How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas

The Bing Crosby Effect

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Influencer Marketing is a hot social media buzz phrase that can be directly attributed to Bing Crosby.

From the moment the famed crooner, and fellow entertainer and business partner, Phil Harris, imported Herradura, the first 100% agave tequila into the US, celebrity endorsements of alcoholic beverages have influenced American’s buying habits–

And, become an all too common occurrence.

This article traces the history of influencer marketing, from the early days of cinema to a new kind of social media personality, the influencer.

I Wanna be Like Mike

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Continuing that tradition, celebs like Diddy (DeLeon), George Clooney (Casamigos), Sammy Hagar (Cabo Wabo, and now, Mezquila), and Justin Timberlake (Sauza 901) are just a few of the A-listers peddling agave spirits.

It can be argued that desire for a megastar endorsed item is fueled by our emotional attachment to the star himself.

Hence, the more we care about a renowned personality, the more we “want to be like Mike.”

Celebrity Covetousness

Noel Shu is Chief Luxury Officer and Head Sommelier at Prodiguer Brands, Ltd.  The “Prince of Luxury,” and the man responsible for the most expensive champagne in the world, (Goût de Diamants) explains here why celebrity affiliation works for luxury items.

“No matter what, the rest of the world is keeping tabs on the rich and famous.  In order to be more like them, many go out of their way to get what celebrities have,” asserts Shu.

“Beneath the pretense of glam, money and prestige, a purchase boils down to one thing: familiarity.  It is mental association at work.”

Shu determines, “When a person is constantly reminded that their favorite actor is wearing or using a product, they begin gravitating towards the item themselves.”

The danger in promoting celebrity covetousness in agave spirits brand marketing is that it’s shallow, superficial, and unmemorable.

The emotional bond between your label and your customer, like a sample from a tequila girl in a black mini-skirt, is fleeting, at best.

Intimacy Can be Measured

On the flip side, a very enlightening website reveals a brand’s intimacy quotient.How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50U

MBLM states that “brand intimacy is a new paradigm that leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.”

Before I get to how this new level of marketing relates to agave spirits branding, let me point out a couple of Tequila Market growth facts, courtesy of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).

Who Cares About Luxury?

According to DISCUS, the fastest growth in 2016 has been in High End and Super Premium brands.

Virtually a non-existent segment before 2002, volumes of Super Premium tequilas have zoomed 706% to 2.9 million cases.

Intimacy by the Numbers

Taking a look at the Beverages category as a whole on the MBLM site, we discover that its intimacy quotient falls almost 4 points below the cross industry average.

Most notably, though, the Luxury division practically brings up the rear, a full 13 points below the industry median!

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The numbers for Mexico are even more eye-opening (Abreojos?) with both Jose Cuervo and Herradura (Brown-Forman) at the bottom of the Top 10 Mexican Beverage labels of 2017.

Of the last two tequila marks, only Jose Cuervo is still Mexican owned.

Power to the People

“Brands are in the hands of consumers today,” says MBLM.

A true statement since, chances are, you’re reading this on your preferred handheld device.

MBLM goes on to preach,”…people trust one another more than they trust a corporation.”

We’ve heard it said that word-of-mouth—especially in social media–is everything.  (Just ask United Airlines!)

MBLM continues, “…brands are proliferating, saturating our attention, increasing confusion, and often cannibalizing each other.”

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That’s certainly an honest view of the spirits industry.

A simple walk through your neighborhood liquor store’s tequila aisle will more than convince any skeptic of that assessment.

Given the above information on this new form of “emotional marketing,” it raises the question—

What’s the point of describing your agave spirit as a “luxury” or “lifestyle” brand?

Fearless Prediction

How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50UWith the trend toward attracting Millennials, and their demand for quality, transparency and affordability in the wines and spirits they seek, the growth of the High End and Super Premium segments seem destined to falter.

Celebrity worship and their endorsement of products, however, will continue to be a part of the daily fabric of every social media platform.

As Shu points out in the above article, “No matter how much fanfare or glitz a product gets from being in the limelight, it’s the opinion of experts and influencers on the product itself that keeps it there.”

Luxury items are only attractive when in use by someone we care about or admire, famous or not.

Agave Attachment

How can start up agave spirits entrepreneurs create lasting emotional bonds between their products and their customers?

By telling their brand stories clearly, consistently, and emotionally in a creative and engaging manner across all mediums.

In addition, instead of trying to interest megastars to front your tequila or mezcal, decide to become your own best Agave Ambassador.

