Tequila Aficionado’s Tequila & Mezcal Road Show, Part 3

[From October 14 to October 28, 2015, Tequila Aficionado Media, accompanied by 33 expressions representing 19 brands, embarked on an epic RV road show christened, The Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour.  In these next passages, we recount the historic–and hysteric–highlights.] 

TacoGuild

Church, Tacos, and Tequila With Roger Clyne

Phoenix, Arizona

One of the highlights of Tequila Aficionado Media’s breakthrough Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour was lunch with indy rock legend Roger Clyne of Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers.

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After graciously posing for a quick photo outside our Cruise America RV with Lisa’s boys, we anxiously followed Roger and his lovely and elusive wife, Alisa, inside the historic Taco Guild gastropub, a deconsecrated Methodist church where he had recently conducted an exclusive tasting for fans of his Mexican Moonshine Tequila.

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Having spent most of my young life inside churches, my first inclination was to

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speak reverently in whispers.  Like most places of worship, the Taco Guild had its original stained glass windows and acoustically high ceilings that amplified the din of the lunch time crowd.

It didn’t take long before whispering was futile and more tequila and cocktails were needed.

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Next On Deck

After ordering and savoring some delicious taco plates, Alisa and Roger clued us in on what was ahead for Mexican Moonshine tequila.

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Not only were they planning an extensive 2015 fall tour, but they were also gearing up for 2016’s annual Circus Mexicus.  But, there was another surprise–

The exclusive Mexican Moonshine extra añejo in a ceramic, commemorative 20th anniversary collector’s bottle depicting the “Fizzy Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy” album by Roger’s then group, The Refreshments.

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The band financed the effort so successfully via an Indiegogo campaign that the extra funds enabled them to parlay Mexican Moonshine as a featured tequila in twenty locations–including their own branded cantinas– throughout Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball club for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

RC_AZ

Tequila Tasting With Roger Clyne

A staunch reposado enthusiast, Roger was making it his personal journey to research extra añejos in order to help him define his preferred flavor profile

2015-10-21 12.39.43for Moonshine’s upcoming XA offering.

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Known for their varied and extensive tequila menu,

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naturally, an impromptu tequila tasting ensued courtesy of the Taco Guild’s gracious bar manager.

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After selecting and sampling a variety of tequilas from other producers with varying production methods,

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including some exclusive ultra añejos from behind the Taco Guild’s sacred bar for over an hour, it was time to say goodbye to Roger and Alisa.

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After supplying the Clynes with a bottle of blanco tequila and an añejo mezcal (for educational purposes, of course!), we hefted our bulging bag of leftovers onto the Cruise America RV.

Playing Catch Up

On the way back to our RV park, we stopped at the local supermarket to stock up on supplies for the what we expected would be the crown jewel of our tour–

The Grand Canyon.

After catching up on our required social media chores, a light dinner was in order along with sips of Mestizo Mezcal to chase away the creeping chill of the Arizona evening.

Tequila Aficionado’s Tequila & Mezcal Road Show, Part 2

[From October 14 to October 28, 2015, Tequila Aficionado Media, accompanied by 33 expressions representing 19 brands, embarked on an epic RV road show christened, The Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour.  In these next passages, we recount the historic–and hysteric–highlights.]

Inspired In Albuquerque

With the help of Mezcal Legendario Domingo, Lisa and I brainstormed about our black water tank problem.

We would contact Cruise America RV’s headquarters in Mesa, AZ via their Facebook page, and make an appointment with their service department.  Since we were already fans, this impromptu visit would also serve as more content for Tequila Aficionado and Lisa’s personal blog.

Brilliant!

Get Your Kicks

Get your kicks

Having trekked from Albuquerque to Phoenix a few times before,  both Lisa and myself were aware that portions of Interstate 40 coursed along the Mother Road, historic Route 66.

Mother Road

And having lived in New Mexico for many years, I knew that a stop at Route 66 Casino for more photo ops was a must, especially because Route 66 Tequila had come on the tour, as well.

