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

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 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

Special Feature: Riedel Glassware Care

Special Feature: Riedel Glassware Care 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


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.


Seleccion ArteNOM | Don Lorenzo | Tequila Ocho | Fortaleza

Open Bar with Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine

Open Bar with Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine 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!


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.


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

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

National Tequila Day – The Struggle is Real

National Tequila Day - The Struggle is Real! Greetings! Salutations!

I’m Mike Morales of Tequila Aficionado Media. In the next few hours, maybe the next few days, depending on when you’re watching this video, we will be celebrating National Tequila Day (for those of you globally who follow us, it’s International Tequila Day).

It is very appropriate as we’ve been fighting this constant battle of sipping tequila versus shooting tequila.

I’m here to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, after 17 years with Tequila Aficionado (it seems like more), shooting tequila is dead.

It’s dead.

So today, on National Tequila Day, I want you all to come with me and claim your independence. Declare your independence on National Tequila Day/International Tequila Day that you will no longer shoot tequila.
You are going to enjoy slowly sipping fine tequila, fine agave spirits, fine mezcals, raicillas, bacanoras, whatever it is you’re drinking, you’re going to be sipping it. You will no longer shoot tequila.

Thank you for your support!

Remember the jimadores, remember the agave plant, remember the magueys, and remember to sip wisely.

National Tequila Day - The Struggle is Real! ¡ Saludos! Saludos!

Soy Mike Morales de Tequila Aficionado a los medios de comunicación. En las próximas horas, tal vez los próximos días, dependiendo de cuando estás viendo este video, vamos a celebrar día nacional del Tequila (para los que todo el mundo que siga con nosotros, es día internacional del Tequila).

Es muy apropiado como nosotros hemos estado luchando esta batalla constante de bebiendo tequila frente a disparos de tequila.

Estoy aquí para decirles, señoras y señores, después de 17 años con Tequila Aficionado (parece que más), tiro de tequila está muerto.

Está muerto.

Así que hoy, día nacional del Tequila, quiero que todos para venir conmigo a reclamar su independencia. Declarar su independencia en día nacional de Tequila día internacional Tequila que ya no va a tirar tequila.

Vas a disfrutar lentamente bebiendo tequila fino, fino agave licores, mezcales finos, raicillas, bacanoras, es está bebiendo, vas a estar tomando lo. Ya no va a tirar tequila.

Gracias por su apoyo!

Recuerde los jimadores, recuerda la planta de agave, recuerde los magueyes y recuerde tomar sabiamente.

National Tequila Day - The Struggle is Real

Open Bar with Texas Bar & Nightclub Alliance (TBNA)

tbnaTonight, our guest is Quincy Barnes, organizer of the Texas Bar and Nightclub Alliance Convention.

The Annual Convention for the Texas Bar & Nightclub Alliance (TBNA) will be held on August 7-8, 2016 in Austin, TX, at Brazos Hall.

TBNA is an alliance of Texas bar and nightclub owners protecting its members by providing a platform for all relevant political and legal information.

Bars and nightclubs comprise a major portion of revenue and employment in the state of Texas making them an important sector in the state’s economy.

Until now, there has never been an association that has provided a strong foothold in protecting the rights and interests of these businesses.

Connect with TBNA on Facebook

TBNA Vendor Application for 2016 with floor plan and cover sheet


Opportunity For All Brands of Promise Nominees!

Tour FAQs

Make the Most of Your Tour (Sponsor only content)

Heartland Images (Sponsor only content)


reach thousands

You are Cordially Invited

As you may have seen, Lisa and I created the 2015 Dia de Los Muertos Tour as a means of spreading the word about agave spirits brands and creating social media content that really excited our and our sponsors’ followers.

We are planning another tour this year, beginning September 10th, which we are styling as The Heartland Tour.  Our intention is to travel from Texas to the Great Lakes, spreading the gospel of agave along the way and exploring some beautiful sites for photo and video opportunities as well as pairing opportunities with native foods from America’s Heartland.

We learned so much from last year’s tour that we’re ready to hit the ground running with The Heartland Tour.  Following is the sponsor package we’re offering you this year:

Instagram photo(s)  (Valued at $20 each)
These will be tagged with your Instagram handle, hashtagged, and posted on Tequila Aficionado’s Instagram account and shared to the Tequila Aficionado Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr as well as Lisa Pietsch’s and Mike Morales’ Facebook and Twitter accounts.
A total reach of over 40,000 impressions.

Native Facebook Video(s)  (Valued at $100 each)
These will be tagged with your Facebook account, hashtagged, and posted on the Tequila Aficionado Facebook account, then shared on the Tequila Aficionado Twitter, and Lisa Pietsch’s and Mike Morales’ Facebook and Twitter profiles.
A reach of over 33,000 impressions.

