Open Bar with Alan Camarena of G4 Tequila

Open Bar with Alan Camarena of G4 Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5OD Mike Morales interviews Alan Camarena, son of Felipe Camarena, nephew of Carlos Camarena and representative of the 4th generation (G4) of tequila makers at El Pandillo distillery.Mike: Hi, you’re watching Open Bar, on Tequila Aficionado Media. I am Mike Morales. This is a special edition of Open Bar, because that young man there is Alan Camarena. Now, if that name sounds familiar to you, we’ve all heard from his father, Felipe Camarena, Ingeniero Felipe Camarena, and his uncle, Carlos. Well, the reason I wanted to talk to you Alan, is because we have heard such great, wonderful things about G4.

Alan: That’s great.

[chuckle]

Mike: And, it is on fire throughout the United States. The guys who are importing this into the US, Shawn and Jeff, those guys have been working their butts off.

Alan: Oh, I know yeah, yeah. They’ve been doing a great job. We’re really proud with our distributors, nobody that we’ve ever dealt with before has actually had such detailed attention with the customers. So, they really have their eyes on what the consumer is craving for, and they’re actually letting us know, so that we have time to prepare for those steps. They’ve been very attentive at actually getting in person to the bars that actually are doing great with our product, and we have been going there, just to talk about what we do and why we pursue it the way that we do it. So yeah, I would extend a thank you to all of the distributors and their team.

[chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, these guys, PRP Enterprises is the importer, the official importer of G4. Now, what’s interesting to me, Alan, is that you have, in our Sipping Off The Cuff last year, Felipe, Ingeniero Felipe, your father, took what we considered, Best In Show, because it is a rare thing to have three distinct brands coming out of the same distillery, with three distinct flavor profiles. And to do as well equally across the board, on the market and… Explain to me a little bit about how you got involved… ‘Cause, you’re also a DJ, right? You do…

Alan: Yeah, yeah, I produce a lot of music, I record, well, I make a lot of beats. But, going back to the tequila though, I’ve been with my father ever since he started building the distillery. So yeah, I’ve had my time to get bored over there and actually analyze everything in-depth. So, we handle a few different brands, although, all of them share the same quality, most of what has come in to play to make them different, that was like more of a necessary difference, or rather, more of a necessary name change for the difference that it made had to do with the water, because it did change the flavor so dramatically when we went from having a really… Well, I would say… It’s hard to say. It’s unfavorable, rainy season, we ran out of rain water and spring water, so we ended up producing our first batch with deep well water that is being pumped from 150 meters underground. So, when that happened is that well, we of course expected some profile change.

Mike: Right, right.

Alan: Because, of the water source. But, we didn’t expect it to be so dramatic. So, when we got to that point, the first thing that I said to my dad was, “Well, we need to change the name of this product.” “Why?” Because we don’t want people to say, “Hey this is not G4 anymore”, like, “What’s going on in there?” And…

Mike: Right. Yeah, because you know how the public is, they like their consistency especially.

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: Especially in the US. You can go to McDonald’s anywhere in the world, and you know what to expect.

Alan: It’s that for me, I accepted that it might feel shady when something like that happens, when you have a profile and you’re used to a profile, and then something else comes up, you can always think the worst.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah, and sadly, that’s the way the public is. There have been other brands who have rested their tequila, not as long, and then because they’re such small batch, that there’s a difference from batch to batch, and so…

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: You know, the Reposado doesn’t taste as good as the last batches, and people kinda, you know. You’ll get differing opinions on every batch.

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: And so, you guys did the right thing. Explain to people about the rain water; you use a combination of rainwater and well water, is that correct?

Alan: Spring water.

Mike: Spring water.

Alan: Yeah. There’s three water sources, one of them is rain, the other one is spring water, and the other one is the deep well. Although, in the G4 profile, we only stuck to… Well, just centering ourselves to the balance between rain water and spring water.

Mike: So, it’s a 50-50, right?

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: For economic reasons, ’cause if you run out of the rain water, just doing like 100% rainwater, then how are you gonna make more G4, if you don’t have any more water to balance it out, right?

Mike: Right. Right.

Alan: While there is some space to play with it creatively, to eventually make like a 100% rainwater profile, we also acknowledge that as being more expensive because we cannot speculate with the rain. You know?

Mike: Yeah.

Alan: It’s always random.

Mike: It’s like trying to figure out the agave pricing. [laughter]

Alan: Yeah, it’s true. It’s true. It’s somehow chaotic, we do not know when people are gonna start offering their agave more cheaper, and… So, we always gotta hold ourselves to what we have immediately. And, try to keep it safe, instead of just sacrificing and try to play for the risks. ‘Cause otherwise, we’re gonna end up with half a batch of what we could have done.

Mike: And, that’s the beauty of what you’re doing, especially with the natural elements involved, the rain water. ‘Cause, having had all three of the profiles that currently that are coming out of El Pandillo, there is a very distinct difference in the flavor profiles. Some people call it a funkiness, with one brand, as opposed to another. First of all, explain to me, how do you feel being the fourth generation? La cuarta generacion, how did that come about? I’m sure you threw around a whole lot of names. So, how did you get your generation on this, and how does that make you feel?

Alan: Well, it makes me feel fine. It makes me feel great. ‘Cause, right now I’m getting a title that, I feel like, a lot of people, even though they deserve, they don’t really get until later on in their life. Right now, we’re getting introduced into it, we’re sliding into it. Although, my dad’s still in charge of most of the decision making in the distillery, we need to respect that, we are advancing ourselves in the ways that we believe, me and my brother, can make the product better.

Mike: Your brother Luiz, right?

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: Okay. So, are you two… You’re not twins, are you?

Alan: No, we’re not twins, he’s five years older than me.

Mike: Okay, so he would, technically… Is G4 for the both of you or for you?

Alan: Yeah. No, it’s both of us.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: Yeah, we are both the fourth generation of distillers in the family.

Mike: Okay. Here’s an interesting question. I know a family of sotoleros. And, of course, it’s a whole different beverage, but they’re a fifth generation, as well. Their a fourth and fifth. And, what they’ve told me is, when the fourth generation distills a batch, and then the fifth generation distills a batch, they say that they can tell the difference between one hand of the maker, and the other. Even though the recipe is the same. Are you involved in the distillation? Do you supervise that, have you done that on your own yourself?

Alan: Yeah, yeah. I’ve been in every step. Although, currently I’m not really involved. I do not get my hands on on the process, but I supervise it.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: So, yeah. Even at very technical details, me and my dad may differ, and we may actually argue about it. It may actually get pretty bad, ’cause you know how generations are, I think my stuff, he thinks his stuff.

