Women In The Bacanora Industry: Laura Espinoza Alonso

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

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

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

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

 

Questions for Women In Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Series

 

–How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries?)

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

[

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

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

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

 

Women In The Bacanora Industry: Laura Espinoza Alonso

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

(¿Qué cosas gustaría cambiado?)

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

–Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industries in one form or another?

 

(¿Existe algo que le gustaría decir a las mujeres que pueden estar contemplando entrar y trabajar en la industria del Tequila, Mezcal o Bacanora en una forma u otra?)

 

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

 

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

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

A Bacanora Boss Lady Tells All: Adriana Torres

Adriana Torres:  Bacanora Boss Lady

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

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

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

Meet Bacanora

Mezcal is all the craze these days.

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

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

A Troubled Past

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Bacanora Boss Lady Tells All

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

***

[English]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am a bacanora producer.

[Spanish]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soy Productora de Bacanora.

More on Bacanora

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

 

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

Revel Avila Blanco Review [Transcript]

In case you haven’t had time to watch the full review of Revel Avila Blanco, we’ve shared a replay along with a full transcript.

 

 

ALEX: You’re watching Sipping Off the Cuff on Tequila Aficionado dot com. I’m Alex Perez in Southern California.

MIKE: I’m Mike Morales here in San Antonio and …

ALEX: San Antonio.

MIKE: San Antonio. And we’re going to do …

ALEX: Oh, it’s Bert!

Sipping Off the Cuff | Revel Avila Blanco [Transcript] https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5LtMIKE: Yeah, we’re going to do: It’s Bert and Ernie. It’s not Alex and Mike, it’s Bert and Ernie.

ALEX: It´s Bert and Ernie.

MIKE: Tonight, Alex, we have a really unusual situation. We have an agave –

ALEX: Desmadre.

MIKE: What’s that?

ALEX: Desmadre.

MIKE: Tenemos un desmadre. Man, It’s not a relajo anymore.

ALEX: We had a relajo but relajo turned into a desmadre.

MIKE: We have a veritable cornucopia of confusion. (laughing) We have …

ALEX: An Enigma.

MIKE: An enigma. It’s called Revel Spirits. Revel. Now Alex, I can’t get into their website, but you can. This is technically …

ALEX: It doesn’t say much.

MIKE: Technically speaking, this is an agave spirit.

ALEX: Right. Why?

MIKE: Why? Because you say, it comes from the state of Morelos.

ALEX: Morelos, so it’s not one of the five.

MIKE: It’s not one of the five denominations of origin for tequila. However, it is made with blue agave.

ALEX: Blue weber Agave, right?

MIKE: Blue weber Agave. Like I said, I can’t get into their website, but there is some press information on these folks. And Alex, you said previously in our discussion on the, what was it, the Golden State of Cocktails?

ALEX: Yes.

MIKE: Right? You said that they were there!

ALEX: They were there. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to meet with them. They actually sponsored some lunch.

MIKE: Oh, no kidding. Oh wow.

ALEX: Which was nice.

MIKE: Yeah.

ALEX: But that’s the thing. When you go to some of these events, there’s so many things to see and taste and you can´t – sometimes you just can’t get to everything.

MIKE: No, you just go for …

ALEX: Because I was running back and forth between the main hall …

MIKE: And the classes, right?

ALEX: …And the exhibits and then the classes. So, I completely missed them.

MIKE: Hey, but that’s okay. Luckily, they didn’t miss us. We’ve had these samples for a while. They were very, very forthcoming with information. And this is a safety pour bottle. So we’re going to do this in Riedels. I like the fact that it’s got bubbles, Alex.

ALEX: Yes, it’s got bu –

MIKE: I do like the fact that it has bubbles.

ALEX: Love the bottle. I like the shape of the bottle.

MIKE: Yeah, it’s very elegant. It’s not common. We haven’t seen this bottle like this. It’s 80-proof.

ALEX: Yep.

MIKE: So it’s 40 A.B.V.

ALEX: And it’s triple distilled.

MIKE: Triple distilled.

ALEX: Triple distilled. 40 percent alcohol, 80-proof.

MIKE: Now they’re calling this, apparently, from the website or from the information that we have, they’re calling it … the beverage was called an Avila. An avila is a surname as far as I know. But technically, it’s out of the growing region and denomination of origin so we have to call it an agave spirit, but it is, according to the press information that I see here, it’s owned by two folks out of the Twin Cities area in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is right there, that’s unusual. And I guess they used to be in the music business. And, you know, one thing led to another and the next thing they know, they’re doing ultra premium avila. So I guess that’s what they’re calling it: Ultra Premium Avila.

ALEX: That’s right, yeah.

MIKE: It’s sold in 750-liter bottles, 750s, and ranges in price from $70 to $130 per bottle.

This would be in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area, which I believe is a control state.

ALEX: So you would call this an avila, just like you would call a tequila “tequila”, Sotol, Mezcal.

MIKE: Mezcal. So this is considered an avila.

ALEX: Interesting. Well it’s got a really interesting nose. (sniffs) Got a neat nose.

MIKE: Well, that’s kind of a fruity nose there at the bottom, Alex.

ALEX: Yeah, it’s got fruit.

MIKE: I even got a little, just a hint of yeast.

ALEX: Yeah, I do get the yeast, you’re right.

MIKE: It’s just, it’s fleeting. It’s a fleeting thing of yeast. Thing, you know. It’s a whiff.

