Get on the Mike with Mike!


We’re currently scheduling video auditions/interviews.  We have a big season coming up in 2017 and need a whole team of reviewers to co-host Sipping Off the Cuff.  

If you would work for tequila and want to learn more about tequila, mezcal, sotol, or other agave spirits on the job, we want to hear from you!

Fill out the form below and we’ll get you scheduled for an audition! 


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Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams are few books on the subject of Tequila that are considered classics.  The Book Of Tequila by the late, great Bob Emmons, stands out as the most essential for any student of agave spirits.

I consider Emmons the first, true Tequila Journalist.  He was the first American author to demystify the much maligned Mexican tipple, and give it its rightful place among other elite sipping spirits.

Even posthumously, Emmons’ tome is so sought after that it is almost impossible to buy in paperback, let alone in hardcover.  Obtaining a used copy, in any condition, is like discovering a treasure bottle of Porfidio Barrique, and just as pricey.

Ian Williams’ Tequila:  A Global History, is not that kind of book–

But it could be.

What’s Left?

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams

To say that Emmons volume was ahead of its time goes without saying.

Chock-full of such useful information as addresses of the then existing distilleries, to the history of tequila, and even drinks recipes, Emmons covered it all.

So, what’s left to report?


The Rest of The Story

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams
The late Bob Emmons.

Since the first printing of Emmons’ book in April 1997,  coinciding with the bilateral agreement between Mexico and the European Union that recognized tequila’s and mezcal’s denominations of origin a month later,  the Tequila Industry has boomed and busted at least twice, maybe even three or four times.

And Agave Spirits, in general, has zoomed to the forefront of every mixology menu riding the wave of an unprecedented global cocktail craze.

That’s where  Williams’ Tequila:  A Global History steps in.

Have A Drink!

Sadly, Emmons is no longer on this earthly plane to have a drink with and to discuss the dawning of the growth of the Tequila Industry.  Ian Williams, on the other hand, is alive and well and free for a drink!

[Tweet “@deadlinepundit embodies the voice and narrative of Tequila: A Global History.”]

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams
Ian Williams, author of Tequila: A Global History.

We asked Ian to join us on Open Bar to discuss Tequila:  A  Global History.  You can view that episode here or read on.

A wordsmith of the most delightful kind, the affable Williams literally embodies the voice and narrative of his book.  With a sly smile and a gleam in his eye, this witty Brit kept us in stitches, sumptuously entertaining us with his tequila and mezcal travel tales.

Something For Everyone

His information isn’t just historically priceless (his interview with the controversial pariah Martin Grassl, innovator of Porfidio tequila, alone is

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams
Porfidio Barrique

worth the purchase price), but also timely.

Williams deftly discusses the contentious implications of the recently tabled NOM 199 facing the Mezcal Industry and explains the true meanings of the newest designations (ancestral, traditional, artisanal, and industrial) that marketers have diluted into buzzwords to drive the craft spirits sensation.

He skillfully weaves the known Mayan, Olmec and Aztec chronology with current archaeological discoveries of Asian influenced distillation methods that stand to rewrite that history and the part played by the Spanish conquistadors.

And for Millennials seeking to educate themselves, Williams tackles sustainability issues, organic agave spirits, premiumization in the agave spirits market, and the sexiness of the agave plant itself.  Even photos and cocktail recipes are included.

Mr. Williams does all this while craftily drawing parallels and similarities from his whisk(e)y, scotch and rum experiences (see Rum:  A Social and Sociable History) as well as touching on other Mexican spirits like sotol and bacanora.

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams

If Bob Emmons’ quintessential primer is considered The Greatest Tequila Story Ever Told, then Ian Williams’ Tequila:  A Global History, could be its worthy sequel in a continuing agave saga.

[Tweet “@deadlinepundit’s Tequila: A Global History, a worthy sequel in a continuing agave saga.”]


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Mike Morales’ Puerco Pibil Recipe with Soltado Tequila

[Soltado Tequila was a paid sponsor of the Tequila Aficionado Heartland Tour and paid a nominal fee to be mentioned here and on our networks as we saw fit.  In the interest of full disclosure, we didn’t want to love Soltado but we do.  It makes an amazing Puerco Pibil.] 

Sharing this recipe could get Mike killed. Luckily, Johnny Depp is too busy restoring the balance to other countries while things get crazy up in the Tequila Aficionado kitchen.


[Tweet “This recipe for Puerco Pibil with @soltadotequila is so good it could get you killed!”]

