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.

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 .

Terralta Tequila and Creo Spirits: Behind the Scenes

[*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.]

The Lay of the Land

The need for small-to-medium sized distributors in every state will become even more important in 2018 to ensure that worthy agave spirit Brands of Promise are not lost in the conglomerate shuffle.

Sensing this demand long before the current trend of mega-mergers, Enrique Ramos, established Creo Commercium Inc (Creo Spirits) in Phoenix, Arizona in 2008.

His current portfolio is stocked with an array of agave spirits, as well Mexican wines and craft beers that are not readily available except at select establishments such as Elvira’s Tequila Cocina & Vino in Tucson.

Hedging Bets

It’s a good bet that that was one of the main reasons Ingeniero Felipe Camarena Curiel, innovator of such remarkably acclaimed and diverse tequilas as Pasote, G4 and Terralta, chose Creo Spirits as his importer and distributor of Terralta in the highly competitive state of Arizona.

Spending countless hours with the man known as “The Mad Genius” of tequila at his state-of-art El Pandillo distillery, Enrique possesses a unique perspective on Felipe Camarena that few folks get the chance to experience.

We caught up with Enrique during the Wild Wild West 2017 Tour at his base of operations in Phoenix.

Here, Ramos divulges the “little things” that Felipe does to add to Terralta’s flavorful profile.

It All Happened by Mistake

Enrique reveals how Felipe Camarena and he established their relationship, and where Terralta is currently available.  He also expresses his views on who chooses to sip Terralta and how these individuals re-calibrate their taste buds through successive tastings.

Personal History

Enrique Ramos, who shares a direct lineage to Pancho Villa, reveals how he got into the business of spirits importation, and what it takes to succeed.

Customer-centric 

Enrique Ramos admits that his greatest allies in the importation/distribution business are his own customers.  And, in the process of taking care of them to best of his abilities, they in turn take care of him.

It’s this kind of customer-centric attitude and attention to detail that will ensure Creo Spirits’–and Terralta’s–success in the long running battle for shelf space.

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

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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.

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