ALEX: It’s a whiff-thing. Very interesting.

MIKE: It’s got a fruity nose. It’s got a really pleasant nose.

ALEX: Yeah, it’s got fruit. It’s real earthy to me. Not the green, which we´ve been told, but earthy.

MIKE: And it’s not earthy like it is in a Mati tan, it’s really different.

ALEX: Yeah, it’s more towards Sotol, more towards …

MIKE: Yeah, it’s not volcanic in nature.

ALEX: Not towards mezcal, but more towards a Sotol. Interesting. And interesting because it’s supposed to be 100 percent blue weber agave.

MIKE: Yeah, but again, this is grown in another state, so we know that when you talk about terroir

ALEX: Wow.

MIKE: I’m still trying to get over the nose.

ALEX: Wow, completely different in the mouth. Different in the palate.

MIKE: (Grunts)

ALEX: Very interesting, huh?

MIKE: (Grunts) That’s, um …

ALEX: We like to make a lot of noises.

MIKE: Well, it´s – you know, it’s my retronasal and I can’t, I’ve never had … It’s different.

ALEX: Very unique.

MIKE: Yeah!

ALEX: It’s very bright. Really fresh.

MIKE: Um, there’s not much of a finish.

ALEX: On the palate.

MIKE: It’s not like a deep, warm fuzzy or anything. This is, again, it’s a triple distilled.

ALEX: I did get some spiciness on the back end. Actually, interesting, up on the top of my palate, up on the roof of my mouth.

MIKE: Hmm. I’m still trying to place that retro nasal. I don’t know if that’s green or earthy…?

ALEX: It’s earthy and green. It’s a little green in there, I can see it – taste – I can smell it now, I should say. What a different spirit! So this is considered an avila.

MIKE: (Grunts)

ALEX: (Grunts) Yeah, it’s green.

MIKE: It’s like cucumbers and…

ALEX: Definitely vegetal.

MIKE: Yeah! You could say it’s a little bit briny, maybe?

ALEX: Yeah.

MIKE: Not a lot, but a little bit. Kinda like, I wanna say olives, but no, not really.

ALEX: Yeah, I think some olives. I can hear that in the really – very top of the glass.

MIKE: It’s a little sweet, too. Not a lot, but it’s a little sweet.

ALEX: I think it’s extra sweetness.

MIKE: It’s really, really unusual. It’s not like anything I’ve ever had that wasn’t smoked. You know what I mean? I’s almost as if … I guess it would be considered a mezcal, as well, but it’s, umm…

ALEX: It´s completely different.

MIKE: Yeah. It’s not like any terroir I’ve ever had. And I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or a good thing. I think it’s really cocktail-forward. I think this thing would never get lost in a cocktail. I mean they – You know, some agaves from different states taste different. Like for instance, Herman Gonzalez, when he was with Chonaco would take agave from Tamaulipas, and he would blend it with highlands agave from Jalisco. And to tone down apparently whatever gaminess, or to give it a different flavor profile in the end product, and this one doesn’t. This is, really what you’re getting is how it’s grown in Morelos. This is…

ALEX: This is really, I would think, very cocktail-forward.

MIKE: Yeah, it’s …

ALEX: If you pair – you know, if you need to pair this with some herbs.

MIKE: That’s what it is. It’s rather herbal.

ALEX: Yeah. Pairing it with some, with a cocktail with some rosemary in it or something.

MIKE: You can tell by the look on my face I’m really confused. I’ve never had anything like this, and it’s not bad, it’s just different.

ALEX: Oh, it’s different.

MIKE: I can’t place it. You know, you think you’ve tasted everything.

ALEX: Typically, we do tequilas and mezcals.

MIKE: And Sotols. You know, we’ve had our share of really good Sotols. And this has got a sweet nose, a whiff of yeast, not a whole lot, but…

ALEX: So this is Revel. Let me look it up again. Revel…

MIKE: Revel Avila.

ALEX: Avila. Avila, right?

MIKE: Yeah. Revel Avila. Revel Spirits.

ALEX: Yeah.

MIKE: And apparently, in the Twin Cities area, their blanco would probably – this blanco would go for about $70, but I’m sure that’s a control state so your pricing would be a little bit different. Your pricing may vary, right?

ALEX: There’s an online store selling the añejo for a hundred and nine dollas.

MIKE: Yikes.

ALEX: Regular $129 bucks. That’s their suggested retail. So this is from the Morelos region, we mentioned that already I think.

MIKE: Yeah. And it´s a – it must be a small batch. Is this, is he…? I guess at this point you would be considered small batch we’re not sure how widespread this spirit is. And the good thing is you saw it in LA, so you know, at the cocktail conference.

ALEX: Yeah. Interesting.

MIKE: Yeah, I don’t know what to tell you, man. Um…

ALEX: Do you like it?

MIKE: I’m gonna have to sit with it because I’m not really sure and I’m not a big cocktail guy. So, I can see where this would work great in a cocktail, not having, you know … There’s a lot of stuff that the website claims, for instance, that this is an organic product but yet, there’s no USDA seal. And it´s not, so you know, you can say it’s organic, you can believe that they’re not using pesticides and things like that, and that could be the case, but we don’t know that. So we’re not gonna claim that it’s organic, but I like – First of all, I like the look, the presentation’s very nice and sleek.

ALEX: Yeah.