Mike Morales Makes Puerco Pibil with Soltado Tequila Pibil Recipe


  • 5lbs Pork Butt
  • ½ Cup White Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Lemon Juice
  • ½ Cup Orange Juice
  • 5 Tabespoons Ground Annato (Achiote)
  • 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • ½ Teaspoon Allspice
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 2 Habanero Peppers, sliced
  • Healthy splash of Soltado Tequila


  • Line a 3 quart crock pot with banana leaves.
  • Place pork on the banana leaves in the bottom of the crock pot.
  • Add all other ingredients.
  • Fold banana leaves over the pork & liquids.
  • Cover with crock pot cover.
  • Cook on High for 4 hours.

[Tweet “Get Mike Morales’ Puerco Pibil Recipe made with @soltadotequila”]


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Pepe Z: The Mad Man of Tequila

Pepe Z: The Mad Man of Tequila’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
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
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
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 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
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

[Tweet “@PepeZTequila: Distinguished flavor, devoted friendship and defined values.”]

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.”

[Tweet “@PepeZTequila says “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
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.”

[Tweet “@PepeZTequila says, “My customers are part of the Z family.””]


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Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual

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

Let’s Review…

Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual Part 1, Embajador Tequila:  Rectifying The Situation, we listed all the minor infractions that the distillery, Fabrica Santa Rosa, was charged with by COFEPRIS (Comisión Federál para la Protección contra Reisgos Sanitarios) and SAT (Servicio de Admistración Tributaria).

We also brought to light the fact that every breach was addressed within hours, and that the real delay of lifting the ban on the Embajador distillery’s operations was the bureaucratic read tape surrounding the method of documenting and tracking of raw materials and supplies.

Before we tackle this topic, however, a word about the yellow journalism popular with Mexican news agencies.

Scraping A Dead Horse

The phrase “beating a dead horse” is often used when the same story is repeated over and over again, until the subject matter becomes tiresome.

Scraping is a term used by copywriters when expounding on a press release Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual is distributed to several news agencies at once.  It’s extracting pertinent information from the news release or website, sometimes copied word-for-word, without proper credit given to the original source material.

In essence, it’s stealing (plagiarism), but, it helps to keep the topic fresh and different from the rest of the reports seen on other news channels.

Making matters worse, name any reputable producer allegedly busted during COFEPRIS’ and SAT’s “Juntos Contra la Ilegalidad” (“Together Against Illegality”) blitzkrieg, and they are instantly guilty by association.

While there are many honorable news writers in Mexico (many having lost their lives, especially those reporting on narco trafficking activities), most Mexican newspapers are tabloids using this archaic, unethical and unprofessional style of reporting.

The more controversial the titles and the more alarming the descriptions, the more the reader feels like an actual eyewitness to the alleged crime, and, the more newspapers are sold.

It resulted in sensational headlines for the copywriters who, chances are, had never even set foot onto a tequila distillery, and high fives all around for COFEPRIS and SAT.

Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual

No one at the Fabrica Santa Rosa denies that they were guilty of the minor infractions they had been charged with, but, in reviewing the aforementioned articles in Part 1, you’d think the Untouchables had just captured Al Capone for tax evasion.

In true Elliot Ness fashion, there was a loophole.

But, it’s wasn’t what you thought.

The Loophole

Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual

Imagine driving across the state line and being immediately pulled over by a state trooper.  When he asks you for your home state’s current registration, the smokey takes one look at your paperwork and tells you that your registration is not legally recognized by his state’s laws.  He then impounds your car until you can prove that your registration is legal.

[Tweet “@EmbajadorTquila Goes On the Record.”]

That’s exactly what happened to Tequila Embajador.

Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual

After a mound of paperwork providing and proving their procedural accurateness, converting to the more approved methods of record keeping–ninety days later–the ban on Fabrica Santa Rosa was lifted and it’s back to business as usual.

Embajador Tequila Goes On The Record

In this snippet, Licenciado Cristobal Morales Hernández introduces himself as the legal representative for Tequila Embajador and the Fabrica Santa Rosa.

Lic. Morales explains that while Embajador has never suffered infractions due to the wholesomeness and quality of their tequila (in other words, it has never produced illegal tequila), the main problem was in providing proper documentation as per the normas.

[Tweet “The @EmbajadorTquila distillery was sealed but product was never destroyed”]

Morales goes on to describe that what the authorities actually did was to seal the distillery and the remaining tanks and barrels of tequila, but the product was never destroyed as is customary for the aforementioned government agencies to do during their “Juntos Contra la Ilegalidad” offensive.

The distillery was allowed to finish elaborating the tequila in all its various stages of production until the matter of the paperwork documentation was in compliance with the normas.

Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual
Lic. Cristobal Morales with flagship tequilas, El General, Embajador and Jalisciense.

They were not allowed to truck out finished product, however, or to receive more harvested agave until that matter was resolved.  These same conditions were enforced on all of their contracted brands, as well.

In fact, even though the method of paperwork was not in keeping with the two agencies’ guidelines, paperwork DID exist making every step of Embajador’s tequila making process traceable to the very last agave plant and liter of tequila.

Lesson Learned

Cristobal asserts that in the 90 days of the plant’s closure, the company not only met the requirements of the agencies, but exceeded their expectations throughout the distillery, particularly concentrating in the fermentation, distillation and warehouse sections of the fabrica.

Lic. Morales admits that while the agencies’ reaction to the minor infractions were considered harsh, the situation served as a wake up call to step up their game on all levels of each department to stay on par with their indisputable high quality.


In the next segment, Embajador Tequila showcases its Framework for The Future.

[Tweet “The @EmbajadorTquila distillery is not only back in business, they’ve got BIG future plans.”]


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Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation

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

[Tweet “Remember our Bullying in Tequila article? It’s BACK!”]

The Situation

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

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

[Tweet “Family-Owned Distillery makes Alma de Agave, Crótalo, Cabresto, & Embajador #Tequila.”]

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

Things Don’t Add Up

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

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

[Tweet “Honesty is the best policy in life and in #Tequila”]

The “Violations”

Let’s get right down to brass tacks.

According to the initial Chinese report–

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation
New log book and safety signs.

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

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

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

In this news release from Mexico

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

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

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

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

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

In this incendiary report from El Financiero

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation
New delineation of departments.

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

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

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

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

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation
New department signs.

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

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

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

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation
Protection and delineation.

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

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

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

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

And, from this blatant smear campaign–

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation
More coverage and delineation.

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

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

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

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

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation
Barrels naturally protect against…birds.

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

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

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

The Rest of The Story

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

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

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

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

Two reasons–

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation

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



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



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National Tequila Day – The Struggle is Real

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

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

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

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

It’s dead.

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

Thank you for your support!

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

[Tweet “Sip wisely this National Tequila Day! “]

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

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

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

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

Está muerto.

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

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

Gracias por su apoyo!

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

[Tweet “Tomar sabiamente este día nacional del Tequila”]

National Tequila Day - The Struggle is Real


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Tequila Marketing Happy Talk

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

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

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

Let’s Review

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

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

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

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

Think Like a Marketer

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

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

Want to think like a marketer?

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

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


A Stroll Down the Tequila Aisle

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

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

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

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

Would I buy this tequila?

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

Value, Premium, High End Premium and Super Premium.

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

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

Falling For Marketing Happy Talk

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

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

Premiumisation.  How’s that for a buzzword?

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

Put another way–

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

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

[Tweet “We all fall for #TequilaMarketingHappyTalk”]

Go ahead…

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



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: Melly Barajas

SinoMellyWhen Judy Rivera sought to make her own brand of tequila, she was determined to find a master distiller whose views and outlook were similar to hers.  It wasn’t long before she found Carmen Lucia Barajas Cárdenas–“Melly” to her friends–and Sino Tequila was born.

Melly Barajas always intended to be a Tequila Boss Lady.  After years of apprenticeship in the male dominated Tequila Industry, she purchased land in the highlands of Jalisco called Valle de Guadalupe and constructed her own distillery, Vinos y Licores Azteca (NOM 1533).

She resolved to hire only women from the rural area and to teach them all she knew, from operating fermentation tanks to bottling and more.  She also established a learning center and living quarters at the distillery for her all female staff.

SinoDistillery outer

Melly has become a force to be reckoned with, tackling the Tequila Industry on her own terms.  Here’s what she had to say in response to our customary 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 Industry?)

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

MB:  Fascinating!

It’s a world filled with constant challenges, where you have to work a lot and assert yourself.  Where you have to demonstrate that your sex doesn’t matter, Sino_pinas 2and instead, do things right and always move forward to improve yourself every day.

It’s a place where you find many helpful circumstances and others that are difficult obstacles that force you to struggle each day and to not give up.

It’s work that changes your life.  There’s always new things, new people, new experiences, new challenges.  The key is to wake up each day ready to relish whatever comes up.


Es un mundo lleno de retos constantes, donde tienes que trabajar mucho y hacerte valer, donde debes demostrar que el sexo no importa sino hacer las cosas bien y siempre estar en movimiento y superarte tratando de ser cada dia mejor.

