiple improvements in the works to compete effectively in Asia and Russia, and kosher certification, it made no sense to endanger their forward movement and future plans by being seemingly underhanded and distilling tainted juice.

This family-owned distillery has a stellar reputation for producing such Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZexquisite fan favorites like Alma de Agave, Crótalo, Cabresto, along with its highly decorated flagship brand, Embajador.

Things Don’t Add Up

As I expressed in my editorial, Bullying In Tequila, I believed this was clearly a case of government agencies bullying an up-and-coming player poised to enter the burgeoning Chinese and Russian spirits markets, and known to Tequila Industry insiders as a formidable force firmly positioned in the private label sector.

When Andres Garcia, Regional Sales Manager for Embajador Tequila, called to invite me to inspect the day-to-day operations of the Fabrica Santa Rosa, I found their willingness to be transparent refreshing, especially in the wake of such damaging charges.

The “Violations”

Let’s get right down to brass tacks.

According to the initial Chinese report–

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ

New log book and safety signs.

“Mexican health authorities seized over one million liters of tequila on Friday, which belongs to a production company in flagrant breach of health norms.

“All production of tequila was immediately suspended after the investigation found “sanitary conditions far below standards for production, as well as an inability to trace supplies and a lack of legal documentation.”

“The security included seizing 980,399 liters of tequila in tanks or unmarked bottles, 34,677 liters of finished products in labelled boxes mainly from the El Embajador and El General brands, and around 55,000 liters at various stages of the production process.”

In this news release from Mexico

“The second largest seizure of alcohol in three years is carried out.”

“It concerns the second largest securing of illegal inebriating beverages….  In this operation, 1.70MM liters of irregular alcoholic beverages were seized….”

(“Realizan el segundo decomiso más grande de alcohol en tres años 

“Se trata del segundo aseguaramiento de bebidas embriagantes ilegales mas grande….En esta acción…se aseguararon 1.70MM litros de bebidas alcoholicas irregulares…”)

In this incendiary report from El Financiero

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ

New delineation of departments.

“Federal authorities confiscated one million 70 thousand liters of tequila outside the normas in the locality of Atotonilco el Alto, and it concerns the largest securing of irregular alcoholic beverages.

(“Autoridades federales incautaron un millón 70 mil litros de tequila fuera de norma, en la localidad de Atotonilco el Alto, y se trata del aseguramiento más grande de bebidas alcohólicas irregulares.)

[Aforementioned federal authorities] imposed seals of closure and immobilized the product and installations of Tequila Embajador, where work and services were suspended due to deficient sanitary conditions in the production process, lack of traceability of supplies and scarcity of legal documentation.”

(“…impusieron sellos de clausura e inmovilizaron el producto e instalaciones de la empresa Tequila Embajador, donde se suspendieron sus trabajos y servicios por deficientes condiciones sanitarias en procesos de producción, falta de trazabilidad de insumos y carencia de documentación legal.”)

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ

New department signs.

“Security measures applied included the seizure of 980,399 liters of product in bulk inside storage tanks and bottled without labels; 34,676.7 liters of finished product in cases and labeled primarily of the brands El Embajador and El General; as well as 55,000 estimated liters of product in various stages of production, chopped, shredded, fermented and distilled.”

(“Las medidas de seguridad aplicadas, incluyeron el aseguramiento de: 980 mil 399 litros de producto a granel dispuesto en tanques y en botellas sin etiqueta, 34 mil 676.7 litros de producto terminado en cajas y etiquetado principalmente de las marcas El Embajador y El General, así como 55 mil litros estimados de producto en proceso, troceado, molienda, fermentación y destilación.”)

“Sanitary irregularities were also detected such as tanks without protection,

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ

Protection and delineation.

[and] accumulated dirt and grime.  Additionally, there were no physical separations between the fermentation and distillation areas from the rest of the spaces of the distillery.”

(“También se detectaron irregularidades sanitarias, como tanques sin protección, y acumulación de suciedad; además que no había una separación física entre las áreas de fermentación y destilación del resto de los espacios de la empresa.”)

“In addition, there were flies present in the fermentation and distillation zones due to a lack of pest control, evident lack of order and cleanliness and there were no log books registering the carrying out of cleaning and maintenance of equipment.”

(“Además, se detectó la presencia de moscos en zonas de fermentación y destilado, debido al deficiente control de plagas, evidente falta de orden y limpieza en las instalaciones y no se contaba con bitácoras de limpieza actualizadas ni registro de mantenimiento de equipos.”)

And, from this blatant smear campaign–

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ

More coverage and delineation.