MIKE: I don’t know, Alex, do you like it? What do you think? I mean, we don’t have an agave spirits category. Because it is made with blue agave, that we know for sure. And it does come out of a state outside of the denomination of origin, so technically, it has to be called agave spirit.

ALEX: Right.

MIKE: Triple distilled, which is unusual, and 80-proof. I mean, what’s our verdict? Do you think there’s a market for something like this?

ALEX: I think so. I don’t know about the price point.

MIKE: Yeah, that price point is steep, man. But, again, this is probably a small batch. We don’t know anything about the distillery.

ALEX: No.

MIKE: We have not seen any pictures. We don´t – You know, there’s very little information on … I can’t even get into their website, I know Alex can, but I can’t for some weird reason, I have no idea. So I’m going by the information on the press release that I’m looking at came out on October of 2014 so we know they’re been out for a while.

ALEX: Yep.

MIKE: I mean, they’ve been in existence for at least a couple of years.

ALEX: Yeah, I’m trying to find more info on them. There’s not much.

MIKE: Yeah, even when you Google these folks.

ALEX: Old Town Tequila has them.

MIKE: What’s that?

ALEX: Old Town Tequila has them.

MIKE: Of course he does!

ALEX: Old Town is selling the añejo for $109.

MIKE: They are on Twitter, they are on Facebook. I haven’t checked to see if they are on Instagram, they could be. They do exist on Pinterest, which is interesting.

 

Revel Avila Website: https://www.revelspirits.com/

Revel Spirits on Twitter: https://twitter.com/revelspirits

Revel on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RevelSpiritsinc/

Revel on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/revelspirits/

 

ALEX: Yeah, I think it’s very unique. It’s not something that we expect, I guess because we’re always …

MIKE: No, no. It’s really, really different, but not in a bad way. It’s just something we´re going to need to get used to. I think, Alex, for lack of – because we don’t have a category for agave spirits, by default, we would have to nominate this as an agave spirit category.

ALEX: Yeah, you know I do want to nominate it.

MIKE: I love the packaging. I like the packaging.

ALEX: I think it´s worthy of a nomination.

MIKE: I think it’s unique enough that it merits attention. Okay, that’s my bottom line. For some people …

ALEX: Yeah, I think it’s a really interesting spirit.

MIKE: For some people, mezcal is an acquired taste. Or Sotol is an acquired taste, and I think the more we experiment with this, the more we’ll come to expect a certain type of flavor profile. This may be the first run of this batch, so it may change. I don’t know. I don’t know… but it’s a really…

ALEX: Need some more info. There’s not much info on it.

MIKE: No, no, there – it’s an unusual spirit with… I think the best thing to do is to toss it out to the audience out there. If you’ve had it, give us your thoughts, you know, what you think in the comments below. Subscribe to our YouTube, and you guys tell us because maybe you guys in the Twin Cities are more aware of this than we are. The fact that they’re in Southern California, we need to find out who carries them, Alex, who their distributor is, if they even have one.

ALEX: Yeah, I like it, Mike. It’s different.

MIKE: I think it merits attention.

ALEX: I think so.

MIKE: It merits attention, it really does.

ALEX: Oh, I just found something here. It says they’ve got 500 years of tradition. So I need… Let’s see, it says …

MIKE: There are a couple of agave spirits that we’ve tried to get on our show that have, you know, five or six generation distillers who are making things in a traditional way.

ALEX: Yeah.

MIKE: But they’re not tequila.

ALEX: Right.

MIKE: And I’ve been chasing, you know, those brands for a while, but I give these guys credit. They sent us samples almost like right away! This was one of the first ones that we received in 2015. So I say let’s nominate them and let the public decide. I think if you’ve had it and you want to tell us what you picked out of it, by all means, do so in the comments below and let us know. I think we’re gonna nominate it for “Packaging” and also for Brands of Promise in the agave spirits category. We’ll just go with what they’re telling us. They even state a NOM, and I don’t know …

Sipping Off the Cuff | Revel Avila Blanco [Transcript] https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5LtALEX: How can they have a NOM?

MIKE: Well I don’t know! On the back of the bottle, it says “NOM E-M-O”, looks like “O-1-2-S-C-F-1 2006”.

ALEX: Where’d you get that?

MIKE: It’s right there on the back.

ALEX: On the back of the bottle?

MIKE: Yeah!

ALEX: On the label?

MIKE: Uh huh.

ALEX: Oh, there it is, you’re right!

MIKE: Yeah, Revel Spirits is out of Napa, California.

ALEX: You know, this is interesting. I’d be interested to know if Morelos has a designation by the government for their agave spirits.

MIKE: I don’t know.

ALEX: Why else would they have a NOM?

MIKE: I am completely in the dark.

ALEX: Dumbfounded. Yeah, I think it’s worthy to check out.

MIKE: Yeah, I think so, too. I think …

ALEX: It’s got – it´s real reminiscent of a Sotol. I would maybe call it like a “light Sotol” because of the earthiness. You do get some – I did get some citrus in there, the earthiness, like I mentioned.

MIKE: There’s a sweetness, too, Alex.

ALEX: There is a sweetness, yeah.

MIKE: There’s a sweetness to it, but there’s something in the retronasal that’s really, like right now for me, indistinguishable.

ALEX: And actually – I actually am getting a little bit of agave, almost like a dirty agave.

MIKE: (laughs)

ALEX: If that makes any sense. Because of the earthiness, you know?

MIKE: Yeah, yeah.

ALEX: Like an earthy agave.