Route 66 CasinoIt was a memorable pit stop for us.  We made a few new friends and had fun doing it!  Check out this video highlight.Route 66 Casino Arrow

 

 

 

 

By The Time I Get to Phoenix

Once we left New Mexico in the rear view mirror and entered Arizona, the scenery changed and so did our mood.

Looking forward to our lunch date with Roger Clyne of Mexican Moonshine in the next couple of days, we decided to enjoy his latest CD, The Independent, and sing along–with hand puppets.

Don’t judge.  It was a long drive!

After a mid-evening check-in at the Desert Shadows RV park in Phoenix, coupled with a late dinner, a snifter of Route 66 tequila for a nightcap seemed appropriate.  But, not too many.

Our appointment with Cruise America’s service department to address our black water tank problem loomed early the next morning.

Cruise America Headquarters

Things-RVers-Say

An impressive fleet of RVs greeted us at Cruise America’s headquarters in Mesa.  Its size and depth was deceiving with ample showrooms inside.  No matter which department we dealt with, though, the company’s dedication to customer service was first rate.

While the service department examined our damaged RV, we spent time speaking with Vice President, Michael Smalley, on several topics concerning Cruise America’s long history and company philosophy.

You can watch the interview here.

Thank You, Cruise America! 

An hour later, the head of the service department conferred with Mr. Smalley.  Knowing that we were pressed for time, Michael advised that the quickest way to get us back enjoying the road and working on our tour was to switch us to a newer RV rather than to have us wait any longer for repairs on the black water tank.

After unloading clothes and supplies from our old RV and reloading the new one, we waved goodbye to our friends at Cruise America and shuttled back to our RV park in Phoenix.

That afternoon, Lisa was expecting her longtime friends and members of her writer’s group, and she was bound and determined to introduce them to fine sipping tequila from Casa 1921.

 The Butterscotch Martini Girls

Once we were safely back at Desert Shadows with a brand new RV, Lisa regaled her friends with 1921 La Crema.  You can view their official introduction to this tequila gem here, and their rave review here.

As for me, I took the time to sit underneath one of the many fruit trees near our space, lit a cigar, and enjoyed the rolling clouds that signaled a cooling monsoon shower just before sunset.

Arizona Plate

Tomorrow, we’d have some Mexican Moonshine in the forecast, courtesy of Roger Clyne.

Tequila Aficionado’s Tequila & Mezcal Road Show, Part I

[From October 14 to October 28, 2015, Tequila Aficionado Media, accompanied by 33 expressions representing 19 brands, embarked on an epic RV road show christened, The Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour.  In these next passages, we recount the historic–and hysteric–highlights.

You can also view a complete video playlist of our adventures on our YouTube channel here…]

On A Dark Desert Highway

Somewhere outside Carlsbad, New Mexico

 

On a dark stretch of highway in southeastern New Mexico, a road weary Lisa Pietsch guided the Cruise America RV that Tequila Aficionado Media had rented for the historic Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour.

Avoiding oncoming eighteen wheelers hauling oil and speeding two-ton diesel  trucks, she counted the minutes until she reached her destination for the night, the Carlsbad KOA campground.

Suddenly, she gasped as a huge piece of truck tire appeared in the high beam headlights ahead of her.

With no way to avoid the giant twisted remnant on the two lane highway without swerving and fishtailing the thirty foot RV, she gritted her teeth, straddled the rubber and hoped for the best.

A resounding ka-thunk ka-thunk let her know that she had successfully survived what could have been a perilous situation.  It wasn’t until the next morning that Lisa discovered what had actually happened.

Uncomplicated Sipping

Feeling like the castaways from Gilligan’s Island, what was supposed to have been a leisurely six hour drive from San Antonio, Texas to Carlsbad, New Mexico turned into a 9 hour ordeal that began with early morning packing and stocking the RV.

Once we parked and hooked up the water and electricity at the campground for the night, Lisa announced that all she wanted was something uncomplicated to sip on for a late evening nightcap.