Bo Knows

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The new breed of agave spirits brand owners must not be afraid to stand in front of their own juice to preach their message to the masses.

The Founding Fathers of the Tequila Industry knew the value of forging personal relationships with not just their business associates, but with everyone.

In the tradition of old skool tequileros, luminaries like Guillermo Erickson Sauza, Carlos Camarena, German Gonzalez, David Suro, Sophie Decobecq, Ken Austin, Dr. Adolfo Murillo, Tomas Estes and many others, have not only produced some of the most beloved tequilas, but have fearlessly chosen to be their own qualified spokespersons.

There’s No Crying in Tequila!

How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50U

Agave spirits inherently embody the passion and history of Mexico.  If luxury items are cold and unfeeling, then, agave spirits are the complete opposite.

An agave spirit without a representative, however, is like a band without a front man; like a basketball team without a point guard; like a country without a leader.

No amount of marketing spin can improve a label’s lifeless approval rating, or a vote of no-confidence from customers.

Tequila:  Con Ganas!

“Advancements in neuroscience reveal that virtually all decision making is emotional,” declares MBLM.  “Behavioral science demonstrates that the way we feel about a brand is the single best predictor of purchase.”

MBLM concludes, “up to 90% of the decisions we make are based on emotion.”

How to Infuse Your Tequila Con Ganas http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50U

So, if you decide to be the ultimate emotional mouthpiece for your agave spirit, the bottom line is…

Echale ganas!

 

Learning From The Master – German Gonzalez

The tequila industry may not recognize their masters, but here at Tequila Aficionado, we know that we could never consider Germán Gonzalez, distiller of T1 Tequila and Tears of Llorona, any less than a Master at his art.

Learning From The Master - German Gonzalez http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4DC

Enjoy this intimate talk we had the pleasure of having with German Gonzalez when he took off his iconic hat and joined us at our table with his stellar selection of tequilas.

Visit T1 Tequila Uno Online

The story of T1 Tequila Uno begins where the history of tequila begins. For centuries generations of tequila masters have perfected the art of making this unique spirit. A creation of Master Distiller Germán González, our tequilas have an acquired pedigree only achievable through heritage and continuity with the past. Handcrafted using these ancestral and traditional methods and from mature 100% Agave Azul grown in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, emerges a masterpiece collection of T1 Tequila Uno’s of extraordinary and exquisite caliber.

Visit Tears of Llorona Online

Tears of Llorona is an extra extra añejo tequila. It begins as 100% blue agaves from high volcanic slopes in Jalisco, where growth is slow. Master Tequilero Germán Gonzalez hand selects the agaves and has them harvested late, increasing their starch and sugars. The piñas are roasted slowly in the traditional way. His yeast is proprietary and fermentation is slow. Distillation is by copper pot still and barreling is at very high specific gravity.

Tears is aged in three different barrels — oak that has previously held scotch, sherry, and brandy — and brought together in very small batches to create a complex fusion that is more like a cognac than a tequila. Germán then bottles at 43% specific gravity to balance the flavors. This results in a very high rate of osmotic loss – the “angel’s tears” that are one reason for the name, Tears of Llorona.

Learning From The Master - German Gonzalez http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4DCAbout German Gonzalez

Master Distiller Germán González, is the great grandson of General Manuel González, former President of México between 1880 – 1884. In the late 1970s Germán’s father, Guillermo Gonzalez Diaz Lombardo, founder of La Gonzaleña launched what would become the first ultra-premium tequila imported into the United States, Chinaco. Germán worked closely with his father and learned how to handcraft tequila using traditional techniques. After years serving as Chinaco’s master distiller, Germán left the company to launch his own brand, like his father before him.

How to Choose the Right Tequila Glassware

Join Tequila Aficionado Media on Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 9PM CST as Alex Perez and Mike Morales Blab about proper tequila glassware with Martin Duffy, exclusive US representative of the historic Glencairn Chrystal of Scotland.

Riedel Launches the Tequila Glass

As Tequila Aficionado Media first reported in November of 2001, and shared with you again from our vault in the summer of 2015, tenth generation glassmaker Georg J. Riedel presented the perfect tequila tasting glass–the Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glass–at an exclusive ceremony in one of Mexico’s most renowned luxury hotels.

tequila snifter

The over 250 year old Riedel Wine Glass Company, in concert with several prestigious members of the CRT and Casa Noble tequila were involved in its development.

