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.]

Women In The Tequila Industry: Elle France

From Babes to Boss Ladies: Women In The Tequila Industry: Elle France and Tanya Tucker https://amzn.to/2xAnHq2

 

Elle France, the creative mind behind Cosa Salvaje tequila, has spent the better part of her entrepreneurial  life bringing people together.

As a much sought after matchmaker, dating columnist and consultant, Elle is now making it her mission to help folks from all walks of life to fall in love with tequila, all over again.

France designed Cosa Salvaje (Wild Thing, in English) to be a flavorful, ultra-premium sipping tequila.

The liquid is encased in an attractive leather-laden bottle surrounded by enticing and seductive photos that demand attention from both sexes.

Elle’s vision in conceiving Cosa Salvaje was to promote a sense of nostalgia and excitement among tequila drinkers ready for a new experience.

A partnership with country music legend Tanya Tucker in mid-March 2019, ensures that Elle France and Cosa Salvaje will continue to bring even more people together to the pleasures of sipping tequila.

We welcome Elle France to our gallery of Tequila Boss Ladies with her answers to our short questionnaire.

***

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?)

EF:  It is definitely a man’s world, but for me that is where I am my best.  I never approached this from a woman’s point of view, just from a passion.  I work well with men, and I am eager to learn from them.  I feel like Tequila is made for a woman, the smell, the taste…… To me is very feminine and Sexy!

From Babes to Boss Ladies: Women In The Tequila Industry: Elle France and Tanya Tucker https://amzn.to/2xAnHq2

Not knowing anyone in the tequila industry and taking a leap of faith, from a girl who just loves to drink tequila.

My experiences with Mexico and the men, has been nothing but positive and inspiring.  Like everything in life, if you work hard, stay true to your vision you will eventually break through.  The people that I’ve met that have helped make this happen in Mexico which has now become family, have made this one of my most exciting adventures I have ever been on.

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

EF:  I am not sure I am there yet on changing things, more how the Tequila world has changed me. I do think that I am opening the doors for future entrepreneurs and showing them that it can be done. I am still on the cusp of this learning process myself. I am excited about the opportunity and to see where I can go.

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

EF:  I see the future for woman in the tequila industry as positive. I think woman have a good grasp on passion, building relationships and the true beauty of the creation of tequila.

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

 

EF:  Yes I love how the tequila industry is now marketing themselves. I think people are now starting to see whet Tequila is all about. Most people had a certain perception about Tequila, not really even knowing all the different tastes that it can have. Social media has made the world much more aware about the creation, the dedication and the passion in making Tequila.

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?

EF:  I think woman in general should not hold back, if you fall in love with your passion it will lead you to a great view of life.  Stay humble!

My ambition was to make sure that even non-tequila drinkers would enjoy it. I wanted to create a sipping tequila. My hope for people is to enjoy the passion and appreciate our hard work in producing a tequila that you needn’t mix it with anything. I was driven to harvest & create authentic tequila while emitting a lifestyle, which exceeds all other Ultra-Premium Tequilas.

My Vision with Cosa Salvaje is to bring people together with music, laughter, dancing (my favorite), good friends and a true love for tequila. My goal for people, when they see and touch Cosa Salvaje, is to have it immediately take them to that happy place where they want to be. As though you hear a song that your mind and body touches those memories, which recalls a special life’s moment. A recollection that provokes an instant high!

My partnership with Tanya Tucker I am very excited about. Tanya has a true love for Cosa Salvaje and will bring excitement to the brand!

***

From Babes to Boss Ladies: Women In The Tequila Industry: Elle France and Tanya Tucker https://amzn.to/2xAnHq2

Get Your Copy of the book From Babes to Boss Ladies

Available–

NOW!

 

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado

[On March 4, 2019, Founder Alex Perez was on hand at a special Tequila Mandala Dinner pairing that took place at famed restaurateur Jesse Gomez’s second Mercado location in Los Angeles, CA.  Here’s Alex’s report on that memorable evening.]