Malinalli blanco fit the bill perfectly.

Black Water

After a sluggish morning, we decided to drive for Carlsbad Caverns in the early afternoon.

Unhooking the RV, Lisa noticed the damage to the black water tank.  The coiled tire we had straddled the night before had poked a sizeable hole.  If any of us needed to use the bathroom while we were on the road, it would spell disaster, especially for those following behind us.

With fingers crossed, we headed to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

To The Bat Cave!

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After struggling with our selfie stick trying to capture a family photo outside the park sign, we hustled into the visitor’s area for a mid-afternoon tour of the caverns.

Once inside, we were met with this alarming notice–1016151439a

Bats are dying!

While we weren’t able to manage a tour of the Caverns’ famed bat exhibit that featured the Mexican free tail bats, there was enough important information to post in the above article.

Attack of The 10 Foot Martians 

1016151716 1016151717aOn our way back from Carlsbad Caverns just before nightfall, we were able to do a bit of souvenir shopping and picture taking with carved bears and aliens.

We had no idea that the alien culture was so prominent in Carlsbad, but we were sure that Roswell, our next day’s whistle stop, would have more than enough little green men to spare.

In the meantime, we appropriately eased into the  gray, stormy evening with Tromba tequila.

The Truth Is Out There

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From the moment that Alien Tequila hopped aboard our Tequila & Mezcal Tour, I knew that a stop in Roswell, NM at the UFO Museum was a must.

Walking through this charmingly quirky city with a bottle of Alien Tequila hidden in a bag made these photos even more delightful.

1017151250aAfter more souvenir shopping, it was off to our stop for the next two nights at my old stomping grounds in Albuquerque.

R & R

Having stayed at this particular KOA campground during our first family RV outing earlier in the Spring of 2015, we were familiar with the amenities and felt comfortable enough to enjoy some down time.  The driving had taken its toll on Lisa, so a two-day respite was just what she needed.

JLP Margaritas were the order of the evening.  After catching up on emails and drafting blogs, Senda Real made an appearance, as well.

Finding Photo Ops

When you’re stuck behind a computer from 5 to 8 hours a day like Lisa and I usually are working to make Tequila Aficionado Media even more interesting, compelling and educational for you, finding ways to create more inspirational photo and video opportunities is challenging.

Stepping away from the home office and being on the road really lends itself to “outside-the-box” creativity.  If you remain open to possibilities, even the simplest things can serve to generate epic social media content and articles.

Which is exactly what we needed since we were still faced with the dilemma of the damaged black water tank.

1st Annual New Mexico International Tequila Experience™

Originally Published February 20, 2001

TAXAHeadermodified

 

Glamour and Magic at The 1st Annual New Mexico International Tequila Experience™

By Mike Morales
Tequila Aficionado Magazine
Contributor/Columnist

Albuquerque is a city of many “firsts.”
After World War II, it was one of the first cities dedicated to nuclear research. It was also the first home of Bill Gates’ Microsoft empire. And on Friday, November 17, 2000, from 4:30pm to 8:30pm, the La Posada de Albuquerque, one of Conrad Hilton’s first original hotels, hosted the 1st Annual New Mexico International Tequila Experience ™.

On a crisp, fall afternoon, with the promise of a cold evening ahead, this historic hotel in downtown came alive with the warm laughter and conversations of close to three hundred blue jean-wearing, silver-tipped and turquoise-topped tequila aficionados.

One of my two partners, Jeff Young, Program Director of our sponsor, local radio station 101.3, The Bone, was in the atrium directing traffic and passing out the handy souvenir tasting guides. Supervising the efficiently trained staff of the La Posada was Food and Beverage Manager, Kirk Brooks.

Thanks in large part to the staffs of the two exclusive distributors for the event-Southern Wine & Spirits of New Mexico and New Mexico Wine Patrol-everyone from the “green horn” novice to the true blue “catador” found something to their liking.

