The Arizona Taco Festival

No Days Off

When we discovered that on one of our rare free days during the Wild Wild West 2017 Tour would coincide with the famed Arizona Taco Festival, we knew that was a party we needed to crash and cover.

The Arizona Taco Festival https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5lL

Armed with press passes courtesy of the Founder of the Taco Fest, David Tyda, we arrived at the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale along with what seemed to be the entire city.

Bring Water!

Even though the event took place on the weekend of October 14th and 15th, 2017, the desert heat was unrelenting.

Planned Events

The Arizona Taco Festival https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5lL

The 8th Annual Arizona Taco Festival is famous for its wild and crazy contests during the two day affair.

Billed by USA Today as one of the country’s most exciting food shows, besides endless amounts of tacos from established eateries, the festival also features a chihuahua beauty pageant, hilarious eating competitions, lucha libre wrestling, and–the real reason for our interest–a tequila expo.

Surprises Under the Tequila Tent

Having heard all kinds of stories over the years from people who attended the Arizona Taco Festival, we felt we needed to investigate their claims for ourselves.

What we didn’t anticipate were the following pop-up surprises by brands we’ve followed with great enthusiasm and even some that came along with us on our Wild Wild West 2017 Tour.

Azunia Makes a Splash!

[*FTC Disclosure: Brands appearing on the Tequila Aficionado Wild Wild West 2017 Tour were vetted as Brand of Promise(c) Nominees and paid a nominal fee to be included.]

Tequila Terralta Makes an Appearance

Enrique Ramos of Creo Spirits was hard at work in his space serving Terralta Tequila to the masses.  Note the cleverly placed chairs to welcome attendees to sit and sip awhile.

Terralta Tequila and the Arizona Tequila Mafia

And who should be sitting at the Terralta booth but some of the members of the Arizona Tequila Mafia.

These affable gents formed their own Facebook group and get together to sip and savor their favorite brands once or twice per year.

Chili Terralta Cocktail 

And, this was dubbed the official cocktail of the Arizona Tequila Mafia that everyone was raving about made with Terralta Tequila 110 proof–

Cuestion Everything

The Arizona Taco Festival https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5lL

Making an unexpected entrance into the Arizona Taco Festival to celebrate the resurgence of Cuestion Tequila was none other than the brand’s front man, Jason Fandrich.

Casa Mexico in The Mix

Eric Buccio, founder of Casa Mexico Tequila also exhibited at the Arizona Taco Festival.  Here, he gives us a sneak peek into the man and the brand.

The Fun Never Ends

The Arizona Taco Festival https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5lL

Magic like this happens whenever we get out into the public and take tequila to the streets.

Want to reach more tequila and agave spirits enthusiasts?

You should.

Drop us a line at:  mike@tequilapr.com .

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!

Terralta Tequila Dinner at Elvira’s in Tucson

[*FTC Disclosure: Brands appearing on the Tequila Aficionado Wild Wild West 2017 Tour were vetted as Brand of Promise(c) Nominees and paid a nominal fee to be included.]

Welcome to Tucson

One of our first stops on the Wild Wild West 2017 Tour was to Elvira’s Tequila Cocina & Vino at its newest location on Congress Street in Tucson, Arizona.

The original Elvira’s restaurant was founded in 1927 in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.  The family’s first foray into the United States was in the Southern Arizona town of Tubac.

This Tucson location is a Latin American fusion concept that uses some of the best flavors and modern culinary techniques from around the world.

On this evening, we were invited by Creospirits importer, Enrique Ramos, to direct a tasting and pairing dinner featuring Master Distiller Felipe Camarena’s fabulous Terralta Tequila expressions.

Unparalleled Genius

Discussing the unparalleled genius of Felipe Camarena.

Unparalleled Cuisine

https://www.instagram.com/p/BaFKw3qDHZV/?taken-by=tequilaaficionado

Elvira’s newest chef, Travis Bowden, wowed guests with his diverse menu featuring Terralta as the key ingredient.

Here’s what Chef Travis had to say about raising the bar at Elvira’s with Terralta Tequila.