Foodie Heaven

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69PWhat do you get when you combine one of your favorite tequila’s with a top rated L.A. restaurant?  You get foodie heaven!

I had the privilege of visiting Mercado Los Angeles during their Tequila Mandala dinner recently, and I was thoroughly impressed.

In all transparency, my senses had already been excited with their exciting take on Mexican cuisine when Mercado opened a location in Pasadena, CA.

As for Tequila Mandala, this fine line is on my favorites list.

Put it all together, with both owners and the chef in attendance, and it was truly an experience.

For Starters

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

We were set up in a private area with some sixty guests who were anxious to get tasting.  Co-owner, Jesse Gomez appeared and welcomed all of us and got things going.

For starters, the attentive wait staff brought out jicama shrimp tacos.  Crispy breaded shrimp on a jicama tortilla with chile de arbol aioli and Mexican slaw that included bits of mango.

It was paired with the refreshingly tasty Tequila Mandala Blanco and was a perfect accompaniment withTequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P its notes of fresh citrus on the nose and sweet roasted agave on the palate.

Barbecue and Grown-up Cocktails

Next up was a beef rib, perfectly braised, with guajillo mustard BBQ sauce and BBQ potato chips as a garnish.

The beef rib was rich, smokey and melted in your mouth.  For the small portion that was served, it was very satisfying.  I wanted to pick up the bone and eat up the last piece stuck to it–so I did!

This dish was paired with a “Special Cocktail” served by the Mercado bar manager Caesar, and made with strawberry, pomegranate, Aperol and Tequila Mandala Blanco.

It tasted like a grown up’s Margarita.  I’ll be experimenting with this one in my own bar, for sure.

The plates kept coming and so did Jesse and Chef José Acevedo, catering to our needs.  Their service and attention to every detail was superb.

Childhood Memories

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

Next on deck was sope de chorizo con papas with cabbage, salsa de molcajete, crema fresca, tomatoes and cotija cheese.

The sope took me back to when I was a kid visiting family friends in Highland Park, CA.  His mom would make delicious handmade sopes.

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

 

I started with a knife and fork, then of course, I picked it up with my hands like it is supposed to be eaten.  And, the Mandala Reposado was PERFECT.

This is a great reposado and a good example of why I say reposados are making a comeback.  Wood and dried fruit on the nose, and the cooked agave still shines through on the palate.  Hints of oak, vanilla and coconut also make an appearance.

The Home Stretch

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69PAnother tasty offering from Mercado’s menu was roasted chicken on a bed of Mexican rice and mole Oaxaqueño topped with a crispy kale.  The nuttiness of the mole was complemented harmoniously by the Mandala Añejo.

This beautiful añejo has dried fruit, oak and vanilla on the nose and sweet dried raisin, oak and vanilla on the palate.  It’s an añejo that wants to be like its big brother Mandala Extra Añejo.

The Crown Jewel

Dessert was a chocolate Abuelita tres leches cake over berries and cajeta sauce drizzled on the plate.  My mouth is watering just writing this!

Paired with this decadent dish was Mandala’s crown jewel, the Extra Añejo.

In the glass, I smelled dried fruits and nuts along with hints of toasted oak.  On the palate, an explosion of honey, vanilla, dried raisins and wood notes.

It is addictive and dangerous.

At Your Service

Tequila Mandala Dinner at Mercado https://wp.me/p3u1xi-69P

The hospitality at this Mercado and Mandala event was fantastic.

Co-owners Jesse Gomez and Chef José Acevedo and staff came around to every table making sure all our needs were met.  I experienced the same great service and attention to detail at the Pasadena location, too.

Humberto Ibarra, one of the owners and importers for Mandala, and brand manager Moises Rivera, were on hand and visited every table and guest, preaching the Mandala gospel.

I died and went to Foodie Heaven.

But, I’ll be back!

Mansplaining Revel Spirits Avila

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

Pulque, Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol and Bacanora.

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

Avila.

What the hell is it?