MIKE: You know, that’s what I’m saying. This could be that what we’re tasting is the terroir of Morelos.

ALEX: Right.

MIKE: That we’re not used to because we’ve never had it.

ALEX: Right.

MIKE: And because it’s out of the denomination of origin. It’s out of the designated area. We don’t know what this tastes like. So you know, you guys tell us. But that’s our take on Revel Spirits.

ALEX: Revel Avila.

MIKE: Blanco. On the Avila. I’m Mike Morales here in San Antonio.

ALEX: I’m Alex Perez, you’re watching Sipping off the Cuff on Tequila Aficionado dot com. Thanks for watching, and as always, sip wisely.

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!

Hail Cheesers!

[From September 11 to October 2, 2016, Tequila Aficionado Media, sponsored by 34 expressions representing 21 brands, embarked on a monumental RV road show dubbed, The Heartland Tour.  In these next passages, we recount the historic–and epic–highlights.  *FTC Disclosure: Brands appearing on the Tequila Aficionado Dia de Los Muertos & Heartland Tour had to be vetted as Brand of Promise Nominees and paid a nominal fee to be on the tour.]

Cheese and Agave Spirits?

Hail Cheesers! http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4xaWhen Lisa Pietsch, CMO of Tequila Aficionado, first pitched the idea of an Agave Spirits Tour through America’s Heartland, I had my doubts.

Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, several points in between, then, back home to Texas.

“Why don’t we call it the Control State Tour?” I asked, facetiously. “Or, ‘Escape from the Bourbon Belt?'”

After she punched me in the arm, she declared, “I want to do cheese pairings with agave spirits and Wisconsin cheeses.”

I rolled my eyes, but then she explained that the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s official website had listed ideal cheese pairings with wine, dark spirits and beer.

Tequila, mezcal and agave spirits were nowhere to be found!

Hail Cheesers! http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4xa

Cheeses of Mexico

“Imagine what pairings we could suggest to our readers with our sponsor’s agave spirits,” she urged.

It occurred to me that Mexico is a prolific cheese producing country and that many of their regional cheeses are made within the same states as some mezcals.

Surely, I thought, there are bars and restaurants in Mexico that serve some of the very best cheeses recognized worldwide with prize winning mezcals and tequilas?

Hail Cheesers! http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4xa

“Why not?” I said to Lisa. “Let’s do it.”

What follows is our enlightening and palate pleasing visit to Cheesers in the charming and picturesque hamlet of Stoughton, WI with proprietress, Peg Schuett.

Filling A Need

Lisa Pietsch explains to Peg Schuett, owner of Cheesers, what compelled us to seek her store out during our Heartland Tour.

Craft Cheeses Made by Masters

Peg Schuett, owner of Cheesers, describes her method of selecting the craft cheeses she carries.

She also explains the stringent regulations that it takes to become a Master Cheese Maker in the state of Wisconsin.

Award Winning Cheese

Peg goes on to list the award winning cheeses she proudly provides in her main display case.

Cheese From Family Farms

Peg continues to walk us through her prize winning cheeses produced at family farms.

Cheese Pairing

Lisa and I sample several of Peg’s suggestions while we try to decide which sponsored agave spirits brands would pair nicely with them.

Hail Cheesers! http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4xa

Together, we determine that Soltado, Route 66, and Santo Diablo Mezcal would pair deliciously with this group of cheeses.

Hail Cheesers! http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4xa

It’s Hard Work

Peg assures us that cheese making is hard work. Lisa admonishes me for not nosing my cheese properly like I do with agave spirits.

Serving Suggestions

Peg instructs us as to what optimal temperature cheeses should be served.

Just as each expression of agave spirits should be served at room temperature, serving sliced cheese follows the same rules.

Try cheese pairing with your agave spirits, and give Cheesers a call.  They ship everywhere!

2016-09-19-11-40-28

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!

Pepe Z: The Mad Man of Tequila

Pepe Z: The Mad Man of Tequila http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4pSI’ve finally gotten around to binge watching Mad Men on Netflix.

In case you haven’t joined the Streaming Generation, or lived without cable TV for awhile, Mad Men is a series set in the 1960’s about a fictional ad agency called Sterling Cooper based in New York City’s famed Madison Avenue.

[Editor’s note: I still can’t believe I was born during the Eisenhower administration!]

Tequila marketing being my thing, naturally, I’m drawn to the product placement of distilled spirits on the historically accurate show.

Along with adverts concocted by admen for cigarettes, bras, and washing

Pepe Z: The Mad Man of Tequila http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4pS
Vintage Cuervo ad

machine manufacturers, spirits companies like Seagram’s, Jack Daniels, and Jose Cuervo were also a part of the advertising renaissance, and not just on American soil.  These early Behemoths of Booze also took the fight offshore.

And nobody can tell you more about those challenges better than José Zevada.

The Mad Man of The Caribbean

Jose “Pepe” Zevada and the story of the Z Tequila Brand from Z Tequila on Vimeo.

Pepe Z: The Mad Man of Tequila http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4pS
Iron Cactus menu.

I finally met the charismatic Pepe Zevada, the maker of Pepe Z Tequila, accompanied by Glynn Bloomquist, (CEO and Chairman), and Guy England (South Texas Market Manager), of Empresario LLC, the first Texas company to create, brand, distill, import, and market spirits.

