How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018

How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

Whether you’re in the business, a savvy consumer, or just an Average Joe overwhelmed by the hype of agave spirits, how can you ensure that you’ll survive the upcoming tequila turmoils of the rest of this year, and beyond?

We’ll show you how.

But first…

Let’s Review

You’ve heard the news of the current agave crisis that we covered in The Agave Panic of 2018:  Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila. 

You’ve kept track of the trend since last year when we explained that The Agave Shortage of 2017 is Worse Than We Thought.

If you’re launching agave spirits brands during this time of crisis, we need a short discussion about–

Mega Distributors

Aside from some notable craft brands being swallowed up by corporate distillers, M & A has been the name of the game in the spirits distribution sector, too.

How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

Late November 2017 brought the news that distributor Breakthru Beverage was set to combine with Texas based distributor Republic National Distribution Company to match 2016’s mega-merger of Southern Wine and Spirits with Glazer’s, Inc.

This means that smaller agave spirits labels are in danger of never gaining the attention of these behemoth corporations.

And, if your small batch agave distillate has been promised a slot in the hulking distributors’ newly formed “craft spirits division,” specifically to “incubate” promising brands, my advice…

Don’t Do It!  It’s A Trap!

How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

Whether they’ve promised your juice a small amount of attention, or you’re in the “full book” (entire spirits catalog), these divisions are engineered to give the up-and-coming little guy a false sense of hope–and a false sense of security–that your gem will be distributed nationwide, some day.

Fat chance.  It’ll never happen. Wake up!

These mammoth distributors are in bed with the Big Boys, and won’t lift a finger to help you get the word out or build your brand.

Whatever that friend-of-a-friend-who’s-been-in-the-business-a-long-time-and-you’ve-been-golfing-buddies-forever has pledged to you, these departments are engineered to safely “sit” on your precious tequila or mezcal because it has been deemed a threat to the shelf space of their higher paying bread-and-butter flagships.How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

With the recent pay-for-play scandals that have been in the booze news lately, this technique is tougher to detect.

You’ll still be in the same boat you’re in now, doing all the work yourself.

Instead…

Support Your Local Distributor

Not a day goes by where a rising agave star doesn’t ask us for recommendations on a “good distributor” [There’s an oxymoron!] in any state.

Personally, I hesitate to recommend any particular distributor.  I’m not a big fan of them.  Some will argue that the Three Tier System of distribution in the United States is archaic, and serves only the Big Brands.

That said, small-to-mid sized distributors, in my opinion, will become even more important in the grand scheme of things, especially in light of the next impeding mega-merger between Republic National and Breakthru Beverage.

If you’re lucky enough to find hustlers like agave-centric Glass Bottom Distributors in Southern California, or Creospirits in Arizona, your troubles might be fewer.

On the other hand, if you decide to go with a small wine house, or choose a beer distributor or some other arrangement, you’ll still need to instruct their sales staff on how to sell your agave spirit.

Assume that they are simply order takers and woefully under trained (they are!) on anything other than wine or beer, or what’s “on spiff.”

When instructing these salespeople, speak to them in terms they will understand, and don’t have high expectations.

Maybe, just maybe, they won’t disappoint you too much.

Savvy Consumer

You’re one smart cookie.

Not too many people can pull the wool over your eyes, but…

You’re afraid of falling for the excessive marketing that’s endlessly broadcasted to you from all sides of the tequila aisle.

Relax.How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

We suggest you re-read our 2-part series, Craft Tequila:  WTF Does THAT Mean? Part 1.  And, the guidelines put forth in the Craft Tequila Gauntlet in Part 2.

Add Kosher

While you’re at it, add kosher tequila and mezcal to your arsenal, too.

Don’t laugh.  It’s a billion dollar business.

If Rothschild can release a kosher rose champagne, what’s keeping tequilas and mezcals from doing it, too?

Check out our 4 part series, The BIG Business of Kosher Tequila, Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 .

The Average Joe

If you’re just an Average Joe, and even if you’ve done all the aforementioned due diligence, you’re still in danger.
How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

Rather than taking shortcuts in order to meet heavy worldwide demand and risk losing quality, some reputable tequila makers have reportedly stopped distilling temporarily in the hopes that agave prices will level out.

[At this writing, agave prices are at $25 pesos per kilo.]