Mike: Sure. [chuckle]

Alan: We still manage to get it all packaged. We try to get an element of every part of the discussion, and try to get the best out of each of the sides that we’d debate about. So, I can totally agree how that can happen. A fifth generation noticing that, even at the distillation process only, there can be a different from the fifth to the fourth.

Mike: Yeah.

Alan: Even despite the agave changes, ’cause it always fluctuates. It always tasted a little different, like every plant is still a different person.

Mike: Right. So, it is kind of interesting that you can actually taste the nuances, the differences between a batch that you supervise versus one that Felipe produces. Now, you’re a very young generation, and because you’re a DJ, you’re out in the public a lot, you’re a producer, you do a lot of that stuff, where do you see your generation headed for, when it comes to handcrafted tequila? Tequila quality, like G4, what are your observations in your generation, in your market, your generation your segment?

Alan: My observations, well, they may be a little crude, ’cause well, I see that first hand, but I…

Mike: Hey, yeah, yeah. Well, you’re in the trenches, you’re right there.

Alan: Yeah. The thing is, I don’t really see much of the interest in my generation like regarding tequila, even around the States. There’s so few of us that actually get our hands on it, or even talk about it, like discuss what tequila is about, around my circles and like the people that I know that produce tequila even though I don’t really talk with them that often…

Mike: Right.

Alan: Is that we are very deep in the cave, there is no spotlight down in the cave, it’s just like a endless debate about what’s going on. But, there really is not much of the public interest from Jalisco, regarding what is good about the tequila. There is more of an interest from people that can relate at a spirits level, you know, other people that also make their own distillates, there’s a lot more discussion that is, I would say, wholesome, from that aspect, people from all around the world that they make their own spirit, we can actually get it more in-depth and talk about stuff that we think we feel is much more important. ‘Cause, at a consumer level, a lot of it gets involved like in the marketing, you know?

Mike: Right.

Alan: How many flowers they put in the image of it.

Mike: Right.

Alan: And, all that kind of stuff. When you talk about like the technicals, you can actually get people bored about it, ’cause you’re talking about it in a different language, you know?

[chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, it is, and I can honestly tell you I’m one of those people, whereas, there are people in our circle, like for instance, one of our tasters, Rick Levy, is so into the science and the distillation and the degrees, and to me, ’cause I never took chemistry in high school, it wasn’t a requirement for the high school I was in. So, the chemistry part of it, loses me. For me there’s… And I guess, this is probably the way it is with most people, there are certain aspects of the process that are more interesting to me. For instance, for me, it’s fermentation. I love talking about the fermentation and listening to other people talk about fermentation because to me, that’s where the magic happens.

Alan: Yeah, yeah, I agree, I agree.

Mike: You know…

Alan: I agree, specifically, because we do, we take a long race when it comes to fermentation. We don’t like rushing things up, we don’t want it like as fast as 24-hour fermentation; we would rather wait like five days, and we still use the same strain that my grandfather used to use. So, we do date back to those things, but we also appreciate that there is some subjective value in that. A lot of people, they may not be so much about sustainability; however, there is still a lot of passioning to the crafting of it.

Mike: Right.

Alan: Like, the entire process, even though it may be super rudimentary, sometimes that is what you want, you know? Somebody is willing to pay top buck for something that is like handcrafted at a very difficult level, despite all the challenges that it involved. So, it can be perceived as something entirely different. You’re not just talking about the quality of a product you’re talking about more qualities that we’re involved in making that product that more than just the juice at the end.

Mike: Right. You know there’s lots of aspects that go into a recipe. It really literally is like cooking a souffle, if you mess it up, it’s gonna fall, so you don’t want it… And, in the case of tequila and distillates in general, you mess it up and it’s gonna cost you an arm and a leg.

Alan: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. It will. I mean, there’s always a little bit of a gamble, I mean. [chuckle] I’m sorry, I was thinking about quoting someone, but I don’t think it’s appropriate. Let’s just let it slide.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: There’s a lot of risk when you’re putting articular in a barrel for instance.

Mike: Yes.

Alan: ‘Cause you don’t know where the barrel’s been and you don’t know what kind of life the tree had and how rich it can be in its aromas, and what property you actually asked to the product that you want. So I feel like the consumer and the producer are both in the same race towards finding something that is very special ’cause the consumer may actually acknowledge that one of the products is special before we actually do it, ’cause we’re just making it. By the time it gets out there, we’ll… Sometimes you don’t get to pick, you know, the barrel was always there, you’re not gonna throw that away.

Mike: Right.

Alan: So I feel like when the producer finds out that is special, that they will definitely be like, “Yeah, I’m gonna hold this for myself.” They don’t really wanna give it away that easily, and I feel like it’s the same for the consumer. Sometimes they find something and it’s so bad, they just wanna burn it down.

Mike: Yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s no saving, there’s no saving it not even in a margarita or in a mix. They just… You wanna just dump it. So when getting back to your generational thing, for me, it’s interesting to me, because marketers… I see things from two different aspects, and I always have. One is from the consumer point of view, the average guy that goes to the liquor store. And then from the marketing aspect of it where the spin happens, and I’ve always felt that our job was to help our followers, our consumers, our readers to see beyond the marketing so that they don’t take that as gospel.

Alan: No, and I agree, I agree that we should find a way to make people appreciate things that are transparent.

Mike: Yeah.

Alan: Instead of having them pay for something that is so flashy and so easy to sell because of a back story that is entirely made up.

Mike: Oh, yeah.

Alan: But it can happen. I mean…

Mike: It’s happened lots of times throughout history.

Alan: I feel like it can be… I’m not trying to say that it’s acceptable, but it can be acceptable if you’re looking at it from a totally different angle. Maybe it’s a designer thing. Maybe the one responsible for putting the money and putting the product out there was thinking… Had a completely different vision that it wasn’t really that important for it to have that thing inside. It was more about everything that surrounded it like when they try to sell you the lifestyle which might be something that people would want like, “Ey, this thing is growing to something bigger, it’s starting to grow into festivals,” and this and that. That can actually happen, and I’m not really against that, but I try to sell my product as transparent as possible, not try to put all the covers in that, trying to sell what’s inside. So that’s what I sell, but all other people can sell other things.

Mike: Well, I love that this has the back story is you guys, you and your brother. For anybody who was with us last year, your… Felipe, your father, was with us at El Cholo in Pasadena, and I gotta tell you, he was a big hit, everybody wanted to spend time with him and have him sign their bottles and he’s a rock star.

