From Babes to Boss Ladies: Women & Tequila

Tequila Aficionado Exclusive Series

babes-to-boss-ladiesWe’ve had a special place in our hearts for the unsung heroines and muses in tequila for a very long time.  After reading Ilana Edelstein’s The Patron Way, Mike & I felt it was time someone brought other women’s stories to light – and what better place to do that than at the leader in tequila information since 1999 – Tequila Aficionado.

It all began with Tequila Boss Ladies and grew from there.  This series has grown over the years to include sotol, mezcal and agave spirits so there is still more to come!  In the meantime, you can catch up on the entire series to date.

From Babes to Boss Ladies

The contributions of women who create some of the amazing spirits we enjoy, direct production and distillation, support educational efforts, own brands we love, and otherwise contribute to the tequila industry are often overlooked beyond the 80’s throwback bikini-babe marketing efforts of behind-the-times brands.  (Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, but when women make 80% of the buying decisions in America today, don’t you think brands would be better served by changing their marketing approach with the times?)

Catch Up With The Series

Click on the links below to visit our ongoing series and explore some of the amazing contributions made by women in today’s tequila 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!

Women In The Tequila Industry: Lisa Barlow

One of the more intriguing Tequila Boss Ladies, is the brains–and grace–behind Vida Tequila, Lisa Barlow.

A contestant on Last Tequila Standing, and a participating brand during our 2015 Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour, Ms. Barlow works tirelessly to keep Vida’s image and flavor fresh and consistent.

Aside from being a Woman In The Tequila Industry, Lisa was also a partner in one of the most celebrated restaurants in Park City, Utah, called Silver.  Up until June 2015, it hosted wildly popular events that were the hottest tickets to come by during the star-studded Sundance Film Festival.  In 2016, a pop-up Vida Tequila Lounge continued that tradition at Sundance.

A triple threat, this wife and mother of two also runs a marketing firm based in future VIDA ownersNew York.  Lisa Barlow makes working her businesses seem effortless, and does it all with flawless style.

Here are her thoughts on our customary handful of questions.

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TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?

LB:  I have never felt as though the challenges in the spirits industry stem from being a woman.  I have a strong vision for VIDA and a strong business acumen.  I like being in an arena where I am constantly challenged and the spirits industry gives me that opportunity.

Man or woman, it really doesn’t matter; what matters is that you are on point and doing the right things for your business.  Being a mother of two boys, I think its a great example for them to see me work hard at our family business.

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

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LB:  One always hopes they are making a difference.

When we launched in 2007 there were less than 400 tequila brands in the USA.  For me it was important that the brand had a clear vision and an authentic one.  Your customers feel your passion.  It engages them into your product and drives them to search for more information, which helps the category.

I love what I do.  I really wanted to integrate things that were important to me into our brand.  We launched with a beautiful white package that was very Lisa_Vidadifferent from the bright colors and busy boxes we were seeing on the store shelves.

I also incorporated my vision of what tequila should be in early advertisements; tequila is modern, sophisticated.

We had campaigns that said “NO WORM, JUST ROCKS,” or “VIDA COUTURE” moving VIDA away from the cliches and stereotypes.  This is one thing and those things take time and [it] was challenging in the beginning.

[It is] much easier to launch a brand today with how much education is now available, that was not there when we launched.

Being able to make a great tequila is beautiful.  Everything from the plant to the process is bold.  To be able to take this into the USA and other countries and grow the category is huge.  I am very involved because I love what we produce and our brand, VIDA.

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

LB:  As the category continues to rise, so will the number of women who work within the category and the roles they play.  From Distiller to CEO, I think there will be a lot of growth and changes on multiple levels.

TA:  What facets of the Tequila Industry would you like to see change?lisa headshot

LB:  This is a tough question.

There is an art to making tequila.  From start to finish; to me it’s beautiful.  The rich history of this spirit is in Mexico – it’s important to maintain this.

Within any industry, it’s important to make sure that production and distribution are continually evaluated.

Change is good, always.  We are constantly trying to evolve and put our focus on a global future.

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

LB:  Its an amazing industry to be a part of.  Have a clear plan and go for it.

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 BIG Business of Kosher Tequila, Part I

[An urgent text message about Kosher tequilas from an agave beverage manager at a thriving new bar in New York City, and the resulting questions raised from research into this misunderstood market from all points–tequila and mezcal brand owners, consumers, and rabbinical representatives of the Jewish faith–prompted me to finally discuss the positive, often flawed, and vastly under served kosher tequila and mezcal segments of the market.]

A Rant on Kosher Tequila…

For years, anyone who’s ever searched for a current list of kosher tequilas has no doubt been directed to the website of the largest regional Jewish Orthodox organization in North America, the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc).

Those same persons were tragically disheartened by the woefully meager list of kosher tequilas–and these days–unmentioned mezcals.  And of the brands that were listed, more often than not, were now, sadly, extinct.

This old, outdated, and unreliable list is not only supposed to be a guide to fully enjoy and appreciate the Jewish holidays and to help “keep kosher” year round, but it also serves Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists, Vegetarians, Vegans and even people who are lactose or glucose intolerant.