Since 1927

Billed as having over 250 wine options and three certified sommeliers on staff, not to mention a fine array of tequilas, Elvira’s Tequila Cocina & Vino is destined to be a Tucson destination location for fine dining for years to come.

 

If you are planning a trip to Arizona, we heartily recommend Elvira’s.  For more to do in Arizoona, check out this article on the 100 Best Things to Do in Arizona.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BaGGD22jWQp/?taken-by=tequilaaficionado

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!

Tequila Aficionado’s Tequila & Mezcal Road Show, Part 3

[From October 14 to October 28, 2015, Tequila Aficionado Media, accompanied by 33 expressions representing 19 brands, embarked on an epic RV road show christened, The Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour.  In these next passages, we recount the historic–and hysteric–highlights.] 

TacoGuild

Church, Tacos, and Tequila With Roger Clyne

Phoenix, Arizona

One of the highlights of Tequila Aficionado Media’s breakthrough Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour was lunch with indy rock legend Roger Clyne of Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers.

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After graciously posing for a quick photo outside our Cruise America RV with Lisa’s boys, we anxiously followed Roger and his lovely and elusive wife, Alisa, inside the historic Taco Guild gastropub, a deconsecrated Methodist church where he had recently conducted an exclusive tasting for fans of his Mexican Moonshine Tequila.

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Having spent most of my young life inside churches, my first inclination was to

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speak reverently in whispers.  Like most places of worship, the Taco Guild had its original stained glass windows and acoustically high ceilings that amplified the din of the lunch time crowd.

It didn’t take long before whispering was futile and more tequila and cocktails were needed.

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Next On Deck

After ordering and savoring some delicious taco plates, Alisa and Roger clued us in on what was ahead for Mexican Moonshine tequila.

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Not only were they planning an extensive 2015 fall tour, but they were also gearing up for 2016’s annual Circus Mexicus.  But, there was another surprise–

The exclusive Mexican Moonshine extra añejo in a ceramic, commemorative 20th anniversary collector’s bottle depicting the “Fizzy Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy” album by Roger’s then group, The Refreshments.

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The band financed the effort so successfully via an Indiegogo campaign that the extra funds enabled them to parlay Mexican Moonshine as a featured tequila in twenty locations–including their own branded cantinas– throughout Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball club for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

RC_AZ

Tequila Tasting With Roger Clyne

A staunch reposado enthusiast, Roger was making it his personal journey to research extra añejos in order to help him define his preferred flavor profile

2015-10-21 12.39.43for Moonshine’s upcoming XA offering.

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Known for their varied and extensive tequila menu,

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naturally, an impromptu tequila tasting ensued courtesy of the Taco Guild’s gracious bar manager.

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After selecting and sampling a variety of tequilas from other producers with varying production methods,

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including some exclusive ultra añejos from behind the Taco Guild’s sacred bar for over an hour, it was time to say goodbye to Roger and Alisa.

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After supplying the Clynes with a bottle of blanco tequila and an añejo mezcal (for educational purposes, of course!), we hefted our bulging bag of leftovers onto the Cruise America RV.

Playing Catch Up

On the way back to our RV park, we stopped at the local supermarket to stock up on supplies for the what we expected would be the crown jewel of our tour–

The Grand Canyon.

After catching up on our required social media chores, a light dinner was in order along with sips of Mestizo Mezcal to chase away the creeping chill of the Arizona evening.

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!

Tequila Aficionado’s Tequila & Mezcal Road Show, Part 2

[From October 14 to October 28, 2015, Tequila Aficionado Media, accompanied by 33 expressions representing 19 brands, embarked on an epic RV road show christened, The Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour.  In these next passages, we recount the historic–and hysteric–highlights.]

Inspired In Albuquerque

With the help of Mezcal Legendario Domingo, Lisa and I brainstormed about our black water tank problem.

We would contact Cruise America RV’s headquarters in Mesa, AZ via their Facebook page, and make an appointment with their service department.  Since we were already fans, this impromptu visit would also serve as more content for Tequila Aficionado and Lisa’s personal blog.