Es un espacio donde encuentras muchas manos amigas y otras manos duras que te retan y así te obligan a estar luchando cada dia  y no darte por vencida.

[Tweet “Tequila: It’s work that changes your life. #MellyBarajas @SinoTequila”]

Es un trabajo que conviertes en tu vida. Siempre hay cosas nuevas, gente nueva, experiencias nuevas, retos nuevos, la clave es levantarte todos los días lista para disfrutar lo que venga)

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

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

SinoSMB:   Hmmm.  Realistically, I’m not sure I’ve changed anything in the industry.

What I can say is that we’ve changed the lives of many women in the town where the distillery is located in Valle de Guadalupe, Jalisco.

Well, in the factory, besides teaching them how to make very good tequila, we’ve taught them that because we’re women, we are limited by NOTHING.

On the contrary!

In the factory, we do all types of jobs that perhaps have been labeled men’s work because it requires more physical strength than what we ladies have, but, by our astuteness that defines us, we develop skills and invent things to do our jobs equally as well as gentlemen.

Besides, when they demonstrate [to themselves] that they can do things that they’ve never even dreamed of, and that they can do so wondrously, they take that lesson into their daily lives and it changes their manner of thinking and they begin to forget their physical restrictions because women’s limitations exist only in their minds.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but the difficulty makes all the difference and the fun.

(Mmmm, realmente no se si he cambiado algo de la industria.

Lo que si te puedo decir que hemos cambiado la vida de muchas mujeres en el pueblo donde esta la tequilera en Valle de Guadalupe Jalisco.

SinoCrusher 2

Pues en la fabrica ademas de enseñarles hacer muy buen tequila, se les ha enseñado de no por “ser mujeres” estamos limitadas a NADA,

Al contrario !!!

En la fabrica se hacen todo tipo de trabajo, que tal vez se etiquetan como trabajo de hombres por que requieren de mas fuerza que las que tenemos las damas, pero con la astucia que nos distingue hacemos mañas e inventamos cosas para hacerlas igual de bien que los caballeros.

[Tweet “Hemos cambiado la vida de muchas mujeres en el pueblo #MellyBarajas @SinoTequila”]

Ademas cuando les demuestras que pueden hacer cosas que ni en sueños pensaron que pudieran hacer, y lo pueden hacer de maravilla, este aprendizaje lo llevan a su vida diaria y cambia su modo de pensar y empiezan a olvidar sus ” disque limitaciones ” por que las limitaciones de las mujeres solo están en su cabeza.

No digo que sea fácil, pero lo difícil hace la diferencia y lo divertido.)

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

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

MB:  The future of women in Tequila has arrived!

Our tequilas say it all:  The feminine touch on tequila is its magic, its heart, and its soul.

In tequilas made by women, or with women’s help, a little piece of their hearts travels to all parts of the world.


Since every day more women are working, it is this medium that has begun to be an important source of employment in the tequila [making/growing] regions.

(El futuro de las mujeres en el Tequila ha llegado!!!

Nuestros tequilas lo dicen todo, el toque femenino en el tequila es la magia, es el corazon, es su alma.

En los tequilas que hacen las mujeres, o con ayuda de mujeres se va un pedacito de su corazon a todas partes del mundo.

Ya que cada dia mas mujeres trabajan es este medio que ha empezado hacer una fuente de trabajo importante en las zonas tequileras.)

TA:  What facets of the Tequila Industry would you like to see change?elcondeazul-blanco_6237_r2

(Qué cosas gustaría cambiado?)

MB:  Everything has its time and takes its course.

I believe that doing things right and demonstrating to the world the value of women in our beverage [tequila] industry is on a sure path.

(Todo lleva su tiempo y su curso.

Creo que el hacer las cosas bien y demostrarle al mundo el valor de las mujeres en nuestra bebida va por buen camino.)

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

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

MB:  That’s an interesting question.

I’d like all tequila to be [made of] 100% Agave Azul Tequilana Weber so that it could only be from the juice of this miraculous plant with all its properties.

There is a reason that the ancient Aztecs made offerings of this elixir to the gods and it was only imbibed by priests.

(Es interesante tu pregunta.

Yo quisiera que todo el tequila fuera solo 100% de Agave Azul Tequilana Weber, para que fuera solo jugo de esta planta maravillosa con todas sus propiedades.

[Tweet “El futuro de las mujeres en el Tequila ha llegado! #MellyBarajas @SinoTequila”]

No por nada los Aztecas ofrecían este elixir a los Dioses y solo era bebido en la antigüedad por los sacerdotes.)