“Any person who would want to consume any of the brands of tequilas involved should know that these products were elaborated under dubious sanitary conditions.  For instance, the inspectors found a platform over the reception tanks and one over the fermentation tanks that did not have any protection.

Moreover, there were gutters without protection with an accumulation of grime, evidence of consumed foods in the processing areas and lack of cleanliness in the fermentation area with the presence of non-useful materials including a motorcycle.”

(“Cualquier persona que guste consumir alguna de las marcas de los tequilas involucrados, debe saber que estos productos fueron elaborados en condiciones sanitarias muy dudosas; por ejemplo, los inspectores encontraron una plataforma sobre las tinas de recepción de jugo y uno de los tanques de fermentación, las cuales no tienen protección; además, se encontraron canaletas sin protección y con acumulación de suciedad, evidencia de consumo de alimentos en las áreas de proceso y falta de limpieza en el área de fermentación, con presencia de materiales en desuso, incluyendo una motocicleta.”)

“Also, an open bag was identified with detergent and a bottle containing liquid with the smell of disinfectant over the barrels.  There was lack of maintenance of the walls and a presence of clearings, windows without protection [screens] in different areas.  The distillery had no physical separation between the

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ

Barrels naturally protect against…birds.

fermentation and distillation areas from the rest of the spaces.  It also had no identification and delineation of the areas such that packing material, products, chemicals and bottles were found in the same place.”

(“También identificaron la presencia de una bolsa abierta con detergente y un envase conteniendo un líquido con olor a desinfectante sobre las barricas; hay falta de mantenimiento en paredes y presencia de claros, ventanas sin protección en diferentes áreas; la empresa no cuenta con una separación física entre las áreas de fermentación y destilación del resto de los espacios del lugar, ni tiene identificación y delimitación de áreas, de tal forma que el material de empaque, productos químicos y envases se encontraban en un mismo sitio.”)

And finally, a simple English translation from the original press release by COFEPRIS and SAT by trade magazine, The Spirits Business.

The Rest of The Story

What all these news services failed to mention was that each of the above infractions, except one, was addressed within a couple of hours.

So, why was the lifting of the closure of Fabrica Santa Rosa distillery not met with equal timeliness by these government agencies?

Why allow the escalation of a situation that normally requires only a warning, and malign a distillery’s spotless reputation?

Why did it take almost 90 days to rectify the situation and to restore the Embajador family’s impeccable integrity within the industry?

Two reasons–

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ

COFEPRIS’ and SAT’s ongoing three year campaign (some call it a smoke screen or a witch hunt) called “Juntos Contra la Ilegalidad” (“Together Against Illegality”), to reduce illegally produced alcoholic beverages on the Mexican market, and…

Paperwork.

***

Click for Part 2, Embajador Tequila:  Business As Usual.

 

Sipping Off The Cuff | Zevada Family Gran Reserva

Mike & Alex taste and discuss Zevada Family Gran Reserva

The Z stands for Pepe Zevada

After 35 years travelling the world as an executive in the spirits industry, Pepe Zevada retired to Austin, Texas. However, it did not take him long to get back in the game and he quickly launched Z Tequila. His Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo tequilas have received awards and critical acclaim and are well-loved throughout Texas. Z Tequila’s value is as remarkable as its quality, because Pepe believes luxury shouldn’t be so hard to come by.

He stands for quality

Pepe Zevada Z Tequila is based in Austin, Texas and produced in the Highlands of Jalisco, where tequila originated. It is made with 100% Natural Highland Agave which is cooked in ecologically designed vertical pressure cookers that utilize gravity to extract only the aguamiel, the sweet honey of the agave. The left over parts of the agave are dried and used as fuel to heat the ovens and copper stills used to create Z Tequila. Pepe’s Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo tequilas are aged in lightly charred American Oak barrels. Pepe Zevada Z Tequila is 80 proof.

Find Pepe Z online here.

Sipping Off The Cuff | Pepe Zevada "Z" Tequila Blanco http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lZ

Sipping Off The Cuff

Sipping Off The Cuff™ began as an audio podcast in 2006 and is Tequila Aficionado’s first and longest running tequila review program.

Sipping Off The Cuff(TM) is broadcast every Friday (and occasionally Tuesdays) on YouTube and TequilaAficionado.com. If you are a Tequila, Mezcal or Sotol brand owner and would like your product(s) reviewed on an upcoming episode of Sipping Off The Cuff(TM), please contact Mike@TequilaAficionado.com.