Brilliant!

Get Your Kicks

Get your kicks

Having trekked from Albuquerque to Phoenix a few times before,  both Lisa and myself were aware that portions of Interstate 40 coursed along the Mother Road, historic Route 66.

Mother Road

And having lived in New Mexico for many years, I knew that a stop at Route 66 Casino for more photo ops was a must, especially because Route 66 Tequila had come on the tour, as well.

Route 66 CasinoIt was a memorable pit stop for us.  We made a few new friends and had fun doing it!  Check out this video highlight.Route 66 Casino Arrow

 

 

 

 

By The Time I Get to Phoenix

Once we left New Mexico in the rear view mirror and entered Arizona, the scenery changed and so did our mood.

Looking forward to our lunch date with Roger Clyne of Mexican Moonshine in the next couple of days, we decided to enjoy his latest CD, The Independent, and sing along–with hand puppets.

Don’t judge.  It was a long drive!

After a mid-evening check-in at the Desert Shadows RV park in Phoenix, coupled with a late dinner, a snifter of Route 66 tequila for a nightcap seemed appropriate.  But, not too many.

Our appointment with Cruise America’s service department to address our black water tank problem loomed early the next morning.

Cruise America Headquarters

Things-RVers-Say

An impressive fleet of RVs greeted us at Cruise America’s headquarters in Mesa.  Its size and depth was deceiving with ample showrooms inside.  No matter which department we dealt with, though, the company’s dedication to customer service was first rate.

While the service department examined our damaged RV, we spent time speaking with Vice President, Michael Smalley, on several topics concerning Cruise America’s long history and company philosophy.

You can watch the interview here.

Thank You, Cruise America! 

An hour later, the head of the service department conferred with Mr. Smalley.  Knowing that we were pressed for time, Michael advised that the quickest way to get us back enjoying the road and working on our tour was to switch us to a newer RV rather than to have us wait any longer for repairs on the black water tank.

After unloading clothes and supplies from our old RV and reloading the new one, we waved goodbye to our friends at Cruise America and shuttled back to our RV park in Phoenix.

That afternoon, Lisa was expecting her longtime friends and members of her writer’s group, and she was bound and determined to introduce them to fine sipping tequila from Casa 1921.

 The Butterscotch Martini Girls

Once we were safely back at Desert Shadows with a brand new RV, Lisa regaled her friends with 1921 La Crema.  You can view their official introduction to this tequila gem here, and their rave review here.

As for me, I took the time to sit underneath one of the many fruit trees near our space, lit a cigar, and enjoyed the rolling clouds that signaled a cooling monsoon shower just before sunset.

Arizona Plate

Tomorrow, we’d have some Mexican Moonshine in the forecast, courtesy of Roger Clyne.

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!

Tequila Aficionado’s Tequila & Mezcal Road Show, Part I

[From October 14 to October 28, 2015, Tequila Aficionado Media, accompanied by 33 expressions representing 19 brands, embarked on an epic RV road show christened, The Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour.  In these next passages, we recount the historic–and hysteric–highlights.

You can also view a complete video playlist of our adventures on our YouTube channel here…]

On A Dark Desert Highway

Somewhere outside Carlsbad, New Mexico

 

On a dark stretch of highway in southeastern New Mexico, a road weary Lisa Pietsch guided the Cruise America RV that Tequila Aficionado Media had rented for the historic Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour.

Avoiding oncoming eighteen wheelers hauling oil and speeding two-ton diesel  trucks, she counted the minutes until she reached her destination for the night, the Carlsbad KOA campground.

Suddenly, she gasped as a huge piece of truck tire appeared in the high beam headlights ahead of her.

With no way to avoid the giant twisted remnant on the two lane highway without swerving and fishtailing the thirty foot RV, she gritted her teeth, straddled the rubber and hoped for the best.

A resounding ka-thunk ka-thunk let her know that she had successfully survived what could have been a perilous situation.  It wasn’t until the next morning that Lisa discovered what had actually happened.