So…

What Exactly Is Kosher, Anyway?

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For us gentiles (non-Jews), Kashrut is the set of Jewish religious dietary laws.  Food that may be consumed according to halakha (Jewish law) is deemed kosher meaning fit, and in this case, fit for eating or drinking.

In every case, approved products are given a hechsher, a rabbinical seal of approval, by a trusted and reputable kosher certifying agency that signifies the food or drink conforms to Jewish law.

Here’s a helpful Kosher glossary of terms.

quely-obtains-the-kosher-certificationHistorically, the practice of marking food as kashrut dates back as far as the Byzantine period (6th century CE) where Jews of a particular region in Israel stamped their bread dough with impressions of the Jewish Temple Menorah in order for consumers to verify its kashrut.

In 1911, soap manufacturer, Procter & Gamble became the first company to advertise a new product, Crisco, as kosher.  Over the next twenty years, companies with household names like Lender’s Bagels, Maxwell House, and Manischewitz grew the kosher market.  And who can forget that famous slogan for Hebrew National hotdogs?–“We answer to a Higher Authority.”

Decades later, kosher has come to symbolize both quality and value.  It has also become a very lucrative market according Menachem Lubinsky, founder of the annual two-day Kosherfest trade fair.  As of 2015, he estimates there are as many as 14 million kosher consumers that generate $40 billion in sales of kosher products in the US alone.

Other sources estimate that over $150 billion of kosher-certified products are consumed every year in the US.

Kosher Certifying Agencies

A kosher certification agency is an organization that bestows a hechsher to ingredients, packaged foods, beverages, and certain materials, as well as food-service providers and facilities in which kosher food is prepared or served.  This certification verifies that the ingredients, production methods, and/or food-service processes and utensils complies with the standards of kashrut.

To be certified requires periodic onsite visits, sometimes unannounced, by mashgichim (rabbinic field representatives) in order to verify ongoing compliance.

Today, the largest kosher certification agencies in the United States, known as the “Big Five,” certify more than 80 percent of the kosher food sold domestically.  These five agencies are: the OU, OK, Kof-K, Star-K, and cRc

most_commonK

Other respected kosher certifying agencies around the globe include:

EarthKosher based in Colorado, the logo of both the Johannesburg/Cape Town Beth Din used in South Africa, MK headquartered in Montreal, Canada, and The Kashrut Authority in Sydney, Australia.  Operating across six continents including the United Kingdom, KLBD, based in London, is the Kashrut Division of the London Beth Din.

By far, the greatest number of agencies seems to be in the USA.

Kashrus Magazine publishes a bi-annual guide to almost all kosher certifying agencies worldwide.  As with the tequila NOM lists, the number of agencies, just like the number of tequila brands and distilleries, fluctuates from year to year.  At press time, this number is between 1,151 to 1,253.

When In Mexico…

In Mexico and throughout Latin America, however, KA-Kosher  and Kosher Maguen David (KMD) rule the roost when it comes to certifying products as kosher.

KA Kosher, Kosher

As per KA-Kosher’s Facebook page:

“El sello KA KOSHER es el único en México aprobado por el Tribunal Rabínico de Israel.  Es el logo de la Comunidad Ashkenazí, el único en Latinoamérica aprobado por el Alto Tribunal Rabínico de Israel.  Bajo su sello se encuentran marcas como Nestlé, JUMEX, Del Monte, LALA y casi 500 empresas más.”

(“The KA-KOSHER seal is the only one in Mexico approved by the Rabbinical Tribunal of Israel [Chief Rabbinate Council of Israel].  It is the logo of the Ashkenazi community, the only one in Latin America approved by the High Rabbinical Tribunal of Israel [again, Chief Rabbinate Council of Israel].  Beneath its seal are such brands as Nestlé, JUMEX, Del Monte, LALA and almost 500 more companies.”)

KMD, kosher

KMD’s current website makes even bolder claims such as “Es la empresa líder en certificación kosher en Latinoamérica” (“The leading company in kosher certification in Latin America.”).

It also cites statistics that Mexico is the fourth largest kosher market behind Israel, the United States, and France, and that sales of kosher products, presumably in these countries, exceeds non-kosher sales by 20 percent.  KMD also states that 80 percent of kosher sales are to non-Jewish consumers.

KMD, stems from the Sephardic community of Jews and is known to follow the strictest codes and standards of kashrut, referred to as Mehadrin.

 Decisions, Decisions…

states, jewish

Similar to organic certifying agencies, having your tequila or mezcal brand approved as kosher requires that you hire one of these kosher certifying agencies.  Like buying a car, you don’t necessarily need to purchase one from a local dealership.

You can go anywhere in the world, but with so many certifying agencies and what seems like varying degrees of inspection, can you feel confident about purchasing their services?

Who Do You Trust?

If you’re a tequila or mezcal brand owner considering certification, we’ll offer some tips and steps you can take in Part 2.

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!!