Sipping Off The Cuff | Pepe Zevada “Z” Tequila Anejo

Mike & Alex taste and discuss Pepe Zevada “Z” Tequila Anejo

The Z stands for Pepe Zevada

After 35 years travelling the world as an executive in the spirits industry, Pepe Zevada retired to Austin, Texas. However, it did not take him long to get back in the game and he quickly launched Z Tequila. His Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo tequilas have received awards and critical acclaim and are well-loved throughout Texas. Z Tequila’s value is as remarkable as its quality, because Pepe believes luxury shouldn’t be so hard to come by.

He stands for quality

Pepe Zevada Z Tequila is based in Austin, Texas and produced in the Highlands of Jalisco, where tequila originated. It is made with 100% Natural Highland Agave which is cooked in ecologically designed vertical pressure cookers that utilize gravity to extract only the aguamiel, the sweet honey of the agave. The left over parts of the agave are dried and used as fuel to heat the ovens and copper stills used to create Z Tequila. Pepe’s Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo tequilas are aged in lightly charred American Oak barrels. Pepe Zevada Z Tequila is 80 proof.

Find Pepe Z online here.

Sipping Off The Cuff | Pepe Zevada "Z" Tequila Blanco http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lZ

Sipping Off The Cuff

Sipping Off The Cuff™ began as an audio podcast in 2006 and is Tequila Aficionado’s first and longest running tequila review program.

Sipping Off The Cuff(TM) is broadcast every Friday (and occasionally Tuesdays) on YouTube and TequilaAficionado.com. If you are a Tequila, Mezcal or Sotol brand owner and would like your product(s) reviewed on an upcoming episode of Sipping Off The Cuff(TM), please contact Mike@TequilaAficionado.com.

Sipping Off The Cuff | Pepe Zevada “Z” Tequila Reposado

Mike & Alex taste and discuss Pepe Zevada “Z” Tequila Reposado

The Z stands for Pepe Zevada

After 35 years travelling the world as an executive in the spirits industry, Pepe Zevada retired to Austin, Texas. However, it did not take him long to get back in the game and he quickly launched Z Tequila. His Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo tequilas have received awards and critical acclaim and are well-loved throughout Texas. Z Tequila’s value is as remarkable as its quality, because Pepe believes luxury shouldn’t be so hard to come by.

He stands for quality

Pepe Zevada Z Tequila is based in Austin, Texas and produced in the Highlands of Jalisco, where tequila originated. It is made with 100% Natural Highland Agave which is cooked in ecologically designed vertical pressure cookers that utilize gravity to extract only the aguamiel, the sweet honey of the agave. The left over parts of the agave are dried and used as fuel to heat the ovens and copper stills used to create Z Tequila. Pepe’s Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo tequilas are aged in lightly charred American Oak barrels. Pepe Zevada Z Tequila is 80 proof.

Find Pepe Z online here.

Sipping Off The Cuff | Pepe Zevada "Z" Tequila Blanco http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lZ

Sipping Off The Cuff

Sipping Off The Cuff™ began as an audio podcast in 2006 and is Tequila Aficionado’s first and longest running tequila review program.

Sipping Off The Cuff(TM) is broadcast every Friday (and occasionally Tuesdays) on YouTube and TequilaAficionado.com. If you are a Tequila, Mezcal or Sotol brand owner and would like your product(s) reviewed on an upcoming episode of Sipping Off The Cuff(TM), please contact Mike@TequilaAficionado.com.

Sipping Off The Cuff | Pepe Zevada “Z” Tequila Blanco

 Mike & Alex taste and discuss Pepe Z Tequila Blanco

The Z stands for Pepe Zevada

After 35 years travelling the world as an executive in the spirits industry, Pepe Zevada retired to Austin, Texas. However, it did not take him long to get back in the game and he quickly launched Z Tequila. His Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo tequilas have received awards and critical acclaim and are well-loved throughout Texas. Z Tequila’s value is as remarkable as its quality, because Pepe believes luxury shouldn’t be so hard to come by.

He stands for quality

Pepe Zevada Z Tequila is based in Austin, Texas and produced in the Highlands of Jalisco, where tequila originated. It is made with 100% Natural Highland Agave which is cooked in ecologically designed vertical pressure cookers that utilize gravity to extract only the aguamiel, the sweet honey of the agave. The left over parts of the agave are dried and used as fuel to heat the ovens and copper stills used to create Z Tequila. Pepe’s Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo tequilas are aged in lightly charred American Oak barrels. Pepe Zevada Z Tequila is 80 proof.

Find Pepe Z online here.