Glad you asked.

Get Acquainted with Avila

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

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

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

Why Haven’t We Heard of Avila Before?

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

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

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

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

Giving Back at The Ranch

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

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

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

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

Favorite Pairing

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

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

Enjoy!

Tequila Aficionado Highlights 2018 with the Brands of Promise© Awards

Female Master Distillers Dominate in Distinct

Agave Spirits Categories

 For Immediate release!

Tequila Aficionado Media 2018 Brands of Promise© Awards

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

What a Year!

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

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

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

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

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

Boss Ladies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Innovators

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

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

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

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

About the Brands of Promise©–Changing the Game

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

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

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

###

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

Review of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico

Review of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5Q1There are too many fascinating facets to Marie Sarita Gaytan’s book, Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico.

Gaytan takes the reader on a sweeping journey of Aztec myths and legends, pre-and post colonial occupation; from the Mexican Revolution to Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema, all the way up to 2014, the date of the book’s publication.

Written in an academic-style format, complete with footnotes and references, one realizes the scope of Gaytan’s daunting undertaking–

Detailing tequila’s trajectory from a drink just for “country people” to the spirit of a nation.

In every epoch explored, the author pinpoints where tequila (and pulque and mezcal) fit into the overall image of lo mexicano—what Ms. Gaytan refers to as “an idea, a sensibility, and the fiction that there exists a collective, unified Mexican national consciousness. The notion that there is one true way of being Mexican….”

Some of the memorable highlights exposed are:

–Pulque was seen as “associated with native identity and urban unrest” and “made it an unlikely contender to symbolize the modernizing [Mexican] nation.”

–Likewise, mezcal was seen as lacking the “symbolic capital” necessary to represent Mexico.

–Pancho Villa’s reputation as a violent bandit fueled by excessively drinking tequila was actually an image made up by the American Media, most notably, the Los Angeles Times, which arguably may have cost him his life.

–Mexican cinema (1936-1969), and its popular charro icons like Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante, managed to indelibly imprint “macho” images and gender roles between men and women. Yet, there were a handful of women on screen, as well as on stage and in radio, who at the time successfully pushed the limits of these gender roles.

–The jimador, the Aztec goddess Mayahuel, and even the Virgen de Guadalupe have each been used to “portray Mexico as a simultaneously modern, unified and prestigiously prehistoric,” as well as, “…fostering the perception of a nostalgic indigenous past [that] is crucial for appearing to unite the population under a single—and easily commodified—Mexican identity.”

–Mexican state and federal officials, executives of transnational tequila companies, and the tourism industry help to fashion tequila as “…a vital and vibrant symbol of the nation.”

–Through the use of programs like the Distintivo T and others, individuals are recruited to “demonstrate their commitment not only to tequila but to the nation [of Mexico] itself.”

The most intriguing section of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico, is by far the interviews Ms. Gaytan conducted with several individuals that examined consumers’ drinking traditions on both sides of the border.

Considering the current political climate between the United States and Mexico, and the present uncertainty surrounding NAFTA, the outcomes of these interviews prove to be culturally enlightening.

Here’s a hint…

Take a look at the substantial footnotes and references listed at the end of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico. You are sure to come across several books and published papers that you might feel compelled to investigate yourself.

Among them are several solid resources from Ana Valenzuela Zapata, Sarah Bowen, and Ms. Gaytan herself, who have each been featured on Tequila Aficionado’s Women in The Tequila Industry series.

Our apologies to Ms. Gaytan for being so tardy in insisting that every student of tequila, and lover of Mexico, should include this extremely important book in your personal reference libraries.

Tequila!  Distilling the Spirit of Mexico is available at Amazon.com and other booksellers in both ebook and hardcopy.

Women In The Bacanora Industry: Adriana Torres

Women In The Bacanora Industry: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5OU

We first encountered Adriana Torres through Novel Spirits Collection, the US importer of her flagship bacanora brand, Pascola Bacanora.

