Mamalon Blanco Tequila Review

Mike & Alex taste & discuss Mamalon tequila blanco, the latest from La Cofradia.

The Mega Marketing of a Brand Part II – Jose Cuervo Is A Friend of Mine

Originally published on TequilaAficionado.com Dec 3, 2006

tequila aficionado vault, jose cuervo

 

 

In a relationship that the Animal Planet calls symbiotic–like the small fish feeding on scraps from a shark’s jaws, or birds picking the bugs off a hippo’s butt–Cuervo has benefited nicely over the years by partnering with major restaurant chains all over the US. They have single-handedly influenced thousands of tequila drinkers.

 

The Lonely Bull

In an informative article in the Los Angeles Daily News last December, Staff Writer Brent Hopkins recounted the humble beginnings of one of the oldest Mexican food restaurant chains in Southern California.

el torito, jose cuervoEl Torito--which also celebrated its golden anniversary in December 2004–was the brain-child of ex-fighter pilot Larry Cano, whom Brent describes as having “…a few recipes and knowledge of an exotic sounding foreign drink known as tequila….”

In the late ’70’s and early ’80’s, it was the ultimate place to eat, drink, and party. I’ll admit, I was among those who enjoyed traditional Mexican food with more than one margarita and a round of shots.

According to the article, El Torito grew into an international powerhouse with restaurants as far away as Turkey and Abu Dhabi. After many changes in ownership, it has been streamlined to a manageable 69 locations.

Through it all, Jose Cuervo was there.

El Torito has now begun to focus on its cuisine, but one look at the menu–which we’ll do shortly–tells you that that’s not the only thing management is emphasizing.

In a relationship that the Animal Planet calls symbiotic–like the small fish feeding on scraps from a shark’s jaws, or birds picking the bugs off a hippo’s butt–Cuervo has benefited nicely over the years by partnering with major restaurant chains all over the US. They have single-handedly influenced thousands of tequila drinkers.

Where other tequila houses like El Tesoro de Don Felipe and Cazadores visit bars and restaurants around the country, Cuervo’s version of a grass roots campaign is a little bit different.

 

 

The Good Ol’ Days

In Part I, I promised a glimpse at Cuervo’s La Rojeña distillery, but first, more about me….

LaRojena1I had just moved to New Mexico from Southern California. My first job was in Customer Service with one of the largest paper, food, and chemical distributors in the state. Starting at the bottom, I figured the quickest way to becoming a darling of the company–a route salesman–was getting to know the old dogs.

Before my arrival to this company, one other product that it sold was liquor. When the family-owned operation sold out, half the sales force morphed into one of the two major liquor distributors in New Mexico. Those that stayed with the food and chemical division longed for the good ol’ days.

At one of the quarterly meetings’ mandatory dinners, 25 raucous salesmen (and a few of us from Customer Service) ran up a $3000 bar bill on the company’s credit card! During a round of Cuervo Gold shots is where I heard it first.

“This reminds me of the time at Jose Cuervo,” said one salesman.

“What a party that was!” agreed another.

Simultaneously, they described the beauty of the facilities, the grounds, and the tequila at Jose Cuervo’s La Rojeña distillery.

7079The hospitality at these Cuervo “education” junkets is legendary. Mariachis, food, and all the tequila you can drink. Not to mention a generous spiff to each salesman for every caseload sold, or every new account acquired.

“We used to send two delivery trucks a week to every territory,” lamented another salesman. “One with food, and the other full of booze!”

Ah, the good ol’ days!

Many tequila distilleries graciously open their doors to tequila aficionados. CorralejoLa Cofradia (Casa Noble), and Herradura’s Tequila Express, a train that takes turistas to their distillery, to name just a few. But no one does it better–or did it first–than Jose Cuervo.

From Applebee’s (The Perfect Margarita made with 1800), to here in Albuquerque, New Mexico with the Garduños chain of Mexican restaurants (with locations in Arizona and Las Vegas, too), to the popular El Torito. Wherever you live, in every major or minor market in America, there is sure to be a restaurant chain–or liquor supplier to that restaurant chain–that has fallen under the spell of La Rojeña.