Pepe Z: The Mad Man of Tequila http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4pS
Fernando Lamas

With the elegance and charm suggestive of silver screen Latino Hollywood hunks like Ricardo Montalbán or Fernando Lamas, and peppered with jokes and anecdotes of the “glory days,” you get the sense that you’re reliving spirits industry history, Mad Men style.

Over a delicious lunch at the Iron Cactus Mexican Grill & Margarita Bar on San Antonio’s renowned Riverwalk, Pepe regaled us with episodes of his life as the vice president of Brown-Forman in Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean.  During that time, he traveled to 106 countries (Pepe speaks 5 or 6 languages fluently) introducing Jack Daniels to those parts of the world.

After 30 years with Brown-Forman, he went on to work as vice president for the classic spirits distiller Hiram Walker (Sauza, Kahlúa, Courvasier, Beefeater), until the merger of Allied Domecq.

To Make a Long Story Short

After persistent encouragement from friends in Mexico, Pepe Z Tequila was Pepe Z: The Mad Man of Tequila http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4pSborn shortly after José retired from 35 years in the liquor industry.

But, in the tradition of the three generations of Sauzas, Don Julio González, José Cuervo and Don Eduardo Orendáin, Pepe was determined to only put his name on a quality tequila.

To create a batch of Pepe Z takes over three weeks.  He calls the blanco tequila the “mother” of the line, and claims that the selected agave is the key to a sterling product.

Pepe Z Tequila uses only lightly toasted virgin American Oak barrels (not charred) for its reposado and añejo expressions, and it is one of the lowest in methanol after distillation.

Pepe Z: The Mad Man of Tequila http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4pS
Pepe, Guy and Glynn of Empresario.

These time tested techniques have not only achieved an authentic, “old world” flavor profile, but it has also garnered Pepe Z some serious hardware in the form of medals and awards.

 Flavor, Friendship and Family

Raised in Mexico of Spanish parents, José (Pepe is a common nickname for Josés) was brought up with strict moral values that have guided him throughout his life.

In his words, “I don’t do business without being friends, first.”  He asserts, “The liquor business is a people business, not a laptop business.”

In the era dominated by contracted brands with glamorous images and no backstory, Zevada prefers to take a page from those legendary patriarchs of tequila and make every effort to meet and greet each of his customers, personally.

Pepe Z: The Mad Man of Tequila http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4pS
Pepe Zevada and Mike Morales.

Part of the brand’s strategy is to nurture its relationship with its hometown of Austin, and then to solidify its embrace on the rest of Texas before conquering other states.  This tactic has worked wonders as evidenced by the glowing testimonials given by his customers.

While his clients enthusiastically preserve their friendship with Pepe, Zevada gratefully acknowledges that, “My customers are part of the Z family.”

And, in a time where spirits are judged on perceived value, Pepe demands that his tequilas remain affordable, believing that luxury shouldn’t be so hard to come by.

Distinguished flavor, devoted friendship and defined family values is the method to Pepe Zevada’s effective–and infectious–“madness.”

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 Mezcal Industry: Karla Amtmann

IMG_0915-4With the burgeoning mezcal trend in full bloom throughout the world, a new kind of Boss Lady has also emerged.

One who is not only willing to navigate the big business of spirits brand ownership, but is also courageous enough to nurture the delicate balance between successfully marketing her own mezcal and preserving a way of life.

Karla Amtmann is one such leader.  A relative newcomer to the mezcal industry, she shares a passion for all agave spirits that began in her native Mexico City.

Believing that, “drinking mezcal evokes a deeper connection with the earth,” and “connects me with my heritage and the history of my family and culture of Mexico,” she has triumphantly spearheaded the crowdfunding of her own Santo Diablo mezcal.

Similar to our Women In the Tequila Industry articles, here, she launches ourSD karla 3 Women In the Mezcal Industry series with her thoughts on our customary handful of questions, along with additional views on the romance of mezcal.

***

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

KA:  There are many men in the spirits industry, but I truly haven’t really thought about it that way.

Yes, I am a woman in a man’s profession but in today’s world, I honestly don’t think it has anything to do with gender but more of one’s passion.

The women I know that are working in the industry have also been able to gain the respect of everyone in the field.  It is inspiring to see smart, capable people in fields that take charge and exhibit their passion.

Just as in any industry, loving what you do and working hard will bring success.

IMG_0763-2

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the mezcal industry?

KA:  It has been hard because often I am not taken seriously.  As many women experience, there is the question of whether to play up to feminine strengths or emphasize more male associated traits.

I have strived to combine the two, which, once again, ultimately highlights the passion that I truly have about Mezcal.  There are some challenging moments, but you just work through it and keep going.

TA:  What do you see as the future of woman working within the mezcal industry?

KA:  As a woman, being the face of a spirit is powerful and intriguing.  I feel that men in the industry are starting to see how the passion of a woman really represents the sexiness of Mezcal.

I think a woman is very much how I describe mezcal.

It is up to us to keep the family and the tradition together.  It is our job to care for it–to make it grow like we grow our own children, with dedication and responsibility.

IMG_0772-6TA:  What facets of the Mezcal Industry would you like to see change?

KA:  We must put more plants into the ground than are currently being taken out, and very importantly, sharing profits of the brand to the real producers of the mezcal by helping them grow.

After all, the brand growing is them having  the secret recipe.

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

KA:  I think right now, all the new owners of Mezcal want to come to the United States and are just focused on taking over the market and I don’t think that’s the right way to go.