The more we heard about her from Connie and Mel Abert, the owners of Novel Spirits, the more intrigued we became with her background.

You can read about her herculean efforts to revitalize Sonora, Mexico’s once thriving bacanora industry in her own words here.

Launching what we hope to be the first in a long list of Bacanora Boss Ladies, we induct Adriana Torres into our gallery of Women In the Tequila/Mezcal/Bacanora Industry series.

What follows are her answers to our customary handful of questions.

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

***

 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/Bacanora Industries?)

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

AT:  My experiences were difficult, primarily because when we began, we were the first to formalize a female owned company in the bacanora industry.

But, truthfully, in all this time, I’ve received lots of support from great men in the industry.

Women In The Bacanora Industry: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5OU

(Dificiles, principalmente porque cuando yo inicie en la industria del Bacanora, fuimos de las primeras en formalizarnos y era de mujeres.

Pero la verdad he que en todo este tiempo he recibido muchísimo apoyo por parte de grandes hombres relacionados con la industria.)

TA:  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?)

AT:  The truth is, just doing the work.

Doing things right and being loyal to our principles and values.  Being consistent in what we say and do.

And, above all else, taking care of the little details.

(La verdad, solo con trabajo, haciendo las cosas bien y siendo leal a nuestros principios y valores. Ser coherentes en lo que se dice y se hace, y sobre todo cuidando los pequeños detalles.)

 TA:  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?)

AT:  We’re growing.

It’s been 12 years since I became involved in this industry and my company was the only one that considered [employed] women.

Over time, many more businesses have incorporated women intoWomen In The Bacanora Industry: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5OU their processes [like] wives and daughters, as well as contracting women in the areas of design, management and sales.

We ourselves will be working with female vinateras (bacanora distillers).  The wife of one of our producers will begin to distill one of our own brands.

(Vamos en crecimiento, hace 12 años que me incorpore a esta industria mi empresa era la única que consideraba mujeres, al paso del tiempo varias de las empresas han ido incorporando mujeres dentro de sus procesos, a las esposas, las hijas, contratando mujeres en el área de diseño, gestión y ventas.

Incluso nosotras empezaremos a trabajar con mujeres vinateras, la esposa de uno de nuestros productores empezara a producir una de nuestras marcas.)

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

(¿Qué cosas gustaría cambiado? )

AT:  To stop looking at the [bacanora] industry as just another source for profits.

We should value what the industry really stands for.

That bacanora won’t become like tequila or mezcal, but continues being an exclusive product, based on supply and not demand.

That bacanora truly becomes a driving force for the economy, the environment, and the culture of Sonora, Mexico and the world.

That is what we are striving for.

(Dejar de ver la industria como una Fuente de ingresos unicamente, valorar todo lo que la industria realmente representa, que el Bacanora no sea como el tequila ni el mescal, que siga siendo un product exclusivo, basado en la oferta y no la demanda, que realmente el bacanora se convierta en un motor de la economia, medio ambiente y cultura de Sonora, Mexico y el mundo.

Nosotros en eso estamos trabajando.)

TA:  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?)

AT:  Of course!

They are ancestral distillates that represent us.  They are spirits with the flavor of Mexico from distinct regions of the country.

We must preserve the tradition.

(Claro, son destilados ancestrales, que nos representan. Son bebidas espirituosas con sabor a Mexico, de las distintas regiones del país.

Necesitamos conservar la tradicion.)

TA:  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?)

AT:  We need to work in a united way.  We should care for the tradition, history, and culture of Sonora.

We should guarantee quality products, and motivate our producers to make their products like we care for our families.

Bacanora is a noble spirit.  It is a product that would allow us to recuperate many lost aspects in our state, from social, cultural, economic and environmental.

I invite them to conscientiously participate in the development of the industry.  That Bacanora achieves for Sonora what Tequila is for Jalisco, and Mezcal is for Oaxaca.