 

The Secret to Jose Cuervo’s Success

jose cuervo, brandsTo understand how deeply Jose Cuervo is entrenched in El Torito’s menu, you have to be aware of the “rules of engagement.” It’s called “the three tier system,” and it’s the key to the final segment of this series, so heads-up!

In order for a tequila producer–or any spirits producer, for that matter–to get his product to the US, he has to use an importer (Tier One). This importer is in charge of spreading the word to as many spirits distributors–state and national–as possible (Tier Two). Once distribution is secured, their sales forces are responsible for getting the product to their consumers–every bar and restaurant they service (Tier Three).

Here’s the secret to Jose Cuervo’s success…

Like a computer virus, Cuervo can be found everywhere along these three tiers. At one time or another, every importer, distributor, and chain of bars or restaurants has been invited to enjoy the pleasures of tequila at La Rojeña.

Unfortunately, unlike wines, spirits, by US law, cannot be sold directly to the end user (you and me) by the producer. Let’s drown our sorrows over that one, shall we…?

 

El Torito–Auténtico!

On every table is a simple, hand-sized brown three ring binder. A painting of a jimador harvesting a blue agave–that looks coincidentally like a well-known photo taken at one of the Cuervo agave fields–shares the cover with the El Torito logo, a lonely bull, and the word auténtico. Desserts and drinks in one little package, all made with Jose Cuervo products.

There’s the classic Cadillac Margarita with a side of Grand Marnier. You can order this signature drink in different colors like Green (Midori Melon), Pink (cranberry juice), and Red (Rémy Red).

The Blue Mesa Margarita with 1800 and Blue Curacao. The Real Mex Margarita with Tradicional. And a series of popular tequinis with names like Buenas Noches and Agave Tequini.

To be fair, El Torito serves other very respectable blanco, reposado and añejo tequilas like…

Sauza Tres GeneracionesDon EduardoChinacoCorralejoHerraduraCazadores…and Quita Penas. Along with the Cuervo standard bearers, Gran CentenarioReserva de La Familia, and even Don Julio (suspiciously missing from Cuervo’s Taberna del Tequila menu in the previous segment).

You can even wash down your dinner, drinks and dessert with a cup of Mexican coffee made with Tradicional and Kahlúa.

Each of the signature drinks is very reasonably priced from just over $5 to a bit under $7. Shots range from $5.25 to $10.50.

Although their menu tries to give equal time to other tequilas, when you check the bar, there’s no mistaking who’s on display…

Jose Cuervo!

In the final segment, I’ll take a look at where the marketing future of Jose Cuervo is headed. Here’s a hint…

You’ll be surprised to learn that it has nothing to do with tequila! Instead, it’s slick, high-tech, and chances are good that you already own one. And with it, Cuervo conquers the mystery of the missing “fourth tier.”

 

logo1By Mike Morales, Co-Organizer
New Mexico International Tequila Experience™
Southwest Tequila Association

New Mexico International Tequila Experience™

Xzibit’s Bonita Platinum Tequila Review

 Xzibit’s Bonita Tequila Platinum

bonita tequila, xzibit, ll cool jMike Morales and Alex Perez taste and discuss Xzibit’s Bonita Tequila, a blanco referred to as “Platinum” and five times distilled at La Cofradia. Although this isn’t your father’s tequila, they do think it might be a great gift for mom!  It’s so pretty, they’ve nominated it for the 2014 Brands of Promise Awards for packaging.

bonita, tequila, Xzibit

Falling Under the Spell of Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine Tequila