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?

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

ToroAzulMellyMB:  Of course.

I’d like to tell them that to sell tequila isn’t just selling a beverage, it’s giving the client an opportunity to get acquainted with this delicious and ancient beverage that was offered to the gods.  It’s giving them the chance to savor a beautiful history, a lovely dream, a small piece of Mexico.

To remember that inside every bottle go the thrills, the efforts and the hopes of a town that is proudly Mexican.

The sky’s the limit.



Yo quisiera decirles que el vender tequila no solo es vender una bebida, es darle al cliente la oportunidad de conocer la deliciosa bebida milenaria que era ofrecida a los Dioses, darles la experiencia de paladear una bella historia, un bello sueño, un pedacito de Mexico.

Que recuerden que en cada botella va la ilusión, el esfuerzo y la esperanza de todo un pueblo orgullosos de ser Mexicanos.

Que su limite sea el cielo.


[Tweet “Inside every bottle go the thrills, efforts, and hopes of a town that is proudly Mexican.”]


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: Judy Rivera

sinoJudy Rivera, the latest Tequila Boss Lady to join our gallery, has figured out how to combine acute LA street smarts, a fearless entrepreneurial spirit, and artistic ingenuity into her Sino Tequila brand.

A staunch women’s rights advocate, Judy contracted with a small, 100% female owned and operated distillery in the highlands of Jalisco–Vinos y Licores Azteca (NOM 1533).  Its Maestra Tequilera, Melly Barajas Cárdenas, oversees Sino’s distinctive flavor profiles, as well.

Successfully launching Sino in late 2009, Judy is an avid supporter of notable street artists, and even donates $1.00 of every bottle sold to non profit organizations that benefit artists, galleries and art programs across the country.

Finally, Rivera owes her boundless energy and work ethic to her father, and even shares her grandfather’s message as the basis of Sino’s name, below.


Read on as Judy tackles our standard handful of preguntas (questions).


[Tweet “Education over bullying is always a better result in #tequila @sinotequila”]

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?)

JR:  Thinking through my entire experience since launching Sino Tequila atSinoBottle the end of 2009 until now, I really believe being a woman in the industry has garnered a lot of support for my Brand and my Mission, especially from the bar and restaurant side of things.

There have been some interesting times during the first couple of years bringing Sino to a distributor and getting a lot of “Are you the sales rep?” type of questions.

I would of course answer, “Yes, the sales rep, the accountant, the marketing agency and the owner!”

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

JR:  Well, I think if nothing else it opens everyone’s mind that you don’t need to be a millionaire to make great tequila.

[Tweet “You don’t need to be a millionaire to make great tequila. @sinotequila”]

I am very proud of my Brand and the wonderful distillery that produces my SinoSrecipes.

There are still some people that may dismiss the tequila because it doesn’t have the flashy television ads, etc., but I believe quality and creativity supersedes relying solely on flashiness and huge budgets.

I see that being realized by more and more people each day.

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

JR:  It will definitely continue to grow and we will become a stronger voice.

[Tweet “Quality and creativity supersedes flashiness and huge budgets in #tequila @sinotequila”]

It’s awesome to see more women become Master Tequileras and how women in the Tequila/Mezcal industries especially are helping each other gain experience to rise up in the industry.


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

JR:  The competitive aspect of the industry can be enjoyable, but at the same time, when it gets reduced to “my tequila/mezcal is better than yours,” it gets quite annoying.

I enjoy spending time with people that continue to teach me about what makes each tequila or mezcal different from one another.SinoVariety

Education over bullying is always a better result.

That’s why I love what you and others do for the industry.  It gives a forum for even little brands like me to speak up.  Thank you for that! [Editor’s note:  You’re welcome!]

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

JR:  I love the creative marketing aspects of the industry.

Some, I think, are a bit ridiculous, some a bit stale, but at the same time all of it is interesting.

I still think there is a lot more out there on how to bring in the culture of Mexico and [to] be creative with branding that I don’t always see.

I tend to like brands from a messaging standpoint that market somewhere between the Rancho image of Mexico and the Club scene of a major US city.


There is so much more content to have fun with in the middle of those two extremes which I really try to tap into.

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?

JR:  Yes, go for it!  If it is your passion you need to chase it.

I really live by what made my final decision to jump into the world of agave – “Si no tratas, no ganas”

If you don’t try, you won’t win.

As long as it is a passion and something you want to try for the love of it, then it will be an extremely fulfilling journey!

[Tweet “Si no tratas, no ganas! If you don’t try, you won’t win @sinotequila”]


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!