YouTube Video(s)  (Valued at $100 each)
These will be posted to the Tequila Aficionado YouTube account, hashtagged, provided with a complete and SEO’d description, and shared on the Tequila Aficionado Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter accounts.
A reach of over 10,000 impressions.

Blog features on  (Valued at $150 each)
We will create an initial article about our upcoming adventure with you listed as a partner and a second article featuring your brand, any articles or reviews we’ve done of your brand, and links to all your social networks. These will be SEO’d, tagged, and alt tagged, posted to the Tequila Aficionado website, shared on the Tequila Aficionado Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+ accounts, and shared on Lisa Pietsch’s and Mike Morales’ Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts.
A reach of over 43,000 impressions.

Inclusion in our Tequila Aficionado Wiki  (Valued at $150 each)
The Tequila Aficionado Wiki provides you with a single stop to grab all of the website and social media posts we create about your brand to share with your networks.  It also provides our readers with an opportunity to get to know your brand better.
(A custom designed, full color, print ready PDF magazine for your brand(s) will also be available to you for Point of Sale or advertising purposes.)
A reach of over 43,000 impressions.

Altogether, just one of each piece of social content would provide your brand with well over 169,000 impressions before ever being shared on YOUR networks or by your fans and followers on all of these combined networks.

As a Brand of Promise Nominee, we are offering this $520 value to you at the price of $250 per expression and two bottles of each to share with people along the way.

Please reserve your spot now by filling out the interest form below.  We’ll respond with payment and delivery information, our deliverables, and more details on our route.

We look forward to working with you!


M.A. “Mike” Morales

Tequila Marketing Happy Talk

Tequila Marketing Happy Talk well-meaning follower posted on our Facebook page this answer to a press release referring to Espolón tequila…

“PSA: “super premium” has no real meaning—it’s marketing happy talk.”

While we’re inclined to believe that sneaky marketers have hijacked the word premium and turned it into a buzzword, in all actuality, it is a spirits pricing term.

Let’s Review

As we pointed out in our feature, Craft Tequila:  WTF Does THAT Mean? Part 2, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), the national trade association and lobbyist representing the leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits in the United States, separates all booze into four categories–

Value, Premium, High End Premium and Super Premium.  [Note the absence of the term, Ultra Premium.]

The confusion stems from the fact that DISCUS lists the price points of each particular spirit by supplier revenue per case, not by retail price per bottle.

It is DISCUS’ industry-focused terms that are the culprit, and marketers have indelibly embedded premium into consumer’s minds like an embarrassing tattoo on a mixologist’s forearm.

Think Like a Marketer

[Warning:  You might want to shower after this segment.]

Webster’s Online Dictionary defines premium as “a price that is higher than the regular price.”

Want to think like a marketer?

Then, run premium through Webster’s Thesaurus and inhale deeply as if you’ve just stumbled upon a secret cava filled to the ceiling with barrels of resting añejos.

Revel in the treasure trove of descriptors like Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now.


A Stroll Down the Tequila Aisle

Now that you’ve toweled off, take a look at DISCUS’ 2015 Industry Review Supplemental Tables, here.

Scroll to the section titled Distilled Spirits Pricing Categories and notice the names listed under Major Brands, especially those in the Tequila segment.

Bear in mind that all spirits categories are measured by how well or badly the Big Boys are performing.  Your preferred craft label may not even be mentioned.

Tequila Marketing Happy Talk, pretend you’re in the Tequila Aisle of your favorite liquor store and ask yourself–

Would I buy this tequila?

Whether your answer is yes or no, determine where your preferred tequila brand is priced and pigeonholed.

Value, Premium, High End Premium and Super Premium.

Are they within a few bucks of the Usual Suspects, or are they completely out of your ballpark?

By the way, if you’re drinking at the Ultra Premium range, I have swamp land in Arizona that I’d like to unload, er, sell to you.

Falling For Marketing Happy Talk

Next, just for kicks and giggles, take a gander at DISCUS’ US Tequila Market at a Glance, here.

Look closely at the astronomical growth of the High End Premium and Super Premium divisions since 2002-2003.  This trend even has a name–

Premiumisation.  How’s that for a buzzword?

Depending on which categories your favorite tequilas land, are you Tequila Marketing Happy Talk paying those prices?

Put another way–

Are you happy for supporting the Big Boys all these years?

Remember, there is no shame in sipping value tequilas.  We won’t judge you.  When in doubt, turn to our Sipping Off The Cuff(c) episodes to help with your buying decisions.

Go ahead…

Reach for that box of tissues, pour yourself a craft tequila, and vow never again to fall for the marketing happy talk.