Alan: Yeah, he tends to have that effect on people. [chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, yeah, he’s… And it was really wonderful because I had a chance to speak to him while we were setting up, and I didn’t even have a shirt on, because it was one of the warm days, it wasn’t… Not like this past year, but the year before was very warm. It was… The Dodgers were in the World Series. It was a big deal. And I’m standing there, helping set up, and I didn’t have my regular shirt on. So when he showed up, he showed up early and we started talking and the next thing I know there were people being let in, you know, we had spent like 40 minutes talking to each other. And it was just, to me, fascinating because I’d met Carlos before and I’d known Carlos for a while, but Felipe was kind of an enigma to me anyway. I know a lot of folks, a lot of the tequila circles that tend to gravitate toward these rock stars had already met him, but I’d never. And some of them have met you, and this is our first time speaking with each other. So, to me, it’s fascinating because you’re, like it or not, you’re the next generation of tequila.

Mike: What I wanted to find out was, you say that your generation, right now as where you’re standing, isn’t as enamored with what’s inside the bottle, so much as maybe an older generations, is that right? Am I reading this correctly?

Alan: Yes and… Well, I feel like it’s become a little difficult to even pursue as… Like, from an advertiser point of view, to try to sell them stuff, because people are very cynical nowadays. They are always thinking you are trying to sell them something before they actually hear the back end of it. But, at the same time, they’re always vulnerable to being bombarded with countless ads.

Mike: Yes. Yes, well there are some tequila producers out there, the big names, they spend more money on measured media, on measured advertising, than they do making their juice.

Alan: Yeah, and it happens. [laughter]

Mike: Yeah. And, it’s amazing to me. If you would take part of that marketing budget and maybe reinvest it in the community, or do something… Now, the reason I keep harping about your generation, is because of the millennial generation, every marketer in the world wants to market to millennials and the generation that is coming in after them. So, I just wanted to see what your point of view was, because everybody is trying to figure out that millennial marketing keys.

Alan: Like, how to sell it to a millennial? [laughter]

Mike: Yeah, exactly. Because, what’s important to me, and of course everybody’s different, what’s important to me was the handcrafting, and of course, the sustainability. And I am not talking about over-producing, ’cause I know you are all agave growers, as well.

Alan: Yeah. Over-processing, mostly.

Mike: Over-processing. Having to buy now, a mess, but also not over-producing and trying to… Some of the key points of millennials, is that they are more important in a story, they are interested in a story, they were interested in sustainability, and what you do for the environment. They wanna know that what they’re supporting is not only good for them and good to share with friends, but also that they’re not hurting anybody.

Alan: Yeah, well in that sense… I’d also like to clarify, I feel like the American market, and the Mexican market, can have very, very distinct points of view, when it comes down to it. When it boils down to what really matters to them. I feel like both Americans and Mexicans like to feel themselves involved in the story. They wanna be part of the story, and that’s what really can sell it to somebody else like, “Okay tell them, okay, you matter.” “Why?” “Because, you’re here, because this is the proof that you are here with us, that you are making this grow, and if it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here.” That’s some of the stuff that we take very seriously. We try to make it as organic as possible, in the sense that, we’d rather have 10 loyal followers, than having 10 million followers that we can not even like reply to, who don’t know what they’re a fan of, and they don’t take the time to respond. And…

[overlapping conversation]

Mike: So, do you get a lot of fan mail?

Alan: Well, mostly work-related, regarding orders, and all that kind of stuff. And actually getting messages across to my father, ’cause sometimes… My Dad gets really, really deep into the fog of working and keeping his hands busy. So, if he’s not super busy, he’s actually trying to get away from the noise, ’cause he is always getting those messages. And sometimes it’s hard for us even to get them across to him, so that he can make a decision when it comes down to something that only he can decide.

Mike: Wow. Having met him, and like I say, it was only a brief moment and of most of the evening, although it was monopolized by a lot of the guests who had come in to meet him. He seems to be a very… His mind is always cranking, you know what I mean? It’s like he’s always thinking, and he can’t sit still. Is that the way he is?

Alan: Yeah, he is a running engine, and he doesn’t have many gears. He just goes, and that’s it.

[laughter]

Mike: Oh my gosh.

Alan: I’m sorry, Dad, if this offends you, but it’s true.

Mike: No, no. That’s really… I think it’s a great analogy, that he’s so focused, that he just wants to go forward. Tell me some of the challenges that, since you’ve been involved in the family business, that you have come up against and overcome. Are there challenges unique to you and your brother, that you guys had anticipate? Or, is this all pretty much everybody is in the same boat?

Alan: I’d like to say that everybody, including everyone in my generation, is involved in the same boat. The media doesn’t work the same way it worked 10 years ago. So right now, we’ve been, me living in a small town, where there’s not that quality internet that can be available in, I don’t know, Guadalajara, for instance.

Mike: Right.

Alan: You do learn to live with some type of austerity, which is media austerity. You don’t get bombarded by all that media, because you’re not even the target. So, when it comes to that, you also learn that you need to keep your relationships more personal, more like face-to-face, because over the net, nobody feels that they’re involved in anything. Just by posting things on Facebook, nobody actually feels like they relate to you, in any sense. So, it has had to do with, well, making our own trials, and finding our own errors. Like, try not to make the same mistakes again, in terms of how we get out there, and play it safe, in a way. Because, we’re not really gambling on a large budget, regarding the advertising. Our budget, we actually spend on the product. Everything that we do is, we try to make more of the same product, try to make it equal or better quality. Nothing less. My dad has always had that philosophy where, if you need to sacrifice the quality just to make more liters, then that’s a dead zone. You don’t go in there. And we, me and my brother, we both believe in that.

Mike: Excellent, excellent. So, that’s good. Are you guys ready to take over one day?

[chuckle]

Alan: Well, I don’t feel like I’m ready, because I’ve… Well, you know, it’s family struggles, you know? But I guess, when it comes, I’ll just know what to do, except you can never expect it, you don’t feel like it’s gonna happen next week. If I knew that it was gonna happen at some point, then I would look forward to it and I would start building up to that point, but since I really don’t well, I’ll just live day by day.

[chuckle]

Mike: So when… I know that Shawn and Jeff who are the importers of G4, they’ve had you out to do tastings, is that correct? Have you done a couple?

Alan: Yeah. Yeah, tastings, and to talk about the process. We are usually very forward when it comes to what we’re selling, to talk about the process, or how we do it.

Mike: So, what do you find is the common question from the American public, when you do these appearances?