The introduction of the Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glass would serve to elevate the image of tequila from a beverage strictly consumed in shots to an elegant spirit worthy of sipping and savoring.

Originally designed for reposados in mind, the Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glass over the years has been revered by the likes of Master Distiller Germán González as a valuable tasting and nosing tool, and reviled by others as an inadequate vessel to judge the nuances and characteristics of agave spirits.

Many in the industry have questioned why separate glassware hasn’t been produced for each of the agave growing regions, much like the wine and spirits regions of Bordeaux and Cognac.  Tasting and nosing glasses for Atotonilco, Amatitán, Arandas, el valle de Tequila (Tequila Valley), and all points in between should be represented with their own custom stemware.

With all the talk about terroir in tequila and mezcal these days, using proper glassware to discern specific regional characteristics of top notch juice is vitally important.

But, which glasses are the right ones?  What else is out there?

Let’s Blab About Tequila Glassware

Join Tequila Aficionado Media right here on our website on Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 9PM CST when founder, Alex Perez and CEO, Mike Morales blab about other viable options in tequila and mezcal glassware with Martin Duffy, the exclusive representative of the famed Glencairn Chrystal in the US.

On the eve of the 14th anniversary of the introduction of the Tequila Glass, discover other alternatives in glassware to enhance your enjoyment of tequila, mezcal and all agave spirits.

A Sotol By Any Other Name

[On a sweltering August afternoon, Tequila Aficionado Media was invited by Mike Groener, CEO and President of Genius Liquids to sip and savor the latest addition to their Desert Spirit line, Texas Sotol, at their distillery in Austin, TX .]

Here Comes the Rain Again

MonsoonDay

Ask anyone who has spent any significant amount of time living in the Desert Southwest during Monsoon Season, and they will tell you that they can smell rain.  At those times, your part of town may be sunny and bone dry, but a strong breeze will carry the scent of falling raindrops for miles.  Sooner or later, the skies darken, thunder rolls, lightning strikes and the floodgates open.

Similarly, those who have sampled significant amounts of tequila or mezcal wet-cement-signduring their lifetimes will admit to the elusive “wet cement” flavor profile evocative of rain hitting a hot, dry sidewalk.

The latter is so rare these days with tequilas attempting to become smoother and more neutralized, and mezcals being distilled at the more accepting entry level 80 proof (40% ABV) than traditional higher strengths.

But try to describe true sotol such as Don Cuco as I meekly attempted to in Tom Barry’s insightful article, A Sotol Story , and you can fumble to find the words.

“To me, Don Cuco Sotol carries the best of all worlds.  It opens up — blooms — so much that it demands to be treated like a fine wine.  It has the smokiness of some of the best mezcals, but the flavor is simultaneously reminiscent of the best tequilas and then, not at all.”

Tumbando_sotolThe best descriptor that one can come up with is that sotol made in Chihuahua, Mexico smells and tastes like desert rain falling in that region.  It is arguably the truest illustration of the term terroir.

But what does Texas Sotol represent?  That’s what we came to Genius Liquids’ headquarters to find out.

Humble Beginnings

Mike Groener describes Genius Liquids’ humble beginnings and explains the process and challenges in producing Genius Gins and their new Texas Sotol.

The use of champagne yeast was at the suggestion of tequila Siembra Azul’s maker, David Suro, whom Mike met through John Garrett, a friend and spirits supervisor at distributor Victory Wine Group based in Dallas.

Here, Mike discusses more about the inspiration to use champagne yeast in his spirits.

Conscientious Objector to Vodka

Genius Liquids distills three types of gin (standard strength, navy strength, oaked), and Texas sotol, but no vodka.  Distilling something “odorless and tasteless doesn’t represent any piece of art” according to Groener.

Why Sotol?

2015-08-15 13.05.20To learn more about Chihuahua’s native spirit, Groener did his homework.  Through his relationship with Garrett, he has met Judah Kuper, co-founder of Mezcal Vago and spent time at Judah’s family mezcal palenque.

He has also sought advice on his Texas Sotol from Jacob Jacquez, fifth generation distiller of the legendary Don Cuco Sotol, and creator of newcomers, Ocho Cientos and Por Siempre sotol brands.  He has also communicated with representatives of the globally available Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol.

Groener admits that Genius Liquids is a bit egotistical when it comes to deciding what to distill, and prefers a challenge instead of the easy way out.

Sotol By Any Other Name

das_texanum(3)
Dasylirion texanum.

This lovely spirit of Mexico is not without its controversy.