The largest tequila tasting of its kind in the Southwest, La Posada’s mezzanine featured tequilas from Patron, D’Reyes, El Tesoro, Chinaco, Sauza, Corazon, and Don Alejo. But that’s not all…

Also featured were mezcals by the famous Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals from San Luis Del Rio to Minero. In addition, there were tequilas from the difficult to acquire Lapis Añejo, Chamucos, and Espolon.

Couple these fine tequilas and mezcals with the atmospheric architecture of the La Posada de Albuquerque-the exposed carved beams, Spanish-tile floors, tinwork, and wall murals-and the result was a truly magical evening. (Capture the magic for yourself by taking a virtual tour of La Posada!)

1st annual nmiittMaintaining the magic, and giving the International Tequila Experience an educational flair, fell on the very capable shoulders of two of the biggest names in the industry: Ron Cooper, founder and importer of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals, and Lance Cutler, author of the wildly popular book The Tequila Lover’s Guide to Mexico and Mezcal. (This revised edition is rapidly becoming the “bible” of tequila and mezcal in the spirits industry. To get your copy, click on the book’s icon on the home page of this site!)

Not only were both gentlemen available throughout the evening-Lance at the main entry table with yours truly, and Ron holding court at the Del Maguey table supervising the pouring of clay “copitas” of mezcal-but in the spacious ballroom of the La Posada, each expertly held the ample crowd spellbound with their individual slide presentations.

Ron Cooper spoke first, showing slides of each of the villages where he oversees the making of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals. From harvesting to the final product, every step was covered including the subtleties and ceremonial customs involved.

Then, Lance Cutler took the dais explaining in exact detail the process of tequila production and the different regions where some of our favorite brands come from. But from both gentlemen, the same message was immanently clear…Passion. Passion for the art of tequila production. Passion for the craftsmanship involved. And in Ron Cooper’s case a passion for the people who manufacture the product.

Throughout the evening, with not only the aide of Lance and Ron, but also the knowledgeable staff of the La Posada, Southern Wine, and Wine Patrol, that passion was transferred to the people in attendance.

In between tastings, or while the throng munched in the rear of the ballroom on the fine faire whipped up by the chefs at Conrad’s Downtown at La Posada-which ranged from chips and salsa to cheese and fruit to mussels and shrimp! I made my way along the mezzanine, meeting and greeting and asking for personal opinions.

Always with a smile on their faces, I was given the thumbs up or the okay sign. The personal reasons why they chose this silver tequila over that añejo. Friends excitedly telling each other to try this reposado over at that table. Husbands and wives playfully arguing about their preferences in the official tasting guide. Others acquired new favorites as they discovered labels that they had not been exposed to before. Some were serious, some were not…but it didn’t matter. The general consensus was that they would do it all over again next year. Some even asked if we could do it semi-annually! And one woman thanked my two partners and me for bringing back her nightlife!

As a first time organizer, these responses were deeply gratifying. So was the feeling that, even after all the hassles and hurdles that we went through in the last year to put on the International Tequila Experience, we really did do something right.

In the waning moments of the gala, a photographer approached Jeff, Kirk and myself and asked to take our picture. My other partner, John Samson (who was also the Special Projects Manager on duty that night at the hotel), was patrolling the atrium downstairs. I leaned over the mezzanine to call his attention, when I was suddenly struck by the beauty of the crowd below. The patrons had filtered into the Lobby Bar to order a cocktail or a margarita. Some were headed to Conrad’s for dinner. Others were mingling at tables around the fountain. The Friday night jazz band was about to begin their set, while some confused guests wondered why the atrium was so crowded. It occurred to me that this was what it must have been like when, during the hotel’s heyday in the late thirties and early forties, such Hollywood stars as Jimmy Stewart and Gregory Peck visited the La Posada.

Only one word could describe the 1st Annual New Mexico International Tequila Experience™

… Glamorous.

Tequila Aficionado Takes to The Open Road

On The Road Again

Unlike some tequilas, most of my moves have never been smooth–or without incident.