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

***

Hey, gringos, it could be worse…we did not get there first

Colt_Peacemaker

The Colt Single Action Army, also known as the Peacemaker, is considered a famous part of Americana. “The Gun That Won the West” was wielded by such action-oriented historical legends of the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Buffalo Bill Cody, Theodore Roosevelt, Judge Roy Bean, Pat Garrett and General George Patton.  It has also been the selected sidearm of Hollywood movies, preferred by everyone from John Wayne to Clint Eastwood in every single Dirty Harry film.  And in 2011, it was declared the official firearm of the state of Arizona. Arizona is also home to another piece of Americana–a guts and guitar driven, reggae and mariachi laced, roots based rock-n-roll band leyenda known as Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers.  Armed with expressive lyrics, evocative melodies and four part harmonies, these straight shooters have come to redefine the indie music landscape by being the first band to debut six consecutive albums in the Top Ten of Billboard Magazine’s Internet Sales chart. Along the way, Clyne has gathered a burgeoning cult following that rivals that of Sammy Hagar and Jimmy Buffet–both themselves very successful tequila front men.

I fell under the spell when I stumbled over the line…

The full line-up of Roger Clyne's Mexican Moonshine.

Many aficionados roll their eyes when news of another celebrity endorsed tequila hits the liquor store shelves.  But Roger Clyne came upon his admiration for agave spirits early in life as part of his Southwestern ranching heritage, predating even his love for writing music and performing.

Roger was first introduced to scotch as a teenager by his grandfather who would pour him a dram to “put hair on your chest.”  The taste of “dirty socks in mud” was tough to swallow, but it was his father’s sharing of bacanora, another agave distillate, that opened him up to the wonders of Mexican spirits, and in particular, tequila. Like most of us, Clyne cut his teeth by shooting cheap mixto tequila in college, then swearing off of it until the next opportunity to overindulge.  He was well into his studies (psychology and anthropology) at Arizona State University when he rediscovered that “bright, wonderful, elegant, lyrical taste” of tequila during an exchange program in Ensenada, Mexico, while following a troop of mariachis.

 

It’s surreal, sublime, manmade and divine…it’s the moonshine….

Lyrics on the shipping box of Roger Clyne's Mexican Moonshine.

Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine tequila was born in true outlaw fashion in 2004 during the famed Circus Mexicus music festival that takes place annually in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico (Rocky Point, for you ex-pats).

Check out the Circus Mexicus Lineup for 2014 here.

Circus Mexicus 2014.After that initial experience, Roger began scouting for factories to produce Mexican Moonshine, a journey that would even take him to the famed La Cofradía distillery (NOM 1137), the home of Casa Noble and Montejima tequilas.

He finally selected Fabrica de Tequilas Finos (NOM 1472) and forged a relationship with the distillery owner, Federico Cabo, and Master Distiller, Arturo Fuentes.  Together, the team first “dropped” Mexican Moonshine reposado onto the market in 2010, even though Clyne was advised against such commercial suicide due to historically poor sales of this expression.

Soak in the silvery light spillin’ out tonight from the moonshine…

 

In this clip, Roger pours and discusses Mexican Moonshine silver…

 

We’ll get a fine flow flowin’, a good glow goin’…

 

Believing that a reposado is the more definitive expression of tequila, Clyne was surprised when Master Distiller, Arturo Fuentes suggested that Mexican Moonshine be aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels.  Here, Roger explains further.

 

 

I got a healin’ home-brewed remedy, a low-brow therapy…

 

Award winning Mexican Moonshine añejo.

A Gold Medal winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2014, Mexican Moonshine añejo  was released in 2013 and is fast becoming Roger Clyne’s favorite expression, much to his chagrin.  In the following snippet, Roger breaks down its flavor profile.

 

Turn your back on all the deadlines…

 

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

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

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

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

See Part 2 of our visit with Roger Clyne here!

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

 

 

mex moonshine
Visit Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine online now

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The Añejo Way of Life With Señor Rio Tequila and Cigars by M.A. “Mike” Morales

I admit, I have a soft spot for Señor Rio tequila.

A snifter of Señor Rio añejo on the patio.
A snifter of Señor Rio añejo on the patio.