Uncomplicated Sipping

Feeling like the castaways from Gilligan’s Island, what was supposed to have been a leisurely six hour drive from San Antonio, Texas to Carlsbad, New Mexico turned into a 9 hour ordeal that began with early morning packing and stocking the RV.

Once we parked and hooked up the water and electricity at the campground for the night, Lisa announced that all she wanted was something uncomplicated to sip on for a late evening nightcap.

Malinalli blanco fit the bill perfectly.

Black Water

After a sluggish morning, we decided to drive for Carlsbad Caverns in the early afternoon.

Unhooking the RV, Lisa noticed the damage to the black water tank.  The coiled tire we had straddled the night before had poked a sizeable hole.  If any of us needed to use the bathroom while we were on the road, it would spell disaster, especially for those following behind us.

With fingers crossed, we headed to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

To The Bat Cave!

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After struggling with our selfie stick trying to capture a family photo outside the park sign, we hustled into the visitor’s area for a mid-afternoon tour of the caverns.

Once inside, we were met with this alarming notice–1016151439a

Bats are dying!

While we weren’t able to manage a tour of the Caverns’ famed bat exhibit that featured the Mexican free tail bats, there was enough important information to post in the above article.

Attack of The 10 Foot Martians 

1016151716 1016151717aOn our way back from Carlsbad Caverns just before nightfall, we were able to do a bit of souvenir shopping and picture taking with carved bears and aliens.

We had no idea that the alien culture was so prominent in Carlsbad, but we were sure that Roswell, our next day’s whistle stop, would have more than enough little green men to spare.

In the meantime, we appropriately eased into the  gray, stormy evening with Tromba tequila.

The Truth Is Out There

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From the moment that Alien Tequila hopped aboard our Tequila & Mezcal Tour, I knew that a stop in Roswell, NM at the UFO Museum was a must.

Walking through this charmingly quirky city with a bottle of Alien Tequila hidden in a bag made these photos even more delightful.

1017151250aAfter more souvenir shopping, it was off to our stop for the next two nights at my old stomping grounds in Albuquerque.

R & R

Having stayed at this particular KOA campground during our first family RV outing earlier in the Spring of 2015, we were familiar with the amenities and felt comfortable enough to enjoy some down time.  The driving had taken its toll on Lisa, so a two-day respite was just what she needed.

JLP Margaritas were the order of the evening.  After catching up on emails and drafting blogs, Senda Real made an appearance, as well.

Finding Photo Ops

When you’re stuck behind a computer from 5 to 8 hours a day like Lisa and I usually are working to make Tequila Aficionado Media even more interesting, compelling and educational for you, finding ways to create more inspirational photo and video opportunities is challenging.

Stepping away from the home office and being on the road really lends itself to “outside-the-box” creativity.  If you remain open to possibilities, even the simplest things can serve to generate epic social media content and articles.

Which is exactly what we needed since we were still faced with the dilemma of the damaged black water tank.

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!

Barrio Café–A Tequila Oasis

[In an industry of cookie-cutter airport cantinas, it was refreshing to experience a little bit of the local flavor at Barrio Café during a recent layover at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport’s Terminal 4.]

*Yawn!*

Frequent flyers are a highly sought after target market.  Just ask any company that pays top dollar to advertise in in-flight magazines.  They’ll admit that a temporarily sequestered audience with nowhere to go (but up?) is a gold mine.

But, with security protocols being what they are now, bored and isolated travelers awaiting the next leg of their trip desperately seek to pass the time at engaging airport bars/restaurants with strong food and drink selections, and even stronger wifi.

What struck me most about Barrio Café, however, was that it was a tequila oasis in a sea of food court cuisine.  Coupled with an informed and educated staff, and my ears perked up.

The Original Comida Chingona of Phoenix

Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, along with her partner, Wendy Gruber, opened the first Barrio Café in the Calle 16 neighborhood of Central Phoenix in 2002, and it quickly shot to culinary stardom.

Inspired by regional dishes from Oaxaca, Ensenada, and the Yucatán, Chef 0514151503Silvana transforms them with a French twist to create, as it reads on their menu, “some seriously bad ass Mexican cuisine.”