There needs to be some sort of united front, where we as Mezcaleros educate consumers on what Mezcal actually is, its history and its magic as opposed to just focusing on one’s own brand.

Mezcal is like wine:  different regions, different earths, different climates, different agaves which impacts the mezcal flavors.  There are an infinite number of flavors that will suit each palate.

Our responsibility comes first to Mezcal then to our brand.  If you don’t respect Mezcal, Mezcal won’t respect you.

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating SD karla 2entering and working in the mezcal industry in one form or another?

KA:  Go for it!!!  I am living proof that with perseverance anything is possible.  If one is passionate about Mezcal (and what’s not to be passionate about!), then any woman will be successful!

I see the future of the industry as having more heart, more passion…just like every woman has!

I think I’m proving fact that a young woman can perform on the same level as the big boys, always knowing to control what I can control and following my instincts.

Cheers to the magic of Mezcal!

Romancing Mezcal

To taste Mezcal is to taste a unique individuality with every glass and every sip. No two Mezcals are alike; the perfect Mezcal requires just the right combination of fresh agave, authentic culture, and a dash of magic.

SantoDiabloMezcal is a reflection of the beauty of the land it originates from.

You can find it hiding within the rugged mountains, living amongst the native groups who are committed to preserving its ancestral traditions while they watch others around them let the jewels of their culture fade into distant memories.

A true Mezcal is one of those jewels.

It is the hills, it is the palenques, it is the isolated villages still holding on to what brings them closer to who they know they really are.

It is the sun shining down on our face, a consistency of time, and it is the collective passion of a culture dedicated to preserving its inner spirit.

This spirit gets whispered and passed along with every sip of Mezcal.

The story has been passed down in Mexico for over 24 centuries.  With Santo Diablo, we are committed to sharing it, and the spirit of Mexico, with the rest of the world.

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: Sarah Bowen

Divided Spirits, Sarah BowenI have many fond memories of my first meeting Sarah Bowen during the historic Ian Chadwick Blue Agave Forum tour of tequila distilleries in 2006.

She was a young student then, relentlessly recording every interview with master distillers and jimadores on a digital voice recorder, in flawless Spanish.

Who knew that ten years later she would be a wife, mother, and an Associate Professor of Sociology at North Carolina State University?

No doubt, she did.

Her years of intricate research into the tequila–and the now booming mezcal–industry led her in 2015 to publish Divided Spirits:  Tequila, Mezcal and the Politics of Production.

A vital voice that every potential Tequila Boss Lady should heed, here are Sarah’s responses to our handful of questions.

***

Bowen_headshot, Sarah BowenTA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila/Mezcal Industries?)

SB:  I am a researcher, not a part of the tequila or mezcal industries, so I think that matters.  I have thought a lot, however, about how being a woman mattered for my research.

For my book, I did over 100 interviews, and most of these were with men, who still hold most positions of power in the industry.  I think that in some cases, being a woman gave me an advantage.

Many of the men I interviewed did not perceive me, a young woman and a student at the time, as a threat or even as someone with a lot of knowledge of the industry.

This meant they were often willing to share politically controversial perspectives or details about their companies that I don’t know they would have shared with someone they saw as more of a contemporary.

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

SB:  In my book and in some of my other writing, I have tried to communicate the important issues facing the tequila and mezcal industries and show how consumers in the U.S. can advocate on behalf of small producers, farmers, and workers.

Consumers in the U.S. and Mexico helped defeat NOM 186 several years ago, and I hope we will be able to defeat NOM 199, the absurd proposal that would force many small mezcal producers to use the word “komil” to sell their spirits.

In a certain sense, I have more hope for the future of mezcal, in particular, than I have [tequila] in the ten years since I started studying these industries.

Consumers are increasingly knowledgeable about issues related to sustainability, quality, and fairness in these industries, and I hope that I might have played some small part in that.  But I also realize that it’s an uphill battle.

The rules that define tequila and mezcal have evolved in one direction for the last 60 years, and almost every decision has favored the big companies over small producers and workers.  Changing that trajectory is difficult, but I think we’re starting to see some positive changes.

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

SB:  I think that women are going to become more visible in the tequila and mezcal industries in the next few years.

Sarita Gaytán and Ana Valenzuela’s research on women in the tequila industry has shown that women are represented in increasingly diverse positions in the tequila industry:  from tequila companies to the CRT.

GracielaAngeles, Sarah BowenThe diversity and amount of mezcal being sold in the U.S. has grown so much in the last few years, and women are an important part of that growth as well.

For example, we see women like Graciela Angeles heading up Real Minero, one of the most interesting mezcal brands, and also being an influential and important voice about many current debates related to mezcal.

I think that these trends are going to continue, and that this is really important for the future of these industries.

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

SB:  We need more transparency about how profits are being distributed.

As I said above, savvy American consumers and bartenders are increasingly knowledgeable about the practices used to make their tequila and mezcal, and in the case of mezcal, about the type of agave that goes into it.  I think this has had positive effects.

But consumers know very little about how the people who make tequila and mezcal are compensated.

We live far away from the communities where [mezcal] is being produced, and it’s easy to romanticize these producers and their traditions.

We need to ask questions about how their mezcal is being produced—and perhaps most importantly, about how the small producers, farmers, and workers are being paid.

We also need to question a mezcal Denomination of Origin [DO] that excludes so many people and regions with long histories of making mezcal.