For the better part of 18 years, I lived in New Mexico.  After a year long stay in my home state of California, I moved my personal residence and headquarters to San Antonio, TX to helm the newly revamped Tequila Aficionado Media almost two years ago.  In all that time, I’ve spent hundreds of dollars in storage fees.

Lisa drives the RV.
Lisa drives the RV.

So, when my partner, Lisa Pietsch, suggested an RV road trip in late May/early June to get the rest of my possessions in Albuquerque, I was hesitant.

The plan was to rent a Cruise America RV and to take her two home schooled boys with us, along with the two cats, the dog, and turtle, on a 7-day trek through parts of west Texas and southern New Mexico.

Since Lisa would be doing all the driving, she would break up the trip to no more than 5 or 6 hours before stopping at a reputable and clean RV park for a day or two.  We would simply retrace our route on the return trip, as well.

donner_film_landingI’m not going to lie.  Visions of the ill fated Donner Party crossed my mind.

Apart from the usual concerns about cost and current gas prices (which Lisa will tackle in blog posts of her own), my more pressing questions were–

Could the cats get along with the dog?  Would the boys freak out without wifi?  Would we even survive the first night together in the close quarters of the RV?  Could we all just get along?

Añejo the Cat doesn't travel well.
Añejo the Cat doesn’t travel well.

Luckily, the good folks at Del Bravo tequila supplied us with bottles of their Peñsaco, Diva and Route 66 tequila to calm my nerves.  Brand Of Promise(TM) winner, JLP Craft Margaritas also came along for the ride.

#TheDreamIsReal

Undaunted (and armed with a hashtag), Lisa pursued her dream of taking the kids and experiencing part of the Desert Southwest on the open road.

After a couple of hours outside of San Antonio, we stopped for lunch and took stock of our surroundings inside the RV.  So far, the ride was quite comfy.

The Crossroads of The Texas Mountain Trail

Route 66 and Diva Tequilas.
Route 66 and Diva Tequilas.

We arrived tired and hungry at our destination, the Good Sam campground in Van Horn, TX, just in time to catch a desert sunset.

Dinner in the RV and generous pours of Route 66 reposado tequila were on the menu after a long drive.  Later that evening, the campground’s flawless wifi kept us on top of our personal and Tequila Aficionado duties.

It wasn’t until the next morning, though, that we were able to appreciate the stark beauty of this historic west Texas location.

Tequila Road Show

A short two hours or so later, we entered the El Paso, TX city limits.  Here, Lisa Pietsch and I reveal our desires for the Tequila Aficionado Roadshow that we were planning for late summer/early fall 2015.

Old Stomping Grounds

Fun with the selfie stick.
Fun with the selfie stick.

We made great time into the Duke City area and settled into the spacious Albuquerque North KOA campground in Bernalillo, NM.

Later that evening, accompanied by a full moon rising above the Sandia Mountains and some JLP Craft Margaritas, along with a celebratory cigar for me, we hopped onto the park’s wifi for a little social media fun.

 How to Shop for Your RV

With the idea of shopping for a bigger RV still fermenting, we weren’t too keen on dealing with pesky and persistent salesmen.  Lisa and I decided to take a walk around the KOA park to see what Americans were RVing in.

That’s when we ran into this beauty–

Meanwhile, Back in Van Horn…

After a couple of days in New Mexico, we mounted into the Cruise America RV and made our way back to Van Horn, TX to spend a restful two days recuperating from driving and moving some of my possessions.

Family time.
Family time.

The outpouring of well wishes and the sharing of family vacation memories from our friends and followers on social media, made us pause and reflect on our own individual family outings.

The pros of being location independent far outweighed the cons of what the open road had in store (besides rush hour traffic).

And, had we not returned to the campground in Van Horn, we would’ve missed the opportunities to bond over these gems…

Living The Dream

Stay tuned to Tequila Aficionado later this month for a special announcement about our first ever Tequila Road Show to the Windy City of Chicago and how you can come along!