Chef Silvana’s acknowledgements are as long as your arm, too!

Highlighted by an induction into the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame in 2004, voted as one of the Top 9 Mexican Chefs by MSNBC Latino in 2010, and four James Beard award nominations in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Employing local graffiti artists and muralists to illustrate and beautify each location, Barrio is notorious for attracting eclectic customers–from low riders to politicians.

 Not Your Mother’s House

Beloved and admired by Chef Silvana’s long term café employees, server Brittany Sabo proudly elaborates on this and other locations, its founders, and Barrio’s varied menu.

Help Conserve Water, Drink Tequila

The Barrio Café bar inside Terminal 4.
The Barrio Café bar inside Terminal 4.

With a tequila selection as assorted as their clientele–from the Usual Suspects to Arizona based smaller brands–their list also includes eye-opening tequila flights.

Here, Brittany reveals Chef Silvana’s future plans for a possible private label tequila.

Precioso, Hermoso, and Ready for You!

A snifter of 7 Leguas tequila.
A snifter of 7 Leguas tequila.

The idea of catering to short term secluded audiences hasn’t escaped big name tequila companies.  But, that warm cozy feeling of being welcomed into a neighborhood bar and restaurant is an unexpected quality not usually found in cookie cutter cantinas.

For years, Jose Cuervo has licensed branded Taberna del Tequila bars in airports around the US.  The Blue Mesa Taco & Tequila Bar at Dallas/Ft. Worth International, has long been an Herradura (Brown-Forman) stronghold, as well.

Airline travelers eventually come and go, but a snifter of good tequila and a house taco of cochinita pibil at the Barrio Café in Terminal 4 could very easily make you miss your connecting flight.

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!

Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine–Tequila With Intention

roger clyne, mexican moonshine

On a frigid and damp Saturday night in November 2013, Roger Clyne, along with his band The Peacemakers, invited Tequila Aficionado Media to an intimate concert at Billy’s Ice House in New Braunfels, TX. 

Click here for Part 1 of our visit with Roger Clyne.

***

“The planet does not need more ‘successful people.’  The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds….” H.H. The Dalai Lama

JollyRahjahFrom the day that Bing Crosby carted his first bottles of Herradura across the dusty border from Mexico, tequila and popular music have been willing confederates.  After well over fifty years, modern recording stars like Carlos Santana, Justin Timberlake, Diddy, Billy Gibbons and others continue to tout their own tequila brands, either openly or quietly as part of investment groups.

But one recording artist does so both openly and somewhat quietly–Roger Clyne.

Shivering in the cold outside the Peacemakers’ eco-friendly tour bus, I recalled a conversation that I had had earlier with my good friend, Jason Silverman, Agave Beverage Manager at the famous Agave Bar & Restaurant in New York City.  He’d met Roger a few weeks earlier during the band’s New York swing and remarked that he was one of the coolest and most down-to-earth guys in the music and tequila business.

Once we climbed aboard, we were warmly met by heat (thank goodness!), dimmed lighting, and soft flamenco guitar music that instantly set the tone for a relaxing one-on-one with the only award winning tequila brand owner (Gold Medal at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition for Mexican Moonshine añejo) set to launch another highly anticipated indy album (The Independent premiered April 29, 2014).

 Rich gonna reap, Poor gotta sow…How we gonna make bread without any dough?

Being frank, open and honest, much like his lyrics, here Roger offers us a look into what it takes to bring his start up tequila onto the market to compete with big name brands.  As you’ll agree, it’s very similar to the indy music business.

Hello raindrop, hello sea…Hello jungle, leaf on the tree…Hello new day!

Possibly due to his early ranching heritage in Arizona, Clyne has pledged that the Peacemakers would walk softly upon the Earth while on tour.  He believed that his tequila factory should have the same respect for nature.

In this clip, Roger reveals his reasons for selecting Fabrica de Tequilas Finos (NOM 1472) as the producer of Mexican Moonshine tequila.  Foremost was the distillery’s efforts at environmental responsibility and vinazas clean up.