One industry insider confessed to us, however, that a major brand name tequila had switched completely to using diffusers to produce its tequilas.

Asked whether the owner of this large distillery was concerned that the quality of his juice would suffer, he admitted that he didn’t care.

He defended his position by saying that his tequila had been around for so long, and was moving a significant amount of cases, that consumers would never know the difference, anyway.

To purists, news like this breaks their heart.

To savvy consumers, this deliberate disrespect of the public’s intelligence should raise their hackles.

To the Average Joe, this will make your head spin because you make your buying decisions based mostly on tried and true names that you’ve always trusted.

Mainstay brands that were standouts before being bought by global companies, or invested in by foreigners outside of Mexico, are banking that you’ll fall for their marketing–and, on your ignorance.

Don’t let them!

How to Survive the Tequila Turmoils of 2018 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5zQ

What Else You Can Do

Support small producers of agave spirits.

The Big Boys will always weather the storm, but a few of the little guys could be out of business over the course of the next five years or so.

In promoting them–and even some of the more popular brands, it seems–expect to pay more at your local bar or liquor store.

Whether the agave crisis is fact, fiction or a fusion of both, the scarcity of a commodity will always drive prices higher.

In this thoughtful article by the non-profit advocacy group, Tequila Interchange Project, here’s what else you can do to prepare for what’s to come–without selling out.

Informed agave spirits consumers should always strive to drink for a greater, and more balanced, agave distillates industry.

20 Reasons Why USA Today’s Craft Tequilas List Failed

Let’s Review…

In a previous post, I enumerated my reasons for  dreading my participation in USA Today’s 10 Best Craft Tequila list.

In my experience, something inevitably goes awry with these sorts of “listicles,” and it usually starts with the editor.

Contrary to the galloping propaganda disseminated by some press releases, there were no additional USA Today editors involved in accumulating the original list of twenty craft tequilas.  Only the recruited “experts” were involved.

This time around, I blame the curator of these lists whose job it is to engage USA Today’s readership, which in turn leads to its increased ad revenue.

Now that the excitement has died down, it’s time to assess the damage done by deliberately withheld facts, and to clear the air of unbridled misinformation.

The Top 20 Reasons Why USA Today’s Top 10 Craft Tequila List

Sucks

[Caution:  Rants Ahead]

20 Reasons Why USA Today's Craft Tequilas List Failed http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4BW

1.  Lack of Respect.

When someone asks you to accrue a list on your area of expertise, you, as the curator, must assume that that person takes this task very seriously, especially since you’ve taken the time to background check the expert who is going to help you get PAID.

2.  Lack of Communication.

When this expert communicates questions to you via email or phone, be aware that this person expects a timely answer, especially when YOU have asked him for his list by a certain deadline.

3.  Lack of Trust.

When you deliberately avoid answering questions about who else is involved in

20 Reasons Why USA Today's Craft Tequilas List Failed http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4BW

accruing a list for you, you immediately raise suspicion.

As with most “industry experts,” we tend to know one another.  In this instance, we could have worked in tandem to come up with a more complete list.

4.  Lack of Respect for Relationships.

You must also assume that the expert not only admires those items on his list, but personally knows each producer of those items and has forged lasting relationships with them over the years.

5.  More Lack of Respect for Relationships.

Because of these relationships, you must assume the expert is also highly regarded by those craft producers that he has included on his list.

6.  Lack of Understanding the Craft Segment.

By virtue of being craft distillers, you must understand that they are not made of money like the Big Boys.  These guys literally live by their shoestrings.

20 Reasons Why USA Today's Craft Tequilas List Failed http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4BW

7.  Lack of Transparency.

Total and complete transparency when communicating with your experts is vital.  Explaining what opportunities and hidden fees await the winners is of utmost importance as that intelligence could alter the final list.

8.  Lack of Vergüenza (shame).

Where the HELL do you get off asking the winners for money for the licensing rights to use your seals, medals and trophies?

9.  Lack of Seriousness.

Do you realize that you are asking for similar fees by more respected and reputable spirits judging contests like the San Francisco World Spirits Competition or the SIP Awards?

20 Reasons Why USA Today's Craft Tequilas List Failed http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4BW10.  Lack of Consideration.

Do you see that this lack of transparency on your part on behalf of USA Today could possibly put the expert’s friendships and reputation at risk?