Women in The Tequila Industry: Jaclyn Jacquez by M.A. “Mike” Morales

jaclyn jacquez

Jaclyn Jacquez considers herself an adelita, of sorts.

Soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution.
Soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution.

Adelitas were female solders (soldaderas) who were a vital force during the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s, fighting alongside men.  As President of Don Cuco Sotol, she spearheads a sixth generation  company producing a spirit steeped in 800 years of history.

The Don Cuco Sotol line up., jaclyn jacquez
The Don Cuco Sotol line up.

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and raised in El Paso, Texas and Chihuahua, Mexico, this charming but fierce warrior woman is more than armed with a masters degree in International Business from the American College of Switzerland.  Under her leadership, the company trademarked its brand name, exported it first into New Mexico, and now, into New Zealand where it is gaining the attention of bars and restaurants specializing in serving handcrafted Mexican spirits-based cocktails.

Jaclyn Jacquez, President of Don Cuco Sotol.
Jaclyn Jacquez, President of Don Cuco Sotol.

In an industry where the image and story behind a spirit is crucial for its marketing success, Jaclyn and the entire Jacquez family, staunchly refuse to stray from their artisanal roots.  Opting instead to concentrate on honoring their culture and way of life in the Sonoran Desert, they have managed to capture its essence inside every bottle of Don Cuco Sotol.

As I related to author, Tom Barry, in his stellar article “A Sotol Story” (it may be bad form to quote oneself, but I’ll do so here), “There is no mistaking that Don Cuco Sotol is produced–handcrafted, micro-distilled–and lovingly brought into the market by the Jacquez family.”

A revolutionary spirit fronted by a soldadera, Jaclyn Jacquez most certainly belongs among the ranks of Tequila Boss Ladies.

To repeat, we asked a short list of five questions to prominent women leading the charge for change in the Tequila Industry and beyond.

Interview with Don Cuco Sotol’s President, Jaclyn Jacquez.

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a high ranking woman in your position in a primarily male dominated industry?

JJ:  To be in a male dominated industry has been an empowering feeling.  The liquor industry is starting to realize the great power of influence women have in this business.  Not only do we have influence in advertisement and marketing but we are playing a major role in strategic business decisions at an international level.

Label.
Label.

TA:  How have you been able to change things within your industry?

JJ:  The sotol industry had played a major role during Mexico’s revolutionary times just as the women called ” Adelitas” did during that period.  Now its challenge, and my challenge, is to revolutionize everyone’s cocktail with this spirit.

My heritage is from Chihuahua and I, too, carry that northern revolutionary spirit within me.  I don’t think I’ve made a change in this industry, yet, but Sotol is a revolutionary drink and I’m just part of its heritage.

I just happen to be the “Adelita.”

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila/Sotol Industry?

Adelitas of the Mexican Revolution.
Adelitas of the Mexican Revolution.

JJ:  I see huge potential for women and the liquor industry itself.

I see women not only in the marketing aspect of it, but in the agriculture, business, social conscious awareness of it and education.  I see women taking this challenging industry to a much higher level where people will not only be asking for just well drinks but for a cocktail with a specific brand of sotol or tequila.

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

JJ:  Awareness.

I want people to understand that tequila and sotol are not just another alcoholic beverage to drink.  It is more than that.  It is culture, art, and a spirit that has to be treated with respect.  That’s why the Ancestors called it spirits.  Consumers need to research and know what they are consuming and demand it.

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila/Sotol Industry in one form or another?

JJ:  Yes.  It’s just like any other goal.  You’ve got to have passion and embrace every challenging aspect of this industry.

***

A soldadera relaxes.
A soldadera relaxes.

 

Find Don Cuco Sotol Online:

Don Cuco Website

Follow Don Cuco Sotol on Facebook

And on Twitter @SotolDonCuco

 

 

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Change is at Hand for the Tequila Market, Part I

tequila market, masa azulPart I of II

Written by Chris Zarus of TequilaRack

Tequila Brands and Producers Have Already Sailed Into the Sucker Hole

For those new to the expression, a “sucker hole” is a colloquial term referring to a spate of good weather that “suckers” sailors into leaving port just in time for a storm to resume at full force and wreak havoc on the ship and crew.