Sotol from Chihuahua, Mexico is distilled using the dasylirion wheeleri plant, more commonly known as desert spoon or sereque in Spanish.

Genius Gin’s Desert Spirit Texas Sotol, however, uses North American sotol or Dasylirion texanum grown, wild harvested, cooked, fermented, and distilled in Texas.  This variety has evolved into a more compacted and hardier plant, designed to survive the harsh Texas summers.

All dasylirions were at one time considered distant relatives of the agave (agavaceae), but it is actually more akin to asparagus.

Mike furthers the debate and recounts the labeling issues concerning the word sotol, and why Genius Liquids prefers to brand it through their Desert Spirit line.

Texas Hill Country in A Bottle

Mike Groener pours a sample of Texas Sotol into my three types of glassware.  Unlike tequila, and to some degree, mezcal, sotol still does not have an official tasting glass.  Lisa Pietsch, Tequila Aficionado Media’s COO, describes it as “Texas Hill Country in a bottle.”

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Like Master Distiller,  German González elaborating on how he came to create his opus, Tears of Llorona, Mike expounds on how, through their process, Genius Liquids has composed a transportive spirit in a “non-Auto-Tune way.”

 Tails of The Funk

Much like Montelobo’s Dr. Ivan Saldaña’s love affair with mezcal’s funkiness, Mike demonstrates how he carefully uses the colas (tails) after distillation to enhance Genius Liquids’ Desert Spirit Sotol.

The Magic Ingredient

Careful not to get too technical with his method of distillation, but with the same umph of Carlos Camarena’s (Tequila Tapatío) passion, Groener breaks down the love involved in producing a Genius Liquids spirit.

The Future

The first batch of Desert Spirit Texas Sotol was so well received that it sold out within two weeks of being launched.  The plan is to move Genius Liquids to larger digs due to the oppressive heat that prevents them from fermenting properly.

Groener spells out what the future holds for Genius Liquids and its expansion.

Off camera, Mike divulged that he’d like to wrestle with the challenge of producing a traditionally made Texas mezcal agave spirit, and has already sourced maguey for that project.  There are also plans for a blended agricole rum.

2015-08-15 13.06.27

In whatever direction Groener takes Genius Liquids, one can be sure that it will continue to seek, define and express the true meaning of Texas terroir–one small batch at a time.

Germán González’s T1 Tequila Uno–Questions and Answers

Response to the interview series with Master Distiller Germán González has been wonderful.

Rightly so, for a man who is a living part of tequila history and continues to make history today with T1 Tequila Uno and Tears of Llorona.

Here are some of your questions answered:

Q:  Does Germán always blend agaves from Tamaulipas and Atotonilco because originally he didn’t have enough from Atotonilco?

A:  As we stated in Tequila From the Heart, Germán blended

T1 Tequila Uno and Tears of Llorona.
T1 Tequila Uno and Tears of Llorona.

agaves from Atotonilco with those from his family ranchos in Tamaulipas only during Chinaco’s resurgence and for his duration with that brand.

T1 Tequila Uno and Tears of Llorona use only agave from the highlands in Atotonilco.

Q:  Did Germán say what blending percentages he uses?
A:   Mas o menos, but…off the record!
T1 Selecto.
T1 Selecto.

Q:  Do all his expressions start as Ultra Fino except Selecto?

A:  Correct.
Q:  What exactly does that mean?
A:  The entire process starts with Ultra Fino, but as you know, Selecto is at a higher alcohol by volume (43% ABV) to acquire a more robust, agave forward flavor profile.
Q:  Does Germán make Selecto from scratch [using] more mature agaves and it was never Ultra Fino? 
A.  As he stated in Tequila From The Heart, Germán always uses mature agave according to his definition, but…
Selecto is distilled to be different than Ultra Fino, which is

Ultra Fino
Ultra Fino

softer on the palate.

Q:  Besides the more mature agave and the different alcohol level, what else is different?
A:  Those answers can be found in the feature article, Germán González–Tequila From The Heart.
Have you seen our video series with Germán González, yet?  If you haven’t, pour yourself a glass of T1 Tequila Uno and watch the entire playlist here:

Tears Of Llorona–Tequila’s Higher Octave

“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”–Ludwig van Beethoven

Germán González lingers over Tears of Llorona tequila.
Germán González lingers over Tears of Llorona tequila.

In music, an octave is the difference in sound between the first and eighth note on a musical scale.