11.  Lack of Realistic Expectations.

Do you really believe that these craft brands will fork over money for a meaningless popularity contest–for bragging rights?

12.  Underestimating the Brands.

How stupid do you think they (or we, the judges) are?

13.  Concealment of True Intentions.

Do you get that we understand that these contests you curate for USA Today are only to generate reader engagement which in turn determines your pricing to advertisers?

14.  Greediness.

Double dip, much?

20 Reasons Why USA Today's Craft Tequilas List Failed http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4BW

15.  Conscious Collateral Damage.

Do you catch on that the winning and losing brands on this list probably now believe that the experts knew about the additional costs to the winners but chose not to divulge this information to them?

16.  Lack of Good Faith.

Most all professionally held beer, wine and spirits competitions openly inform participants of additional licensing costs to the winners.  YOU deliberately chose to keep this information from your experts.

17.  Elimination Due to Perceived Lack of Relevance.

Was it fair for you to eliminate those craft tequila brands because they had little or no social media presence?

18.  Lack of Foresight on Your Part.20 Reasons Why USA Today's Craft Tequilas List Failed http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4BW

Bet you didn’t see that one coming, huh?

19.  Naïveté On My Part.

I only reluctantly became involved to help promote these deserving craft tequila brands.

20.  Underhandedness.

Thanks for cheapening the craft tequila segment.

 

Vote for Your Favorite Craft Tequila Brand!

Vote Now!

Vote for Your Favorite Craft Tequila Brand! http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4r3In order to be called tequila, this spirit distilled from the juices blue agave must be made in specific regions of Mexico, most prominently Jalisco and the town of tequila. While no tequilas are produced in the United States, we want to find the best craft tequila brands available in the country, and to do so, we asked a pair of tequila experts to nominate their favorites. Unlike other spirits, tequila brands often share distilleries – there are about 70 of them producing more than 500 brands – so it’s often the brand rather than the distillery that indicates quality. Many of these 20 nominees for best craft tequila brand use traditional methods. Many of the brand owners grow their own agave and personally oversee the entire tequila-making process. All produce high-quality, distinctive tequilas available in the U.S. market. Vote for your favorite once per day until voting ends on Monday, September 12, 2016, at noon ET.

Read Mike’s article on choosing a list of craft tequilas to send to USA Today:

THE TOP 20 CRAFT TEQUILAS YOU’VE OVERLOOKED

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand

“This is your tequila bucket list.”  

~ Rick Levy of Tequila Aficionado

If you’ve seen Mike Morales’ article on the Top 20 Craft Tequilas you’ve overlooked then you’ll understand that picking one (or even 10) from this list is like picking your favorite child.  It’s too difficult to do, so your best bet is to vote twice a day for your favorites and spend the rest of your time sipping all of them.

Congratulations to all the nominees.  If Mike could pick a top 50 list, it still wouldn’t be enough.  Thank you to all the wonderful brands out there who are constantly striving to produce the finest tequilas they can.  We love you all!

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qmIn order to be called tequila, this spirit distilled from the juices blue agave must be made in specific regions of Mexico, most prominently Jalisco and the town of tequila. While no tequilas are produced in the United States, we want to find the best craft tequila brands available in the country, and to do so, we asked a pair of tequila experts to nominate their favorites. Unlike other spirits, tequila brands often share distilleries – there are about 70 of them producing more than 500 brands – so it’s often the brand rather than the distillery that indicates quality. Many of these 20 nominees for best craft tequila brand use traditional methods. Many of the brand owners grow their own agave and personally oversee the entire tequila-making process. All produce high-quality, distinctive tequilas available in the U.S. market. Vote for your favorite once per day until voting ends on Monday, September 12 at noon ET. Read the official Readers’ Choice rules here.

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

1. Embajador Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

2. Suerte Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

3. DesMaDre Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

4. Tequila Gran Dovejo

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

5. Siete Leguas

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

6. T1 Tequila Uno

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

7. Tequila Tapatío

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

8. Tequila G4

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

9. Tequila Don Modesto

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

10. Tequila Alquimia

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

11. Dulce Vida Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

12. Pasote Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

13. Tequila Fortaleza

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

14. Casa Noble Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

15. Siembra Spirits

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

16. Tears of Llorona

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

17. Tequila Ocho

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

18. Tequila ArteNOM

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

19. Don Fulano

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

20. IXÁ Organic Tequila