Women In The Bacanora Industry: Adriana Torres https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5OU

(Necesitamos trabajar de manera unida, debemos cuidar la tradición, la historia y la cultura de Sonora. Debemos garantizar productos de calidad, debemos motivar a nuestros productores a que realicen su producto como nosotras cuidamos a nuestras familias. El bacanora es un producto noble, un producto que nos puede permitir recuperar muchos aspectos perdidos en nuestro estado, desde aspectos sociales, culturales, económicos como los de medio ambiente.

Las invito a participar de una manera consiente en el desarrollo de la industria, lograr que el Bacanora se convierta para Sonora, en lo que el Tequila es para Jalisco y el Mezcal para Oaxaca.)

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.

 

Tequila Aficionado: Where It All Began

In the Beginning, There Was Only Audio

Tequila Aficionado: Where It All Began https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5Gt

On October 27, 2017, Tequila Aficionado Media celebrated its 18th anniversary with an invitation-only VIP tasting at the site of the very first Sipping Off The Cuff© podcast

The iconic El Cholo Cafe in Pasadena, California.

As the crowning jewel of 2017’s Wild Wild West Tour, El Cholo Cafe itself was commemorating its 94th year serving authentic Mexican cuisine to Southern California.

For those who attended, the 2017 Editions of both anniversaries was indeed magical.

We’ll be back once again in 2018 as our last stop on the Great Festival Chase Tour.

A Celebratory Audio Podcast

During a short lull in the action, Tequila Aficionado’s Founder Alex Perez, and CEO Mike Morales, took a moment or two to catch their breath and to reflect on the nearly twenty years of honest, authentic tequila and agave spirits news and reviews.

Growing with The Internet

We often say that Tequila Aficionado has grown parallel to the Internet.

For instance, in the early days, most all of our reviews were audio only.  Later, with the creation of YouTube, Tequila Aficionado moved to strictly video reviews on its own channel.

To date, we have over 500 video reviews, with new ones being added weekly.

The Resurgence of Audio

As the Internet continues to evolve, it seems that certain thingsTequila Aficionado: Where It All Began https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5Gt never really die.  Audio podcasting has been reinvented and is even more popular than ever.

Whether using an elaborate set up, or simply pressing the button on the voice recording function of a smart phone, anyone can establish their own podcast channel.

The advances in software have allowed us to pull the audio from our Sipping Off The Cuff(c) episodes and to upload them to our BlogTalk Radio channel.

Multi-tasking is a way of life these days, but now you can take us with you wherever you go–

To the gym, on the way to work, to the local bar, or even to your neighborhood liquor store.

“Alexa, play Tequila Aficionado podcast”

Another easier way to stay up-to-date on the latest Sipping Off The Cuff(c) episode of your favorite tequila, mezcal or agave spirit, is to tell your virtual assistant, Amazon Alexa, to play it for you.

Tequila Aficionado: Where It All Began https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5Gt

Simply repeat the above command and–BAM!–Alexa will play the latest Sipping Off The Cuff(c) review for you.  If you’ve missed earlier episodes, just ask Alexa to play the previous review, and so on.

[Note:  BlogTalk Radio inserts short commercial breaks into the audio.  A radio aggregator then picks up the audio tracks and feeds them to Alexa, however, the ads are blacked out.  Please disregard the intermittent “dead air,” and keep listening to the end of each episode.]

Hey, nothing’s perfect, but…

We have come a long way from handheld tape recorders, microphones and tequila glasses.

Men In Tequila: Martin Grassl Speaks Out

International Man of Mystery

Men In Tequila: Martin Grassl Speaks Out https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5GrThroughout his checkered career in the Tequila world and beyond, Porfidio’s Martin Grassl has been largely viewed by the general public as an “international man of mystery.”

Disrupting a Mexican Tequila Industry that doesn’t take kindly to outsiders telling it how to make its own emblematic spirit, Grassl’s vintages of tequila in the iconic cactus bottle has been sought after, stashed and horded by collectors for its unique flavors and aromas.