In astrology, the planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are commonly considered the higher octaves of Mercury, Venus, and Mars, which are closer to the sun.

After savoring Tears of Llorona, the word octave comes to mind–something eight times greater than its tequila origin.

Barrel Blends

In this snippet, Germán González, distiller of T1 Tequila Uno and Tears of Llorana, explains the secret barrel blends that result in this masterpiece.

Tears of Llorona served in Riedel stemware.
Tears of Llorona served in Riedel stemware.

The Allure of Scotch

Here, Germán reveals the secret of a legendary Mexican rum and ultimately, the confirmation of why he favors using scotch whisky barrels for Tears of Llorona.

Why The Name?

In the following excerpt, Germán describes why he named his finest expression of tequila, Tears of Llorana.

Swirling the magic of Tears of Llorona.
Swirling the magic of Tears of Llorona.

The Higher Things

 

In this final cut, Germán González discusses the real reason he creates such fine tequilas, reaffirms the lessons he has learned in life, and imparts his belief in higher ideals.  In the process, we learn what really makes him tick.

Flavor Notes

Tears of Llorona serving suggestions.
Tears of Llorona serving suggestions.

How do you describe Tears of Llorona?  How do you depict what you have no benchmark for?  How do you relate something that is at once incomparable and incomprehensible, yet, strangely familiar, like déjà vu?

Perhaps the closest touchstone is given when deconstructing or reverse engineering Tears of Llorona.

For this first batch, Tears of Llorona is barreled in used sherry, scotch whisky and brandy barrels, achieving a spirit that does not betray its agave and tequila roots.

Instead, cradling the agave notes is a heady spiciness that continues to whisper to your senses the longer you swirl it in your glass.

Notes of bitter chocolate, sherry, leather, tobacco and coffee, along with hints of scotch and memories of the finest cognac or brandy culminate in a finish that resembles “a warm scarf on a cold day.”

While other extra añejos attempt to masquerade as something remotely similar to (or anything but) tequila, it is evident that Germán González has created Tears of Llorona to be Tequila’s higher octave.

Deliberately distilled to be lingered over, this gem is, as its website states, “an opus.”  A symphony composed and conducted by a true Master.

A symphony that can raise you–and your senses–to the divine.

Read the full story of Germán González and T1 Tequila Uno here.

Germán González Got No Respect!

Germán Gonzalez, distiller of T1 Tequila Uno and Tears of Llorana, discloses why, up until recently, the term master distiller was not given the proper recognition by the Tequila Industry, nor by the people of Mexico.

Like deceased comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, Germán struggled to gain respect and to become recognized for his distilling acumen until he risked creating T1 Tequila Uno.

We’re sure that after you sample each of his offerings, you, too, will understand what it truly means to be a master at your craft.

Read the full story of Germán González and T1 Tequila Uno here.

 

A Bartender’s Tip from Germán González

In this clip, Germán González, distiller of T1 Tequila Uno and Tears of Llorana, reveals the difficulty in getting consumers to sip 100% agave tequila and shares a technique that a particular bartender uses to educate drinkers who ask for T1 in a cocktail.

A thoughtful bartender or mixologist will always serve the customer in the best way possible.

If you’ve never sipped T1 Tequila Uno, before having it in your favorite cocktail, ask for a bit of a sample on the side.

You’ll be glad you did!

Read the full story of Germán González and T1 Tequila Uno here.

Germán González and The Riedel Tequila Glass

In this segment, Germán González, distiller of T1 Tequila Uno and Tears of Llorana, explains why the Riedel Ouverture glass (now part of Riedel’s Vinum collection) is ideal for tequila tasting.

He demonstrates the right way and the wrong way to hold the glass, and details why it is so effective a tool when enjoying his exquisite tequilas.

Similar to the historic Jose Cuervo family and distillery, Riedel has been creating glassware for every type of wine and spirit for over 250 years.

Read the full story of Germán González and T1 Tequila Uno here.

 

The Rules of Agave with Germán González

In these next two clips, while enjoying sips of Germán González’s masterpiece, Tears of Llorona, we discuss the ins and outs of the tequila business.

The Only Rule That Counts

Germán Gonzalez, distiller of T1 Tequila Uno and Tears of Llorana, reveals the only real rule, according to the normas (the rules and regulations that govern the tequila making process), that counts when selecting agave.

The Brix Bottom Line

Here, Germán  explains how an agave’s brix (sugar content) may affect agave pricing.

Read the full story of Germán González and T1 Tequila Uno here.