Alan: Well, I don’t know, I tend to just take over the mic, because a lot of people don’t really know what to ask. And, I’ve seen a lot of people presenting, and they never have the angle that we have, and we are pretty straightforward. We’re not very… We’re not political, we don’t go around the bush. We’d rather say it like, “Cut the crap and let’s talk about the real thing.” And, overall, I feel like it’s been evolving with me, as I’ve been growing with the process. It’s like, at first, the first thing that I acknowledge is that we are doing things the way that they should be done, nothing special. It is the way that has existed since my grandfather, since my great-grandfather, and since even before probably. The only difference that we see from our brand, and a lot of other different brands, is that we are just trying to sell you that. We are not making a super fancy bottle, we are not expending ourselves in a super difficult cork that… We do try to go around those challenges, because we find no passion in having a nice cork.

Mike: Yeah, no, I agree with you. I think, it’s interesting to see the change in the logo and the look of each of the three brands that are coming, and you’re gonna have another brand coming out of El Pandillo, shortly.

Alan: Yeah, yeah, that is right.

Mike: What’s that process like? Because, I’m sure that you guys vet… First of all, I’m sure you guys get pounded by people that want you to make their tequila, right?

[chuckle]

Alan: Yeah, right, it happens so often.

Mike: It happens. So, it must take you a lot for you to say, “You know what, I agree with you. Yeah, we’ll work with you.” What is that process like? Because you must say no more often than yes.

Alan: Well, it does take time. It is a little time-consuming, because well, first off, you don’t wanna offend anyone that tries to work with you, that’s for starters. And second is, a lot of people don’t really have a notion of how much money it takes to make a brand, and also, how much we would be giving away by putting our liters in somebody else’s bottle.

Mike: Oh yeah, yeah.

Alan: So, for the long term, we are business people. If we can both come to an agreement where we both, where we both find the benefit, and I mean true benefit, not just numbers. Because when you talk about the numbers, it’s really easy to just focus on what makes you a profit, and you overlook the fact that… Well, here in Mexico, working with a brand, and actually it involves a lot of coming and going, and seeing a lot of legal fees, and discussing issues that, usually people that want us to make their brand, they’re not really willing to make that process themselves. They want us to do their, like their homework. So, it involves costs that are non-monetary, it’s more about the willingness of us to actually pursue that for them, and there can be a lot of misunderstandings. So, I believe that we are open people to negotiating, but it has to be both ends. And, I feel like it is the same for everybody. As long as they can find a win-win situation, they wouldn’t say no.

Mike: Well, there’s a lot to be said about maquiladoras, that have many successful brands that come out of there. But, El Pandillo is very… And, the Camarena name, has a cache that’s different, and so, it’s attractive, I’m sure. But, as I said, you guys probably wind up saying no to a lot more people, than you actually say yes to. So, what I find fascinating, is the fact that each of the three brands are being imported by three different companies. Who decides what one bottle will look like versus the other? Because the Terralta bottle, of course, is just the reverse of this one. With, of course, a different look and different graphics. And then, Pasote is completely out of left field.

Alan: Well, for Pasote, we’re not involved in design, which I love, I really love the design that they came up with for Pasote. Well, the G4 has its own story; we had been working with designers for a while, but at some point it became a little troublesome, because we weren’t landing any of the ideas. We were just like drawing with a lot of concepts, and we wanted to make a label that was elegant, not necessarily expensive, just elegant. Like, just classy, keep it classy, keep simple, not too expensive, and there you go. That’s what we came up with. But, we actually ended up we actually ended up outsourcing to more designers in order to get that done, from the pieces that the previous designer gave us, and he never actually gave us the full label. So, that that was our labor to just finish it up, in a way.

Mike: Wow.

Alan: Well, for Terralta, we worked with a different designer, and while we took some of the options, in a sense, the Terralta is a lot more minimalistic. It is stripped down from more of the flashy elements, and it just comes down to the clarity of the bottle. Since we already had our own bottle, which involves having a very large lot of bottles made, for it to be cost effective, it already saved us a step. So, we only played with the bottle, and we flipped it around, we added that label, and that’s how you get the Terralta.

Mike: Yeah. It’s the coolest thing. Now, what, who… Terralta that has six different expressions.

Alan: Yes, that’s right.

Mike: Do you see adding maybe two more expressions into G4?

Alan: I feel like it is being demanded, and I don’t even know why we haven’t done it before. But, that is definitely upcoming.

Mike: Here’s my question, is it gonna taste similar to Terralta?

Alan: No, no. Like…

Mike: Okay. So, in other words, your barrel strength in your 110 of G4, there are samples of those somewhere in your home in your lab, and you already have those and you know that they already tasted different, they taste more in line with the G4.

Alan: Yeah. Yeah, they don’t taste like Terralta.

Mike: Really, okay.

Alan: There’s a few steps that affect the taste. A lot of people may differ on which one is better, whether it’s the Terralta or the G4. I personally love the Terralta, because I’m a punk head, you know?

Mike: Yeah, I know.

Mike: I think we’re back, man. There we go.

Alan: Yeah, I had some problems, my phone ran out of battery in the middle of the conversation.

Mike: I know. So, you were saying you’re a punk, so you like the Terralta.

Alan: I like the Terralta…

Mike: Is that because it’s at a higher ABV, or what?

Alan: No, not related with the higher ABV. I actually like the lower proof because you get more of a water character in there.

Mike: Oh, no kidding? Okay.

Alan: Well, people that have tried tequila for a long time, well, they’re used to having some sort of flavor profile that they’re looking for, right? So, when it comes to Terralta, you get to notice that there is another note that just gets in there, that adds this noise, this dirty noise, it is like having a good tasting stone, like…

Mike: Yes. Yeah.

[overlapping conversation]

Alan: Terralta falls in there.

Mike: It’s the minerality, right? That you…

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: See, I enjoy that. I personally like that a lot. And, I guess you run across a lot of people who have different preferences with all three of the brands.

Alan: Yeah, as for the purists, you cannot really tell them that which one’s better than which one.

Mike: No.

Alan: It really has to do with what you’re looking for, what you’re expecting. And, in that sense, it’s like, I would be wrong to say, “Well, no. Terralta is better. I just like it better”. I don’t know, I’m young and as I said, I’m more of a punk.

[laughter]

Alan: I don’t like stuff that’s just cookie cutter formulas.

Mike: Right. Yeah. You like you your tequilas to have character.

Alan: Yeah, exactly.

Mike: So, you prefer tequilas at a lower ABV, you don’t enjoy the higher proof ones, or?

Alan: This would only be in the case of the Terralta. Of course, I prefer the higher proof G4. Because, well, you get that character, that’s emphasized, it becomes so much stronger. Whereas, in the Terralta, when you don’t water it down as much, you don’t get that much from the water. So since that is the character Terralta, I prefer the 40, although, I can obviously drink the higher proof, although I feel like it sits somewhere in between, ’cause now there is more of the G4 character in there.