For both Tequila Brand Owners and producers of a certain size, their ship has already sailed, and the storm is now closing in on them. Some in denial, others looking through rose-colored margarita glasses, still believe they can navigate through to that glimmer of light on the horizon. However, the perfect storm of doom looms just past the horizon of hope, and will soon envelope and destroy most, if not all, in its wake.

Oh, and that’s the good news. The bad news is that only a few of the big and the very nimble will survive.

This is because of a number of factors, primarily that too many of us bought in to the Yankelovich and similar studies that declared premium and above 100% Agave Tequila brands as the next big thing.

While the premises of these market premonitions were undoubtedly true, too many of us jumped headfirst into the juice just before the world economic decline. Six hundred brands have turned into 1200 brands in less than five years. The growth of the market has been dramatic compared with other distilled spirits, yet, it’s still relatively small, ranked only 4th in US volume. It has not grown fast enough to accommodate all of the entries into the field.

Resistance is Futile – Change is at Hand for the Tequila Market

train wreckThe Gravy Train Wreck Ahead

I’m sure that for many of you, in just reading the title of this article, your blood pressure has escalated, and you may already be misdirecting your anger at the author.

For others who have experienced the many similar economic paths to consolidation in the global beverage industry, you have already accepted that change has to occur, and you will soon better understand and appreciate the math behind what I am about to lay out, and why everything I’m about to outline here will happen in due course.

For those of you who have your personal fortunes riding on the Tequila Train, both prominence and profit may still seem to be so close that you think you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, or beyond the next bend. But, I’m sorry to say that for most of us in the biz, the light at the end of the tunnel is that of an oncoming locomotive. This will be a catastrophic collision, albeit in slow motion, that will drain your resources and your resolve.

iwsrWhat can be learned from the Russians? (Excerpted from JustDrinks.com)

The global economic crisis has had a significant impact on the Russian spirits market, changing market dynamics and briefly halting the much-lauded premiumisation trend, according to current research.

A recently released report from the International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) on Russia’s spirits market claims that the downturn has also led to “…disruptions across the supply chain, with many suppliers and distributors going bankrupt or halting production. For healthier companies, however, it has presented an opening to establish their brands and take market share…”

cloud liningThe Silver Tequila Clouds have a very Dark Lining (Excerpted from Global market review of Tequila – forecasts to 2013 www.researchandmarkets.com )

The history of the Tequila industry has been one of boom and bust. Sales rose during the 1940’s only to collapse again in the mid-50’s. Export sales rose steadily from the 1960’s onward, although domestic sales fell sharply in the 1980’s due again to an economic slump, and the severe Mexican economic crisis of the early 1980’s resulted in plummeting sales.

The market was again disrupted by a critical shortage of Agave beginning in the late ’90’s, which served to hold back the category’s international development as brand owners were forced to divert limited supplies to the core US market, and quality perceptions were damaged as some manufacturers moved from 100% to 51% (Mixto) Agave products.

Today, that dynamic is in reverse, and the market is in oversupply. More and more 100% Agave products are coming into the market. This is helping to raise quality perceptions, and in turn, demand is surging not only in core Mexican and US markets but across a number of other countries.

The outlook for the category has rarely been better, and Casa Noble Tequila president and COO David Ravandi commented, “Tequila is entering a stage of consolidation in the world markets. It is no longer a fad. The fact that 100% Agave Tequila exports have increased tremendously over the last two years is extremely positive for the product’s outlook in the years to come.”

US Tequila Importation is a Sucker Bet

tequila history, santa fe“My cousin will make the best Tequila for you Mr. Gringo”

“So, my friend, you want a great Tequila brand? We will make it for you. Just fifty percent cash up front to start the process.”