Screw-top wine, Rhythm and rhyme…My moonshine in a plastic cupBehind_Moonshine

Once referred to as the “Bruce Springsteen of the Southwest,” Roger’s rock n’ roll persona is often misinterpreted.  While he admits to playing as hard as he works, Clyne is a conscientious catador, learning from his mentors at Tequilas Finos, owner Federico Cabo and Master Distiller, Arturo Fuentes.

In these next clips, Roger Clyne gets up close and personal with his fans and concert goers at Billy’s Ice House in New Braunfels, TX, as he conducts his own tequila tasting of Mexican Moonshine.

Still a student of life, as well as tequila, in this snippet, we discuss proper tasting practices and the Vinturi aerator.

Hey Cantinero!

jason silverman, mixology, roger clyne, mexican moonshine
Jason Silverman, mixologist and fan of Roger Clyne – the man, the musician, and his Moonshine

 

With mixology driving the spirits industry and specially made cocktails being the new world order, Roger Clyne gives his thoughts on mixing with Mexican Moonshine.

Here, Clyne recounts his New York visit with Agave Beverage Manager, Jason Silverman, of the trendy Agave Bar & Restaurant.

So how does Roger Clyne relax after a long day on the road?  Try his signature drink, the Cheat-a-Rita!

And everything’s slowin’ down flowin’ counterclockwise

Throughout his journey, Roger Clyne has successfully handled life’s curveballs.

Circus_Mexicus
Circus Mexicus, a weekend beach party jam session in the sleepy town of Puerto Peñasco, Mexico

Whether it was pursuing a music career independent of the support of corporate record labels, or organizing Circus Mexicus, a weekend beach party jam session in the sleepy town of Puerto Peñasco, Mexico that has turned into a four day music festival, Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers have deliberately taken “the road less traveled.”

This same thoughtful path can be savored in each of his Mexican Moonshine expressions, and can surely be enjoyed in the melodies and lyrics of the band’s latest CD, The Independent.

If you feel that your own life decisions are turning your world counterclockwise, let these storytellers restore your soul and your taste buds, and heal your love for life.

After all, that was their original intention.

***

Enjoy this video of Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers’ hit, Counterclockwise…

Speaking of curveballs…

Amigos
M.A. “Mike” Morales and Roger Clyne posing for a picture after an amazing evening of tastings and interview

 

 

On April 29, 2014, Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers will unleash their seventh studio album, The Independent.  The title fits these musical mavericks like an old pair of faded jeans worn as a statement against oppression on Casual Fridays.   Yet, as Clyne states, “There’s something about our music that celebrates what’s uniting versus what’s dividing.”

independent
Click on the image to pre-order The Independent now (Release April 29, 2014).

Using this “Tequila Logic,” Roger Clyne has managed to do the same with Mexican Moonshine, gently hitching the spirit’s Lowland agave heritage to the wood notes of Kentucky bourbon to create a peacemaker that rightfully belongs in any collector’s arsenal.

Mexican Moonshine, Mexican Moonshine…Let your heart and your cup overflow, under the glow of the moonshine!  May your heart and your cup… Overflow…under the glow of the Moonshine!

Click here for Part 1 of our visit with Roger Clyne.

Visit Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers online now
Visit Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers online now

 

 

mex moonshine
Visit Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine online now

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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!

Change is at Hand for the Tequila Market, Part I

tequila market, masa azulPart I of II

Written by Chris Zarus of TequilaRack

Tequila Brands and Producers Have Already Sailed Into the Sucker Hole

For those new to the expression, a “sucker hole” is a colloquial term referring to a spate of good weather that “suckers” sailors into leaving port just in time for a storm to resume at full force and wreak havoc on the ship and crew.

For both Tequila Brand Owners and producers of a certain size, their ship has already sailed, and the storm is now closing in on them. Some in denial, others looking through rose-colored margarita glasses, still believe they can navigate through to that glimmer of light on the horizon. However, the perfect storm of doom looms just past the horizon of hope, and will soon envelope and destroy most, if not all, in its wake.

