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.

[Tweet “In a pay-to-play world, @TequilaAficion has changed the game with #BrandsofPromiseAwards”]

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.

[Tweet “#MellyBarajas bagged #DistilleroftheYear with @TequilaVikera @TCCRAFTTEQUILA #BrandsofPromise”]

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


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!


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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.)

[Tweet “Stop looking at Bacanora as just another source for profits.  Value what it really stands for.”]

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.)

[Tweet “Son bebidas espirituosas con sabor a Mexico. Necesitamos conservar la tradicion.”]


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

A Bacanora Boss Lady Tells All: Adriana Torres

Adriana Torres:  Bacanora Boss Lady

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

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

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

Meet Bacanora

Mezcal is all the craze these days.

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

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

A Troubled Past

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

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

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

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

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

[Tweet “Bacanora production was illegal in Mexico from 1915 until 1992!”]

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.]



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.


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.

[Tweet “En tiempos postrevolucionarios destruían las vinatas de bacanora y ahorcaban a los vinateros.”]

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

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

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

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

Soy Productora de Bacanora.

More on Bacanora

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



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