The rules of the DO excludes many people by setting standards that are more appropriate for large, industrial producers.  Even more egregiously, the geographical boundaries of the DO exclude people in many regions of Mexico where people have been making mezcal for multiple generations.

And NOM 199 threatens to make this even worse, by now making these people call their products “komil.”

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

SB:  I hope that they will continue, and I hope that they will support each other.

Bowen_agave

Diversifying the voices we hear from regarding the future of these industries–in terms of gender, but also in terms of geography, size, and ethnicity—is the best way to preserve the quality of tequila and mezcal and also support all of the people that make them.

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: Cleo Rocos

Cleo in Pool with AquaRIvaActress, comedienne, narrator, pop music collaborator, singer, producer, writer, world traveler, radio announcer, book author, and tequila brand owner.  Those are just a few of Cleo Rocos’ credentials.

Best known for her years as a sidekick on the BBC’s beloved Kenny Everett Television Show, she is often compared to Lucille Ball for her beauty, wit and business acumen.

Her circle of friends range from kings of comedy, queens of countries, princes ofCleo_Emma industry, and girls of spice.

Learning from a prized friend and mentor, Tomas Estes (Tequila Ocho), she established The Tequila Society in the UK, and launched her own AquaRiva tequila in 2012.

This Tequila Boss Lady pulls no punches when it comes to 100% agave tequila.  Here, she shares her views on our customary handful of questions.

***

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila Industry?

CR:  Everyone assumes that because Tequila is a male dominated industry that I would have to face challenges.  I love men and working with them.  I have always been treated with great respect and my thirst for knowledge willingly nurtured by everyone that I have met.

CleoCertificate

In fact in 2009 I was recognized by the CNIT with a coveted award, presented to me at the annual Dia del Tequilero, in Guadalajara.  A great honour.

I love the people in the tequila industry.  I spend a lot of time in Mexico and I have never encountered any negative experiences as a woman.

The tequila industry is cool and some of the coolest people in it are older than your grandparents and can show you how to really party.

It is well recognized that people live long and happy lives in this industry.

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

CR:  I have been able to change things extensively in the UK, turning around theAquaRiva_Syrup negative misconceptions by relentlessly explaining the dramatic difference between mixto and 100% agave tequilas and encouraging people to actually give tequila another try.

I actively get the tequila message out to a much wider audience through my career in television.

I appear on many TV and radio shows, write articles and give interviews explaining the truly exquisite experience of a well crafted 100% Agave Tequila.

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

CR:  If you are a woman who can bring something to the tequila industry and have a real passion for it then there are great opportunities as there are equally for men.

CleoRocos with Richard Branson enjoying the worlds best tequila AquaRiva copyMost people are not aware that women have a more sensitive and accurate palate than men.  It is a fact of nature.  Many more women are now top tasting and spirits profile experts throughout the wine and spirits industries.

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

CR:  The most important facet to change is to implement legislation demanding the clear labeling Mixed Tequila [mixto] as “MIXED” or even “Tequila FLAVOURED.”

Mixed tequila is generally only 51% agave tequila and not the “real deal.”

This lack of label clarity is highly confusing for the new consumer and detrimental to the tequila industry.

The experience of drinking “Mixed” Tequila is why most people think that they hate tequila.

It is unfair to the producers of 100% Agave brands to have to constantly battle to re-educate consumers due to this lack of label clarity.

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

CR:  Each brand obviously has their own marketing strategy.  We all know that good 100% agave tequila is to be sipped and enjoyed.

The versatility of this incredible (100% agave) spirit is having a profound influence on cocktails globally and is now the favourite spirit of top bartenders.

I do not agree with promoting rounds of inferior mixed tequila shots to CleoBarrelscustomers to shoot down in one go.  This gives Tequila a bad reputation.

I always warn against any drink having to be consumed ice cold or in one go.  No one needs to drink like that unless they are going to have a limb removed without an anesthetic.

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?

CR:  I have been very welcomed and totally embraced by the Tequila Industry.

I have created my own multi award winning brand, AquaRiva Tequila and I have only experienced good will and encouragement all the way.

If you have a true passion, a desire for knowledge and to work with this glorious spirit, there are no barriers.

I love working in this industry.  It’s crammed with enthusiastic people, family traditions and amazing characters.

Cleo_Bottling

The tequila industry is very much a way of life but not as you know 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!

NOM 199 Will Bring the Tequila & Mezcal Apocalypse

[This editorial (with my comments) is inspired by the following video on the dastardly NOM 199 currently in review in Mexico.  Please, take a few moments to view this easy-to-follow video, then, feel free to share it among your friends, family, colleagues and cohorts.

Afterwards, go here to sign the petition and unifying statement against NOM 199.]

¿Qué es la NOM199? / What is NOM199 from pedro jimenez gurria on Vimeo.

First, a Little History

In 2012, a Mexican legislation called NOM 186 was launched that would regulate any agave spirit.  It would have deprived many rights to small traditional and artisanal mezcal producers outside the Denomination of Origin of Tequila and Mezcal.

All other agave spirits would have been erroneously called “AGUA ARDIENTE de AGAVECEA.”

It would have also trademarked the word “AGAVE” to the Tequila Industry.

This would be like trying to trademark the word “grape.”

Imagine small winemakers not being able to say that their wine was made from grapes because they didn’t own the trademark, “grape?”

Dumb, huh?

Both these measures were driven by the Tequila Industry and the Mexican Ministry of Economy, among other institutions.