Oh, and that’s the good news. The bad news is that only a few of the big and the very nimble will survive.

This is because of a number of factors, primarily that too many of us bought in to the Yankelovich and similar studies that declared premium and above 100% Agave Tequila brands as the next big thing.

While the premises of these market premonitions were undoubtedly true, too many of us jumped headfirst into the juice just before the world economic decline. Six hundred brands have turned into 1200 brands in less than five years. The growth of the market has been dramatic compared with other distilled spirits, yet, it’s still relatively small, ranked only 4th in US volume. It has not grown fast enough to accommodate all of the entries into the field.

Resistance is Futile – Change is at Hand for the Tequila Market

train wreckThe Gravy Train Wreck Ahead

I’m sure that for many of you, in just reading the title of this article, your blood pressure has escalated, and you may already be misdirecting your anger at the author.

For others who have experienced the many similar economic paths to consolidation in the global beverage industry, you have already accepted that change has to occur, and you will soon better understand and appreciate the math behind what I am about to lay out, and why everything I’m about to outline here will happen in due course.

For those of you who have your personal fortunes riding on the Tequila Train, both prominence and profit may still seem to be so close that you think you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, or beyond the next bend. But, I’m sorry to say that for most of us in the biz, the light at the end of the tunnel is that of an oncoming locomotive. This will be a catastrophic collision, albeit in slow motion, that will drain your resources and your resolve.

iwsrWhat can be learned from the Russians? (Excerpted from JustDrinks.com)

The global economic crisis has had a significant impact on the Russian spirits market, changing market dynamics and briefly halting the much-lauded premiumisation trend, according to current research.

A recently released report from the International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) on Russia’s spirits market claims that the downturn has also led to “…disruptions across the supply chain, with many suppliers and distributors going bankrupt or halting production. For healthier companies, however, it has presented an opening to establish their brands and take market share…”

cloud liningThe Silver Tequila Clouds have a very Dark Lining (Excerpted from Global market review of Tequila – forecasts to 2013 www.researchandmarkets.com )

The history of the Tequila industry has been one of boom and bust. Sales rose during the 1940’s only to collapse again in the mid-50’s. Export sales rose steadily from the 1960’s onward, although domestic sales fell sharply in the 1980’s due again to an economic slump, and the severe Mexican economic crisis of the early 1980’s resulted in plummeting sales.

The market was again disrupted by a critical shortage of Agave beginning in the late ’90’s, which served to hold back the category’s international development as brand owners were forced to divert limited supplies to the core US market, and quality perceptions were damaged as some manufacturers moved from 100% to 51% (Mixto) Agave products.

Today, that dynamic is in reverse, and the market is in oversupply. More and more 100% Agave products are coming into the market. This is helping to raise quality perceptions, and in turn, demand is surging not only in core Mexican and US markets but across a number of other countries.

The outlook for the category has rarely been better, and Casa Noble Tequila president and COO David Ravandi commented, “Tequila is entering a stage of consolidation in the world markets. It is no longer a fad. The fact that 100% Agave Tequila exports have increased tremendously over the last two years is extremely positive for the product’s outlook in the years to come.”

US Tequila Importation is a Sucker Bet

tequila history, santa fe“My cousin will make the best Tequila for you Mr. Gringo”

“So, my friend, you want a great Tequila brand? We will make it for you. Just fifty percent cash up front to start the process.”

Unfortunately, far too many have fallen for this old gag. Relying heavily on the forecasting reports of the early 2000’s that suggested that luxury Tequila would be the next big spirits category after vodka.

With dollar signs in their eyes, the believers drank the Tequila Kool-Aid, most of them spending way too much to buy a brand, custom molded bottles, etc. But the worst part was that this left little if any money for marketing. Many did not even understand brand marketing inflation was happening right under their noses.

It had started soon after Patron hit 100,000 cases in volume in 2001, and the cost to market a Tequila brand in the US went from $1 to $10M per year. Today it takes at least $20M per year just to play in the same ballpark as Patron’s $50M plus, Sauza’s $35M plus, and Cuervo’s $30M plus marketing budgets.