Mike: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, is it true that Felipe, and maybe yourself involved, that when you seek barrels for aging, you’re looking for the oldest barrels around, is that correct? That’s the story we’ve been fed.

Alan: Yeah. It feels a little overly stated, but it is true. We don’t like the barrels that are young. Well, that have only been used maybe, once or twice.

Mike: Mm-hmm.

Alan: We like the barrels a bit aged, a bit seasoned, because then you can actually appreciate more of the agave character in a tequila once it ages. Because my father doesn’t like the profile of it being too similar to a whiskey. He doesn’t want it to feel that aged, so he just lets the tequila in the barrel, and as long as it remains in the barrel, that’s what we put on the label. Is it ripe or old? And then we don’t really specify in the label, how many months it’s been aged.

Mike: Right, right.

Alan: But yeah, it can also vary, ’cause we also do the tasting and the profiling, because in the end, you end up blending a bunch of barrels together, just get one consistent lot. Otherwise, it is more expensive to have a single barrel, because you need to certify each barrel, you need to get it approved, and once it gets approved, you need to pass it through the solid removing filters. Well, there’s some of that tequila that’s gonna get stuck in that filter, so you lose at least two, three liters per batch.

Mike: Oh, wow.

Alan: So, everytime you do a batch and you try to do it with a single barrel, there’s gonna be that added cost. It’s not too much, but the more dramatic cost that is being added for the certification, because each barrel that you try to release a single barrel you pay a flat fee for it to get approved.

Mike: Right, wow. So, yeah. This is all… It really is all about, not so much cutting corners, but making it cost effective for you, and of course, down the road the consumer, as well.

Alan: Yeah, of course. Because, the consumer really doesn’t want the prices to be out of hand. They want to be able to afford it. So, they will always ask, “Why is this more expensive than that?” There’s that reason, and also, the reason might be the scarcity. Because it’s not the same to blend a barrel with another barrel and expect to make it somehow sit in the average of both. Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Sometimes it’s more like a dysfunctional family, everyone’s yelling. [laughter] It happens like that. It is also a gamble, which barrels you wanna blend with which. ‘Cause it’s not that intuitive. At first, I thought it would be like that, but then I came to, what I would say, a strange idea, of trying to blend an extra Anejo with a Blanco. I tasted both separately, and then I tasted the mixture of both together, and it literally blew my mind. Because it accentuated some of the character in the extra, and also some of the character in the Blanco. So, it wasn’t like an average of what it was, it’s not like a de-aged tequila; it’s more of a mixture of two different things. So, when you blend them, you have to experiment with it. It’s very empirical, it’s nothing that you have theory.

Mike: Would you consider that then a G4 Joven?

Alan: Yeah, that would be a Joven.

Mike: Are we gonna see a G4 Joven one day, maybe?

Alan: I don’t think so. I think we’re gonna see the Blanco, and we’re gonna see the extra, and people may start to try that out. But, for us to want to make a Joven, it becomes like a… I don’t know.

Mike: Is it too gimmicky?

Alan: Gimmicky, and it also seems like a strange idea to want to blend two things that are perfectly fine. ‘Cause then, how would you price it? It would be crazy. You would also have to average out the price point of that thing. I think it’s possible, maybe it can be a thing. But, I would also like, for the short term, would have to discuss this with my father.

Mike: Of course. Of course.

Alan: When I get my hands on the decision, then I will have to check my bank account, and see how I’m doing.

[laughter]

Mike: Oh my gosh. So, here’s another question and another example, what do you think of the new Cristalino Anejos?

Alan: I think we’ve had the discussion over and over.

[laughter]

Mike: Because… The reason I ask of course, it’s becoming a thing. It’s a category, whether we like it or not. And because you age you’re tequilas in some of the older barrels, what would… I asked this of another master distiller that we interviewed not too long ago, I said, “Why? You’ve taken all this labor to age something beautifully, and then you’re gonna take it and strip it.” But, what he told me was, “Ultimately you are working for a customer, and if this is what the customer wants, then we’re going to try to perfect a version that would be favorable.”

Alan: It’s a fair product, however, it is not what… We’ve been going around it in the forums, and almost consensually it is not a product for somebody who is very passionate about the tequila process, it’s more about having a fancy product on your table. Because it is more expensive to make, and it doesn’t reach at that much other than the image of what it is. As far as I know, it could have been better before, it just looks a little nicer. ‘Cause now you get with this renewed image. It’s more of a designer thing. And if you like paying for designer stuff, then be my guest. But if you just want the thing and wanna pay the fair price just go for the extras, or go for the Anejos.

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

Alan: That would be my recommendation.

Mike: I totally agree with you. It’s just interesting for me to ask different people in the industry, especially those who are producing tequilas, not only for themselves, but for other customers, and to see where that category is fitting in right now. Before I let you go, we’ve spent some wonderful time with you, Alan, thank you so much. If there’s one thing that you want people to know about G4, or about El Pandillo, in general, what would it be? If you had like one thing that you wanted to tell people about about it, what would you say?

Alan: Well, one thing that I would like to say for everyone to hear is, our money is not being put in the advertising. So, yeah, you may not fall in love with the image of it, but just taste it and tell us what you think. So far, where we’re confident with that. The response has been mostly positive. People do think that it is worth it, that the things that we’re doing and the things that we’re omitting. ‘Cause, otherwise if we were to invest that much into the advertising you would see that reflected on the price of the bottle as well. ‘Cause, that’s how things happen.

Mike: Yeah. No, I totally agree with you. I love… You know, your father, Felipe, has been known as the mad scientist, because of the profiles, and the whole distillery in general. People can go online and they can visit El Pandillo.

Alan: That’s also very flattering, although, it actually came from people literally calling my dad, “Crazy guy.” ‘Cause he had all these ideas that nobody would implement, ’cause they wouldn’t take the risk of doing that. My father just talked them out. And he’s like, “Hey this is viable, let’s just do it.” And now, we’ve got Frankenstein, which is the Tahona that crushes the agave. Now we’ve got Igor, which is the thing that…

Mike: The Shredder?

Alan: Yeah, the shredder exactly. And, so these pieces didn’t exist, but now I’m seeing prototypes of new things that are based on that. I just saw another Tahona, I saw my first Tahona, that is based on Frankenstein.

Mike: Oh, really?

Alan: Yeah, I saw it first-hand, about two or three miles away from here. They were building it. The same guy that built it for us. So I’m excited to see that happen, and I feel like we’ve definitely built the road for others to walk through in terms of how they can process their own tequila in ways that are more creative, so to speak.