Sipping Off The Cuff | Pepe Zevada "Z" Tequila Blanco http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lZ

Sipping Off The Cuff

Sipping Off The Cuff™ began as an audio podcast in 2006 and is Tequila Aficionado’s first and longest running tequila review program.

Sipping Off The Cuff(TM) is broadcast every Friday (and occasionally Tuesdays) on YouTube and TequilaAficionado.com. If you are a Tequila, Mezcal or Sotol brand owner and would like your product(s) reviewed on an upcoming episode of Sipping Off The Cuff(TM), please contact Mike@TequilaAficionado.com.

Special Feature: Riedel Glassware Care

Special Feature: Riedel Glassware Care http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lKRiedel glassware care for tequila aficionados, courtesy of Rick Thibault Levy and M.A. “Mike” Morales.

 

We’re all about using fine glassware to enjoy our tequilas to the fullest but washing Riedel glasses after a tasting can have you not-so-happily singing 99 Riedel glasses on the wall and counting down as the delicate buggers shatter when you’re trying to remove towel lint from the inside of the glass or work out a water spot.  Rick Levy has the solution and Mike Morales now sleeps better at night knowing it!  Use a chamois! 

Riedel Ouverture Glass

Shaped for extracting full enjoyment when sipping tequila, the four glasses in this set have narrow bowls on long, slender, stylish stems. Part of the moderately priced Ouverture series offered by world-renowned Austrian glassmaker Riedel Crystal (founded in 1756), they’re lead-free. That means they’re not crystal like Riedel’s premium glasses but are machine blown of potash glass and are dishwasher-safe. Their thin rims are cut and polished to Riedel’s exacting standards, so tequila flows easily onto the tongue and flavor is enhanced. Each glass holds 6-3/4 ounces and stands 8-1/4 inches high

The Top 20 Craft Tequilas You’ve Overlooked

USA_Today_comIn early August of 2016, I received an email from USA Today asking me to weigh in on their craft spirits-themed Readers’ Choice contests, and in our case (at press time), the soon-to-be-launched craft tequilas list.

I’ll be honest, I dread these lists.  What’s worse is, I dread being asked to participate in compiling them.

Let me tell you why.

It’s A List

In the Digital Age, everyone wants things in bite sized form and they want it now.  It is also proven that numbered lists draw attention.  And, there are so many of them out there on the Interwebs–

Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover…

The 10 Best Ways to Cheat On Your Mate…

Six Ways Your Cat Plots to Kill You…

A Word About Your Sins

Ever wonder why those numbered titles are so enticing?7-deadly-sins

It’s because they are aimed at the 7 Deadly Sins.

A steadfast rule of copywriters is to compose content that elicits an emotional response from readers to take action.

To drive your particular sin even further to cause you to read the content, the word YOU is hammered into every title.

[Editor’s note:  See what I did with my title?  You choose which sin fits best for YOU.]

Craft Is A Buzzword

As we thoroughly examined in our reports, Craft Tequila:  WTF Does That Mean? Parts 1 and 2, the term craft has been kidnapped by marketers writing fancy copy to confuse the consumer.

Only 10?

gato sorprendido

While the instructions in the email required at least 20 selections from me, the contest will butcher the selections down to only 10–

Selected by those who are unaware of what a craft tequila really is, and…

Curated by someone whose job it is to find ways to engage USA Today’s readers.

It’s A Contest

check-list-red-wfjgrkbmmkvlWhen our COO, Lisa Pietsch, examined the contest website and the myriad of other pre-existing lists, she found that this is a clever way for USA Today to increase reader engagement.

Reader engagement translates to readers’ time spent on USA Today’s mammoth website, which in turn translates to money they charge advertisers.

The term we use is “sticky” as in spider’s web sticky.

Which leads me to–

Paid Advertisers 

Having been paid to ghost write Editor’s Choice lists in the past, I am fully aware that many times, spirits sponsors of major magazines and websites tend to sneak onto them.

This, despite my vehement objections to the editors that such a move invalidates the list altogether.

So, before any of the Usual Suspects wind up on USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards Craft Tequilas list, here are my selections.  Bear in mind, I was limited to only twenty brands.

The Top 20 Craft Tequilas You’ve Overlooked

In no particular order…

  1. Fortaleza
  2. T1 Tequila Uno
  3. Tears of Llorana
  4. Suerte
  5. Siembra Azul
  6. Siembra Valles
  7. Tapatio
  8. Tequila G4
  9. ArteNOM 1414
  10. ArteNOM 1580
  11. ArteNOM 1146
  12. ArteNOM 1549
  13. Trianon
  14. Pasote
  15. Embajador
  16. Alquimia
  17. DesMaDre
  18. Dulce Vida
  19. Don Fulano
  20. IXA

The Fallout

12995-anxiety_news

Whether any of my selections make the cut, remains to be seen.