Sure, it’s produced at the famed La Cofradía distillery (NOM 1137), where its flagship tequila, Casa Noble, grabs all the headlines these days.  And the co-founders, Jonathan Gach and Debbie Medina have a great love for tequila and a great love story, too.  And, yes, it comes in a helluva pretty bottle.  But those aren’t my reasons for my affinity to the brand.

It’s their exclusive cigars that pair so well with Señor Rio tequila that bring a smile to my face.

In The Beginning…

Waiting to be lit.
Waiting to be lit.

I was first introduced to Señor Rio Cigars when CEO, Jonathan Gach, sent me a pair that were infused with Señor Rio blanco tequila.  It was a novel idea at the time since tradition dictates that cigars be paired with wines and darker spirits.  Naturally, these were meant to be enjoyed with Señor Rio blanco and its fragrant smoky bouquet and long finish.

The concept of pairing cigars with blanco tequilas compelled  me to seek other blanco tequila and cigar combinations that ultimately lead to my recent article in Cigar Advisor.

Completely hooked, I couldn’t wait to spark up these newer versions of Señor Rio Cigars that Jonathan was kind enough to share.

Pure Elegance

Señor Rio's presentation dresses up any occasion.
Señor Rio’s presentation dresses up any occasion.

Simply placing the Señor Rio bottles outside on the patio table dresses up any occasion and calls for your fanciest lighter, ashtray and crystal snifters.  One whiff of the big, veiny Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and I couldn’t stray from tradition.  A snifter of  Señor Rio añejo was in order.

From the very start, this stick had all the signs of a handmade gem, lighting beautifully, drawing smoothly and burning evenly with a nice ash.  The combination of the Honduran and Dominican filler, along with the Connecticut broadleaf binder made for a tequila lover’s delight.

Nice ash.
Nice ash.

The hints of leather, wood and nuts courtesy of the wrapper blended nicely with Señor Rio’s initial sweetness. The cigar’s light spiciness (cloves) enhanced the nose and married graciously with the aroma  of the añejo.  Moreover, the cigar’s easygoing softness didn’t interfere with Señor Rio’s medium-to-long finish imparted by its aging in used French white oak barrels for two years.

With the reposado, however, the pairing was more evenly matched.  Aged only six months in used French white oak barrels, it does not have as long a finish as the añejo and this fusion was a duel of the senses.  Each commanded my attention with every sip and draw.  While at times the añejo seemed to step aside, the pairing with the reposado demanded to be noticed.

Up close and personal with Señor Rio tequila.
Up close and personal with Señor Rio tequila.

Once Señor Rio blanco was served, it was comparing night and day.  Everything I had experienced throughout my enjoyment of the cigar was brought to bear with the blanco.  It was a Wimbledon tennis match at Centre Court between two distinct athletic styles where your taste buds are the line judge and the crowd cheers with every volley.

The Añejo Way Of Life

Enjoying the Añejo Way Of Life.
Enjoying the Añejo Way Of Life.

You don’t have to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation (or of a tequila brand or online tequila media company, for that matter) to enjoy Señor Rio.  The pure elegance of its bottle presentation and the tequila’s flavor profile alone can take you to your happy place, what I call “the añejo way of life.”  Coupled with a Señor Rio Cigar, and your trip there will be that much quicker.

Sadly, these puros are not available for retail, yet, and are primarily used at special events and promotions.  But, as Jonathan Gach puts it, “I have been a cigar smoker for 37 years and along with tequila, this is another passion of mine.”

On the positive side, Jonathan is contemplating some exciting future plans for Señor Rio that includes the addition of even more enticing tobacco blends to go along with his stellar tequila.

In the meantime, look for Jonathan and Debbie and the whole Señor Rio tequila crew at your nearest cigar bar and liquor store.  It’ll be your shortest route to the “añejo way of life.”

Jonathan Gach and Debbie Medina, founders of Señor Rio tequila.
Jonathan Gach and Debbie Medina, founders of Señor Rio tequila.

For more information on Señor Rio, visit them here.
At Facebook.  On Twitter @senorrio .

senor rio


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