Mike: Well, I think that’s outstanding. I love… Please give your dad a big hug for me, and for you and your brother. I’m so glad that we had this time to kick around some ideas. And you took the time. And I know we’ve had some technical difficulties on both ends. But it turned out great, thanks again for being with us here on Open Bar. I’m Mike…

Alan: Thank you, thank you. It’s an honor for me to be here finally. I’ve been following your interviews in the past. So, yeah, for me to be here… I feel like it was my turn to be in the spotlight.

Mike: Yeah, it’s your turn to jump in the barrel. [laughter]

Alan: My time to jump in the barrel, for sure. [chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, man. Hey, thanks again for spending the time with us and please give my best you to your dad, Felipe, and your brother. And hopefully on our next trip out there, we’ll be able to swing by and see you guys if you happen to be in town, or maybe you’ll come up to Texas here to the San Antonio where I live.

Alan: Yeah, yeah. I’m down. I was there recently, but…

Mike: Yeah, you were, we were in California.

Alan: Our schedule was tight. We just went there. We made a couple of talks about it and then we’re back. I’m eager to come back, we’re not that far away. Just take a flight, go check it out.

Mike: Build bridges, instead of walls, pal. That’s what I care about. Thanks again for being with us on Open Bar. Thank you again for putting up with our technical difficulties. And again, have yourself a great rest of your afternoon, I appreciate the time, and as soon as this is up we’ll let everybody know. Okay? So, thanks again. Thank you, Alan, I appreciate it.

Alan: Have a nice day, Mike.

Mike: You too man, take care.

[chuckle]

Mike: Bye bye.

# End #

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila

Bloodshed

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mAOn Jan. 22, 2018, a particularly savvy tequila brand owner announced in a private message to this office:

“Agave prices out of control.  $22/kilo.  Industry getting destroyed!”

Coincidentally, earlier that same day, another brand owner/ambassador admitted to us that the current cost had blown up to $24/kilo.

That savvy brand owner then added to his message–

“…but Cuervo started it.  Bought up a ton of [agave] before their IPO.  Increase balance sheet.  That’s, at least, the word on the street.”

But, shit got REAL for Jose Cuervo when…

Cuervo Cries Wolf

In this El Financiero article dated December 21, 2017, Francisco Beckmann Vidal, owner of Tierra de Agaves and Jose Cuervo, warned of a looming agave shortage.  He…

“…urged agave producers to increase plantings because whether in tons or in number of agaves, the industry requires more of your prime material.  Planting must begin now.  Eyes have to be opened and decisions need to be made.  Only the industry can provoke the necessary changes.”

[“…instó a los productores agaveros a que incrementen los plantíos porque tanto en toneladas o en número de agaves la industria cada vez requiere de más de sus materia prima, “hay que empezar a plantar desde ahorita. Hay que abrir los ojos y tomar decisiones. Solamente la industria es la que va a provocar estos cambios que se necesitan hacer.”]

Like Shaggy said–

It wasn’t me!

 Here’s Your Sign

All the signs of an impending shortage were there.  Major spirits distributors, tequila and even mezcal brands jockeyed for position in the Agave Triple Crown race.

In 2015, Diageo, the world’s largest producer of spirits, swapped its Bushmills Irish The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mAwhiskey brand for Don Julio, previously owned by José Cuervo.

After Cuervo’s early February 2017 initial public offering, Davos Brands acquired a controlling interest in Master Sommelier Richard Betts’ Sombra Mezcal and Astral Tequila brands, in March.

Then, in early June 2017, spirits and wine behemoth, Pernod Ricard, purchased a significant stake in founder Ron Cooper’s beloved Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals amid uproar from long time fans claiming “sell out.”

Later that June, in a surprising move, Diageo bought Casamigos tequila, co-founded by celebs George Clooney and Rande Gerber, for up to $1 billion.

All this time, Bacardi, lurking like a shark in the water, in January 2018, bared its jaws and swallowed up Patron for a reported $5.1 billion.

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mA

Pernod Ricard, in an attempt to get the last word in January 2018, shelled out the big bucks to purchase the remaining 16% of Ken Austin’s Avion tequila that it had invested $100 million in back in 2014.

M & A was the name of the game in the spirits distribution sector, too.

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

Real, or Fake?

Some skeptics still don’t believe that an agave shortage exists.

Unlike the more seasoned, and–dare I say–older sippers, this may be the first time Millennials and Gen Xers have ever experienced a truly severe Agave Crisis.

Others completely ignore the fact declaring an upcoming tequila boom, instead, instigated by the Big Three named above.

Even in this article in the Spirits Business, Vinexpo, the leading wine and spirits trade show, and IWSR (International Wine & Spirits Research) predict that:

“The fastest-growing spirit category in terms of volume will be Tequila, which is predicted to increase by 118% between 2016 and 2021 to 35m cases.”

Seriously?

 Thank You, Captain Obvious

We told you last year this was coming.The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mA

Weren’t you paying attention?

In the article The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thought we outlined the reasons for the then looming crisis.

Still, you bought ALL the tequila and mezcal you could drink, didn’t you?

The Numbers Don’t Lie

According to DISCUS, 17.2 million cases of tequila were sold in 2017.  3.2 million of those cases were in the pricey Super Premium category, alone.

Must have been a good year for some of you.

On the Mexico side of the border, things aren’t so rosy.

Freak Out

According to these articles in Joe  , Telam , and Reuters

“This year [2018], a total of 42 million agave plants were projected to supply 140 registered companies.  However, only 17.7 million of those planted in 2011 are ready to be harvested, the Tequila Regulatory Council and National Tequila Industry Chamber have said.”

That’s assuming producers are using full grown agave.  As explained in the above articles–including our own–2 to 4 year old immature agaves are being sold, as well.

With the use of diffusers by the large producers like Sauza and Bacardi (Cazadores), the age of agave plants used to make tequila is irrelevant.

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mA

About Those Stolen Agave

For several years, now, growers in Oaxaca had reported that truckloads of stolen (or purchased) espadin used to make mezcal were headed for tequila distilleries in Jalisco.

Now, a reported 15,000 blue agave plants have been hijacked from blue agave growers supplying the Big Boys.  That’s triple the amount reported in 2016.

It is presumed that these pilfered plants were going to los mieleros (Big Pharma) since they pay bigger bucks for blue weber agave.

So, there is some poetic justice during this Agave Crisis.

 The Blame Game

As much as major metropolitan areas would like to believe that they carry this much clout, cities like New York are NOT to blame.

On the other hand, brands like Houston based Pura Vida blames the Big Guys, too.

Austin based Dulce Vida tequila agrees.