Depending on who the other “tequila experts” were that contributed to the final list to be voted on, the results, if nothing else, should be interesting.

One thing is for certain–

Not everyone will be happy.

Tequila Aficionado Geek Squad – ArteNom 1580

Rick Thibault Levy and M.A. “Mike” Morales discuss the various “vintages” of tequilas and the small batch tequila brands that make them so popular.

Reading tequila labels can be a fascinating education in and of itself!

Find out more about craft tequilas and the various methods being used to create unique vintages and bottles that every tequila aficionado wants to find in a dusty corner of their local liquor store.

CRAFT TEQUILA: WTF DOES THAT MEAN?

Seleccion ArteNOM | Don Lorenzo | Tequila Ocho | Fortaleza

Open Bar with Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine

Open Bar with Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4kgJoin us on Open Bar with our special guests, the organizers of The Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine Event.

About the Event

The Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine (MBTC) is a tribute to the rich and colorful history of tequila and agave based spirits to celebrate and positively influence its present and future cultural, social and economic significance. Join us for the 7th annual MBTC at the Hyatt Regency Hotel & Spa – Saturday, October 8, 2016 Sip. Savor. Salud!

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The Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine event combines agave, art, an auction, brand ambassadors, chefs, cuisine, culture, elegance, enthusiasts, mariachi, after-party social y mas!

The seventh annual MBTC takes place Saturday, October 8, 2016 on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula.

EVENT TIMELINE:

Friday, October 2016

Agave Awards and Sponsor Dinner (Invitation Only & VIP All Access)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Early entry for VIPs

4:00 p.m.  – Agave presentation – special guest speaker to be announced soon (for VIP ticket holders)

5:00 p.m. – Doors open to the general public

5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. – Main tasting | Hors d’oeuvres | Entertainment

Following Main tasting – After Party Social – the fiesta continues!

Please note: cocktail attire is highly recommended. No flip flops or hats allowed. 

Would you like to become a sponsor?  Click here.

Would you like to buy tickets? Click here.

Tequila Aficionado Heartland Tour – Mas Mexican Freetail Bats

Have you heard about the Tequila Aficionado Heartland Tour?

Every year, we take a little trip that allows us to create the sort of social media content that a studio and pro photographer just can’t create for you.  The content and posts we create for our sponsors is the sort of organic social content that millennials are looking for – not the uber-slick marketing that went out in the 90’s.  When you add a combined social reach of over half a million people seeing these posts, we know it’s a valuable marketing proposition for any brand that wants the most bang for its buck.

Here is a teaser of the sort of content we’ll be creating during the Heartland Tour:

 

Tequila Aficionado Heartland Tour - Mas Mexican Freetail Bats http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4jL

Our First Stop: Bracken Cave

Our first stop on the Heartland Tour (Beginning September 11, 2016) will be an overnight visit to Bracken Cave, summer home of more than 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats (the bats responsible for pollination, biodiversity, and plant health in Blue Weber Agave).  Bracken Cave is the world’s largest colony of bats and one of the largest concentrations of mammals on earth. We’ll be there to learn more about conservation efforts for these bats and witness their emergence, as they spiral out of the cave at dusk for their nightly insect hunt.

 

We’re firming up more details for this trip and will share them with you as we confirm each.

How Tequila Aficionado Tours Began

The Heartland Tour is our 3rd annual (the first tour began in 2014 when Larry Large of Del Bravo Spirits heard we were taking an RV trip and brought us a box of Diva, Route 66 and Penasco tequilas for the journey).  At least one Del Bravo brand has been on each of our tours and we are immensely grateful for that loyalty to the Tequila Aficionado brand. 

 

Current sponsors of the Tequila Aficionado Heartland Tour

Route 66 Tequila               Diva Tequila                           888 Tequila

Soltado Tequila                  Santo Diablo Mezcal           Seleccion ArteNOM

Don Amado Mezcal          Desmadre Tequila                Papa Bueno Tequila

One With Life Tequila     21 Tequila                                JLP Craft Margaritas

Revel Spirits                        Los Osuna Agave Spirit      Embajador Tequila

Pepe Z Tequila                    Siempre Tequila                    Malinalli Tequila

There’s still time to join us on this tour!

Would you like your brand to be involved in this tour?  Simply fill out the form below and we’ll make sure you’re in!

Tequila Aficionado Heartland Tour - Mas Mexican Freetail Bats http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4jL