In hindsight, one could argue that since 1991, Grassl had single-handedly established what is now the fastest growing segment of the Tequila market–

The Super-Premium category.

Grassl’s Reinvention

Now, along with Desmond Nazareth, an Indian-American computer whiz of Silicon Valley fame, and originator of DesmondJi Premium Spirits, Liqueurs and Cocktails, he has reinvented himself, again.

Men In Tequila: Martin Grassl Speaks Out https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5Gr

Single Agave(R) 100% Agave Americana Edition (S3xA) is one of a series of three planned releases by Grassl using different agave plants cultivated in different countries.  This one, a joint venture with Nazareth, is harvested and distilled entirely in India.

Bane or blessing, innovator or interloper, prophet or pariah, Profidio’s Martin Grassl has been perceived as all of these, and more.

In the next few paragraphs, Martin Grassl–in his own words–discusses his global views about the future of agave spirits.

Marching Forward

History moves forward.  Agave spirits are going international.

It happened to the Europeans in the wine industry: no one could stop grapes travelling!

When California and Australia, not to mention Chile and Argentina, joined the premium wine world half a century ago, initially it drove the French in Bordeaux crazy.  But over decades, it made important contributions to California’s and Australia’s economy and provided a much respected delightful alternative enjoyment for consumers.

Men In Tequila: Martin Grassl Speaks Out https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5Gr

Today, both Australia and California, not to mention Chile and Argentina, are wine superpowers, equivalent, if not superior to, their European ancestors.

How dreary the world would be with only French wines!

Single-Agave® 100% Agave Americana

Single-Agave® 100% Agave Americana, an agave spirit proudly made in India from 100% Indian-grown mezcal [agave] pinas, is history on the march.

Men In Tequila: Martin Grassl Speaks Out https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5Gr

It is the first in a Porfidio-initiated series of international single-varietal agave spirits; soon to be followed by the second release, a single variety agave spirit from Venezuela (100% Agave Cocuy).

Cultural (Mis-)appropriation

The CRT’s recent national press campaign in Mexico honored the Indian agave spirit with full page articles in every major newspaper, but was typically inaccurate.

Contrary to its spurious claims, “agave” is a botanical term like the word “grape,” or “barley” and, like them, cannot be claimed under  A.C. status (A.C = D.O.) [Denomination of Origin].

Click to read PDF

It is as if Peru tried to trademark “potato.”  

The plant’s original name, Mezcal, is the name Mexicans used, and the term “Agave” was invented by a Swedish botanist based on the observations of a German researcher.

So the allegations of cultural (mis-)appropriation make hardly any sense, since if equally applied on both sides, the Old World could claim property in the origins of the donkey, distillation, stainless steel, invention of electricity, and indeed, to the very oak barrels, all of which were “(mis-)appropriated” by Mexico from abroad, and without which tequila would have hardly existed.

The Colombian Exchange

The key concept is “The Colombian Exchange” which brought horses, donkeys, wheat, stills and oak barrels to the Americas in return for the potato, corn, tobacco and agave that went to the rest of the world.

We should not forget the royal role of Queen Victoria, who so greatly continued Columbus’s work across her Empire when the British planted agave in all her various dominions where it would grow.

Some claim that this product was created as a response to the present Blue Agave shortage in Mexico. However, Single-Agave®100% Agave Americana is not made from the Blue Agave, but Mezcal Americana, a different variety of agave that is indeed used to make Mezcal, but not Tequila®, under the CRT’s own rigorous definition.

 

Bored Consumers

Men In Tequila: Martin Grassl Speaks Out https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5Gr

More importantly there are signs that consumers are actually bored with the limited palate of the Blue Agave, which is, after all, the dull chardonnay of agave spirits.

They are ready to move on to other agave varietals–

“Vino de Mezcal,” the new darling of agave spirits lovers.

Made in India, Single-Agave®100% Agave Americana, caters precisely to these bored consumers who expect more from life than just another boring chardonnay; and let alone just another 100% Agave Tequila® made from cloned plantation-grown Blue Agave.