And, one more for good measure from this small brand owner via LinkedIn on February 5, 2018:

[“The sad reality for small producers that depend on purchasing ripe agave that results in extraordinary 100% blue agave tequila is that the Large Makers are the ones who have stockpiled huge quantities of premature agave.  But the 4 year old plants don’t yield good tequila.  Moreover, it requires double the amount of prime material [agave] for the production of tequila.  In short, the very same Large Producers have aggravated the problem and devastated the cultivation of blue agave.”]

While we’re pointing fingers, let’s accuse the real culprit of this economic and agricultural mess, shall we?

Greed

In October 2017, we spoke to Master Distiller of G4, Terralta, and Pasote–and agave grower–Felipe Camarena.

Minutes before the VIP Hour of El Cholo’s yearly Tequila Tour began, he briefly outlined to me in simple mathematical terms, how much per kilo he’d require to make a nice, honest living growing agave.

The amount was not unreasonable.  In fact, it was in the single digit range.

By waiting at the last minute, and selling to the highest bidder, Camarena blamed the greed of amateur agave growers for the skyrocketing maguey prices.

How Long?

How long will this agave crisis last?

In January 29, 2018, Master Distiller of Tapatio and Tequila Villa Lobos, Carlos Camarena, gave this gloomy prediction:

What… Me Worry?

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mA

Not everyone is worried, however.  Pernod isn’t

And neither are George and Rande.  Having pocketed their nearly $1 billion, they’re venturing into mezcal, now.

The Agave Panic of 2018: Bloodshed on the Streets of Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5mA

Be afraid–

Be VERY afraid!

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour

A Southern California Tradition

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Pasadena, California’s landmark El Cholo Cafe Restaurant’s Tequila Tour has been a major community event for the past 17 years.  Commemorating its 94th year serving authentic Mexican cuisine to Southern California, the October 27, 2017 edition was destined to be special.

Also in 2017, Tequila Aficionado was celebrating its 18th anniversary of the very first Sipping Off The Cuff© podcast episode taped at the family-owned eatery’s original Pasadena location.

Needless to say, it was an honor when El Cholo’s owner, Blair Salisbury, graciously asked Tequila Aficionado Media to anchor an exclusive VIP Hour during El Cholo’s Tequila Tour, and to share the fine craft agave spirits accompanying us on our 2017 Wild Wild West Tour.

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Flawlessly guided by El Cholo’s point man for this shindig, consultant Alex Delgado, we were given the restaurant’s intimate West Patio to showcase the Brand of Promise(c) nominees that traveled with us throughout the month of October.

A Very Special Guest

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uuDays before the El Cholo Tequila Tour, with help from the fine folks at PKGD Media who handle publicity for Tequila G4, we managed to convince the “Mad Scientist” of tequila, Felipe Camarena, to make an unscheduled guest appearance at El Cholo’s fiesta.

It was enlightening to discuss the state of the Tequila Industry from a long time agave grower’s point-of-view.  Of great concern was the ongoing Agave Crisis, the ramifications of an agave shortage, and what Felipe considered was the real cause of the problems.

[*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 VIP Hour

Before we knew it, employees of El Cholo’s opened the floodgates of the West Patio to the VIP Hour.

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Joined by CMO Lisa Pietsch, Tequila Aficionado’s Founder, Alex Perez, and Tequila TJs Dave Dinius and Rick Levy, as well as some Brand of Promise(c) representatives, we were instantly surrounded by the smiling faces of dozens of passionate tequila aficionados.

These anxious VIPs were more than ready to sample some of the finest small batch, micro-distilled and handcrafted agave spirits that may or may not have been available, yet, in California.

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Where It All Started

Mid-way through the VIP Hour, Blair, Alex, and myself took a few minutes to reminisce about that first podcast, and how each of our endeavors had grown exponentially with the demand for 100% de agave tequila, and now, mezcals.

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Alex and I even took a moment to record a brief audio podcast memorializing the humble beginnings of Sipping Off the Cuff(c).

End of The Trail

El Cholo’s regularly scheduled Tequila Tour went off without a hitch, while almost everybody who had purchased VIP tickets lingered throughout the rest of the evening.

It was very gratifying to meet and greet so many fans and followers, to answer their burning questions on the participating Brands of Promise(c), and to experience the level of sophistication of the current crop of agave spirits consumers, whether newbies or seasoned sippers.

To Continue the Battle The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Constant and continuing education on agave spirits is a must these days.

El Cholo’s yearly Tequila Tour is not just an event designed to savor authentic Mexican cuisine, but to also elegantly enjoy your continuing agave spirits education.

We look forward to joining forces once again with El Cholo in 2018 to, as Felipe Camarena put it, “Para darle la guerra.”

You can view more photos of El Cholo’s 2017 Tequila Tour here.

 

 

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

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.

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Tequila Aficionado Media Hits the Trail for the 2017 Wild Wild West Tour

Wrangles Agave Spirit Brands of Promise for History Making Promotional Roundup

For Immediate Release!

SAN ANTONIO, TX, UNITED STATES, October 3, 2017

Like the early settlers of the frontier, Tequila Aficionado Media goes west.  Driving a prairie schooner (actually, a travel trailer) loaded with distilled agave spirits—26 brands with 58 distinct expressions in all–to share at private events, public pairing dinners, pop up seminars, and educational catas (tastings) throughout the month of October.

Each yearly tour celebrates Brand of Promise© winners and nominees elected during Tequila Aficionado’s thunderingly popular Sipping Off The Cuff© video and audio reviews.

“Our tours are all about co-creating meaningful brand stories for craft agave spirits worthy of the public’s attention,” explains Lisa Pietsch, CMO of Tequila Aficionado Media and Co-Founder of TequilaPR.

“According to current statistics,” states Mike Morales, CEO of Tequila Aficionado Media and Co-Founder of TequilaPR, “three of the top ten tequila consuming states is out west, and that’s exactly where we’re headed.”

With the determination of the Pony Express, Tequila Aficionado Media’s Wild Wild West 2017 Tour will barnstorm to rowdy saloons and ghost towns in Van Horn, Texas, White Sands, New Mexico, and Tombstone, Arizona.

Where we’ve been during the #wildwildwest2017 tour.

A post shared by Tequila Aficionado (@tequilaaficionado) on

On the route is a whistle stop at the famed Elvira’s Tequila Cocina Vino in Tucson, Arizona where Terralta Tequila from legendary 3rd Generation Master Distiller Felipe Camarena will be introduced along with an exciting new menu.

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

Glitz, glamour, and glamping are reserved for a special visit with Torch Cigar Bar and Lounge in Phoenix, hosted by the award winning Embajador tequila.

Inspired by the California Gold Rush, Tequila Aficionado’s Wild Wild West Tour rough rides toward La Jolla for a private interview with tequila Dos Almas’ founder Emilio DeSoto.