Through the efforts of those in the academic fields, hospitality (bars and restaurants), interested WORLD citizens with large social media followings, and those concerned about the fair regulation of what we eat and drink, this NOM was soundly defeated.

NOM 199: The Zombie of NOM 186!

Now, there’s a new initiative that’s designed to revive those previously rejected proposals.

It has been signed and endorsed by the Tequila Industry, the Regulatory Board of Mezcal, and other transnational corporations—and you know who they are!

This time, they aim to misinform you the consumer, about what you are drinking by renaming agave spirits outside of the Denomination of Origins of Tequila and Mezcal as “KOMIL.”

Ever hear of the term komil?

Me, neither.

Nobody has.

There are no cultural records or documents anywhere in Mexico that refer to an agave distillate by the term komil—

None.

It is based on a Nahuatl word (KOMILI) meaning, “intoxicant [inebriating] drink.”

If one of NOM 199’s very own passages is correct:

“The information printed on the labels of the bottles must be truthful and not induce confusion in the consumer as to the nature and characteristics of the product,” then…

They’re doing it all wrong.

If these distillates are forced to be labeled KOMIL and forbidden to use the word AGAVE, it will be more ambiguous and confusing to the consumer and he/she won’t be as informed as to what the drink is made from.

Komil could literally be eggnog like rompope, a tequila or mixto tequila, or any drink that intoxicates.

Currently, any mezcal outside of the Denomination of Origin cannot be termed Mezcal.  Instead it is referred to as “destilado de agave” (agave distillate) or “aguardiente de agave” (agave firewater).

That is already a huge commercial disadvantage.

If this legislation passes and becomes law, these spirits would be forced to label themselves as KOMILES [plural of KOMIL].

This would not only increase unfair competition and confuse the consumer, but would also deprive the basic human rights of those who preserve the tradition of making these distillates by calling them by their actual true name.

This proposed legislation is a cultural and labor dispossession, and an arbitrarily imposed term.

It is designed to wipe out or erase the cultural, historical and familial stories inherent in each beautiful and distinctive agave spirit.

 Consider it a form of genocide.

fb 199Imagine not ever being able to tell the story behind your grandmother’s favorite recipe for cookies or apple pie even though it’s been in your family for generations?

We agree that all alcoholic beverages need some sort of regulation because there are those unscrupulous producers whose beverages deceive and defraud consumers and threaten their health.

This is precisely why we demand consistent, detailed, inclusive, normas (laws) with not only an economic basis in mind, but with academic and bio-cultural, as well.

The spirit that each of these small producers make are derived by distilling AGAVE.

There’s no reason to lie and call it KOMIL.

Let’s call it what it is.

Stay informed and protect what’s yours—The National Heritage. #sellamamezcal  #NoKomil

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: Marie Sarita Gaytán

Sarita_book Ever wonder how Tequila got to be “The Spirit of Mexico?”

Dr. Marie Sarita Gaytán explains how in her landmark book, Tequila!  Distilling the Spirit of Mexico. 

While we’ve interviewed other Tequila Boss Ladies who have a hand in producing their own brands, this tequila and mezcal researcher, who is also an Associate Professor at the University of Utah, can explain how it came to be known as Mexico’s National Drink.

Besides, when it comes to Women In the Tequila Industry, she’s the one best suited to explain how Tequila actually became an industry.

Here, she gives us her responses to our customary handful of questions.  Afterwards, do yourself a favor and add her book to your tequila library.

***

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila/Mezcal Industries?

MSG:  I think that it’s important to note that, although a woman, I am not actually involved in these industries.  Instead, I’m a tequila and mezcal researcher, so my experiences are much different than those women who are navigating the business side of these trades.

What I can say, however, is that during the process of conducting fieldwork in Sarita_crop (2)Mexico for my book, industrialists, regulators, and tourism employees, both men and women, were generous with their time.

I approached the topic with sincere curiosity—I did not have a hypothesis to prove, I wanted to learn as much as I could, and folks were very open to sharing their experiences.

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

MSG:  What I have done is try to resituate the focus on tequila by paying attention to the people behind the product.

I am less interested in which tequila tastes best, or experimenting with the latest agave-based cocktail.

My work underscores how and why tequila emerged as Mexico’s drink—that is, my aim was to dig into the politics that created the conditions for tequila’s rise to fame within the nation.

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

SaritaMSG:  Women have always been working in the tequila industry.

What’s changed somewhat, is that now they are creating their own brands, starting their own companies.

As tequila and mezcal become more global, there is more room for the entrance of new actors, new competition.

Women are definitely making their mark as the market continues to widen.

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

MSG:  I am not especially impressed with the Tequila Regulatory Council’s close connection to the government, their support of the interests of transnational liquor conglomerates, and their myopic focus on profit.

Together with Sarah Bowen (from North Carolina State University), we’ve published several articles critiquing their politics—extralocal actors, in particular, multi-national companies—have more influence over the direction of the industry at the peril of small-scale agave farmers, local craftsmen/women, and the residents of Tequila.

This remains a critical problem, one that is not poised to change anytime soon.

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

I’ve never thought about this question as a matter of approval or disapproval, but what I will say, is that I’m very interested in seeing how tequila and mezcal branding unfolds in China.

What do producers think about Chinese consumers?  What will Chinese consumers be looking for when they purchase certain brands?  This is fascinating stuff.

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

MSG:  Continue to network and find a mentor, woman or man, to help you understand the nuances of the 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!

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!!