Who could have predicted that a “realistic” business plan for the next successful ultra-premium Tequila brand calling for only 10,000 cases in the first year would end in it’s investors taking a bath?

The problem with this equation is three-fold:

1) Pricing: Unlike vodka and white rum, 100% Agave Tequila is just too expensive to produce and bottle in Mexico. Unless, like rum, vodka and mixto Tequila, it is able to be shipped in bulk and bottled near the final consumer, the cost involved with 100% Agave Tequila is always going to be too high to attain critical volume and profit levels.

2) Volume: US mass volumes are best when a spirits category is between $9.99-29.99/750ml. One hundred percent Agave Tequila is currently profitable only at the upper ranges when higher volumes are attained.

3) Distribution: The US “3-Tier” Distribution System is at best an oligopoly, and 19 states run a monopoly. Of the 1200 plus Tequila brands, want to guess how many they want to carry? Well, after the top 20, you are very lucky to be “special order only”. If you are fortunate enough to live in the states of California or Arizona, where one can be both the importer and distributor, you will find yourself driving your precious Tequila brand around to each account in your car.

Without product volumes or market clout, you will be hard pressed to get even an appointment, let alone a vender number with the chain restaurants and grocery stores. These major chain stores like Chili’s, Chevy’s, Costco, Kroger, etc., drive at least 85% of the combined volume in all but the control states. Without access to the chains, your market becomes the handful of privately owned, “Mom & Pop” accounts that usually know that small independent distributors are easy prey for bending the law on consignment, stringing out payments, or not paying at all.

While driving your own brand around certainly makes time for the personal touch and focus, these hand-selling efforts prove to be the most inefficient ways to distribute one Tequila brand. Your glass ceiling to fame and fortune becomes that next level of chain distribution that can only be had by a state-wide delivery system of the large wholesale distributor.

With Tequila segment Pricing, Volume and Distribution all against you, one will need to have a lot more money than the brands of the past in order to simply survive in the US.

Tanks-a-lot for Nothing

Call the tank maker and raise your stocks of liquid now!

no masUnfortunately, most of the mid-sized Tequila distilleries have bought into the notion that Agave prices will go up in the very near future. They base this notion on the boom and bust cycle of the past, and like Lehman Brothers, believe that they have successfully timed the market.

Greedily, many producers are now mortgaged to the hilt in order to produce all the Tequila that they possibly can afford to store in stainless tanks or wooden barrels. Fear of the impending Agave price increase that has yet to happen (and may not for many, many years) has seemingly forced them all into a squirrel-like stockpiling frenzy.

Are they storing Blanco, like acorns, for the hard winter ahead? These stored nuts of liquid demise are in reality winds conspiring to produce the perfect storm for all but the most financially secure and/or nimble producers.

Copyright 2010 International Tasting Group (ITG), All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, ITG is the legal copyright holder of the material on our blog and it may not be used, reprinted, or published without our written consent.

Links

SPIRITS TRENDS

U.S. Spirits Market 2008, Gross Revenues by Price Category

http://www.discus.org/pdf/2009IndustryBriefing.pdf (This is the most recent report by DISCUS for 2009. Tequila volume is still listed as 4th.)

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Spirits+fast+track+brands.-a0144204154 (shows Patrón reaching 119K cases in volume in 2001.)

http://archive.cyark.org/2012-understanding-the-maya-calendars-blog

http://www.forgottenagesresearch.com/index.htm

http://www.nostradamus.org

http://www.oceanfreightusa.com/topic_impg.php?ch=19 (Bonded warehouses.)

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/02/09/tequila-agriculture.html (agave farmers)

http://www.yankelovich.com/ (state of the consumer)

tequilarack

Originally posted October 1, 2010 by Chris Zarus of TequilaRack.  This is considered a standard in the industry and is even more relevant today.

Please visit TequilaRack, a member of the Tequila Aficionado Flight of Sites.

 

 

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