The following evening, a tequila pairing dinner with DesMaDre tequila is on tap at Sol Mexican Cocina in Newport Beach.

On location in Los Angeles, there will be two more private catas held by Revel Avila blue agave spirit, and Tres Ochos tequila.

During the public and private tastings, the “jarrito” tumbler–a new experimental glass designed specifically for tasting and serving tequila, mezcal, and other agave spirits–will be showcased.

Developed by Chisholm Trail Craft Glasses in Austin, Texas, the jarrito tumbler is expected to revolutionize the glassware industry by being more aesthetic and organoleptically accurate than other vessels currently used to sample and judge Mexican agave spirits.

The end of the trail will be celebrated at the landmark El Cholo Cafe Restaurant’s annual Tequila Tour in Pasadena.  El Cholo’s Tequila Tour commemorates its 94th year serving authentic Mexican cuisine to Southern California.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Ba20AHRDvbR/?taken-by=tequilaaficionado

Tequila Aficionado Media will anchor an exclusive VIP Hour inside El Cholo’s Tequila Tour to honor the 18th anniversary of the first Sipping Off The Cuff© podcast taped at the iconic eatery.

“The range of agave spirits on this year’s Wild Wild West 2017 Tour is some of the finest sampling of Mexican agave spirits we’ve ever travelled with,” declares Morales.  “We urge you to try them for yourself.”

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For a complete list of participating agave spirits on the Wild Wild West 2017 Tour, click here.  For ticket information on El Cholo’s Tequila Tour, go here or call 626-795-5800.  More about Chisholm Trail Craft Glasses is here.

G4 Extra Anejo Tequila Review

Mike Morales & Rick Levy taste and discuss G4 Tequila Extra Anejo from Master Distiller Felipe Camarena.

About G4’s Master Distiller:

FELIPE CAMARENA

Felipe Camarena has an undeniable passion for making great tequila. His family heritage combined with his engineering background has led to a distillery like none other at El Pandillo. Felipe is uncompromising in crafting pure luxury tequila by both honoring traditions like copper stills and stone ovens and using only their own mature agave plants, but also innovating by distilling with harvested rainwater, creating stone ovens that evenly cook the tequila, taking out the internal “male parts” of the agave to remove bitterness, recycling the cooked agave and turning it into fertilizer. Watch the video to hear some thoughts from the Master Distiller himself.

THE CAMARENA FAMILY

Sipping Off the Cuff | G4 Tequila Extra Anejo http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5bAThe Camarena Family has been making tequila since 1937, crafting some of the world’s best tequilas for generations. Where Felipe and his sons have established El Pandillo Distillery is a place where they honor their family’s proud tequila tradition and quality standards while innovating for today. The name of the distillery, El Pandillo was the name of Felipe’s grandfather’s favorite bull and the tahona stone you see was the only surviving piece of what would have been their family’s distillery during the Revolution.

G4 Anejo Tequila Review

Mike Morales & Rick Levy taste and discuss G4 Tequila Anejo from Master Distiller Felipe Camarena.

About G4’s Master Distiller:

FELIPE CAMARENA

Felipe Camarena has an undeniable passion for making great tequila. His family heritage combined with his engineering background has led to a distillery like none other at El Pandillo. Felipe is uncompromising in crafting pure luxury tequila by both honoring traditions like copper stills and stone ovens and using only their own mature agave plants, but also innovating by distilling with harvested rainwater, creating stone ovens that evenly cook the tequila, taking out the internal “male parts” of the agave to remove bitterness, recycling the cooked agave and turning it into fertilizer. Watch the video to hear some thoughts from the Master Distiller himself.

THE CAMARENA FAMILY

Sipping Off the Cuff | G4 Tequila Anejo http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5bzThe Camarena Family has been making tequila since 1937, crafting some of the world’s best tequilas for generations. Where Felipe and his sons have established El Pandillo Distillery is a place where they honor their family’s proud tequila tradition and quality standards while innovating for today. The name of the distillery, El Pandillo was the name of Felipe’s grandfather’s favorite bull and the tahona stone you see was the only surviving piece of what would have been their family’s distillery during the Revolution.

G4 Reposado Tequila Review

Mike Morales & Rick Levy taste and discuss G4 Tequila Reposado from Master Distiller Felipe Camarena.

About G4’s Master Distiller:

FELIPE CAMARENA

Felipe Camarena has an undeniable passion for making great tequila. His family heritage combined with his engineering background has led to a distillery like none other at El Pandillo. Felipe is uncompromising in crafting pure luxury tequila by both honoring traditions like copper stills and stone ovens and using only their own mature agave plants, but also innovating by distilling with harvested rainwater, creating stone ovens that evenly cook the tequila, taking out the internal “male parts” of the agave to remove bitterness, recycling the cooked agave and turning it into fertilizer. Watch the video to hear some thoughts from the Master Distiller himself.

THE CAMARENA FAMILY

Sipping Off the Cuff | G4 Tequila Reposado http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5byThe Camarena Family has been making tequila since 1937, crafting some of the world’s best tequilas for generations. Where Felipe and his sons have established El Pandillo Distillery is a place where they honor their family’s proud tequila tradition and quality standards while innovating for today. The name of the distillery, El Pandillo was the name of Felipe’s grandfather’s favorite bull and the tahona stone you see was the only surviving piece of what would have been their family’s distillery during the Revolution.

G4 Blanco Tequila Review

Mike Morales & Rick Levy taste and discuss G4 Tequila Blanco from Master Distiller Felipe Camarena.

About G4’s Master Distiller:

FELIPE CAMARENA

Felipe Camarena has an undeniable passion for making great tequila. His family heritage combined with his engineering background has led to a distillery like none other at El Pandillo. Felipe is uncompromising in crafting pure luxury tequila by both honoring traditions like copper stills and stone ovens and using only their own mature agave plants, but also innovating by distilling with harvested rainwater, creating stone ovens that evenly cook the tequila, taking out the internal “male parts” of the agave to remove bitterness, recycling the cooked agave and turning it into fertilizer. Watch the video to hear some thoughts from the Master Distiller himself.

THE CAMARENA FAMILY

Sipping Off the Cuff | G4 Tequila Blanco http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5bxThe Camarena Family has been making tequila since 1937, crafting some of the world’s best tequilas for generations. Where Felipe and his sons have established El Pandillo Distillery is a place where they honor their family’s proud tequila tradition and quality standards while innovating for today. The name of the distillery, El Pandillo was the name of Felipe’s grandfather’s favorite bull and the tahona stone you see was the only surviving piece of what would have been their family’s distillery during the Revolution.