Unfortunately, far too many have fallen for this old gag. Relying heavily on the forecasting reports of the early 2000’s that suggested that luxury Tequila would be the next big spirits category after vodka.

With dollar signs in their eyes, the believers drank the Tequila Kool-Aid, most of them spending way too much to buy a brand, custom molded bottles, etc. But the worst part was that this left little if any money for marketing. Many did not even understand brand marketing inflation was happening right under their noses.

It had started soon after Patron hit 100,000 cases in volume in 2001, and the cost to market a Tequila brand in the US went from $1 to $10M per year. Today it takes at least $20M per year just to play in the same ballpark as Patron’s $50M plus, Sauza’s $35M plus, and Cuervo’s $30M plus marketing budgets.

Who could have predicted that a “realistic” business plan for the next successful ultra-premium Tequila brand calling for only 10,000 cases in the first year would end in it’s investors taking a bath?

The problem with this equation is three-fold:

1) Pricing: Unlike vodka and white rum, 100% Agave Tequila is just too expensive to produce and bottle in Mexico. Unless, like rum, vodka and mixto Tequila, it is able to be shipped in bulk and bottled near the final consumer, the cost involved with 100% Agave Tequila is always going to be too high to attain critical volume and profit levels.

2) Volume: US mass volumes are best when a spirits category is between $9.99-29.99/750ml. One hundred percent Agave Tequila is currently profitable only at the upper ranges when higher volumes are attained.

3) Distribution: The US “3-Tier” Distribution System is at best an oligopoly, and 19 states run a monopoly. Of the 1200 plus Tequila brands, want to guess how many they want to carry? Well, after the top 20, you are very lucky to be “special order only”. If you are fortunate enough to live in the states of California or Arizona, where one can be both the importer and distributor, you will find yourself driving your precious Tequila brand around to each account in your car.

Without product volumes or market clout, you will be hard pressed to get even an appointment, let alone a vender number with the chain restaurants and grocery stores. These major chain stores like Chili’s, Chevy’s, Costco, Kroger, etc., drive at least 85% of the combined volume in all but the control states. Without access to the chains, your market becomes the handful of privately owned, “Mom & Pop” accounts that usually know that small independent distributors are easy prey for bending the law on consignment, stringing out payments, or not paying at all.

While driving your own brand around certainly makes time for the personal touch and focus, these hand-selling efforts prove to be the most inefficient ways to distribute one Tequila brand. Your glass ceiling to fame and fortune becomes that next level of chain distribution that can only be had by a state-wide delivery system of the large wholesale distributor.

With Tequila segment Pricing, Volume and Distribution all against you, one will need to have a lot more money than the brands of the past in order to simply survive in the US.

Tanks-a-lot for Nothing

Call the tank maker and raise your stocks of liquid now!

no masUnfortunately, most of the mid-sized Tequila distilleries have bought into the notion that Agave prices will go up in the very near future. They base this notion on the boom and bust cycle of the past, and like Lehman Brothers, believe that they have successfully timed the market.

Greedily, many producers are now mortgaged to the hilt in order to produce all the Tequila that they possibly can afford to store in stainless tanks or wooden barrels. Fear of the impending Agave price increase that has yet to happen (and may not for many, many years) has seemingly forced them all into a squirrel-like stockpiling frenzy.

Are they storing Blanco, like acorns, for the hard winter ahead? These stored nuts of liquid demise are in reality winds conspiring to produce the perfect storm for all but the most financially secure and/or nimble producers.

Copyright 2010 International Tasting Group (ITG), All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, ITG is the legal copyright holder of the material on our blog and it may not be used, reprinted, or published without our written consent.

Links

SPIRITS TRENDS

U.S. Spirits Market 2008, Gross Revenues by Price Category

http://www.discus.org/pdf/2009IndustryBriefing.pdf (This is the most recent report by DISCUS for 2009. Tequila volume is still listed as 4th.)

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Spirits+fast+track+brands.-a0144204154 (shows Patrón reaching 119K cases in volume in 2001.)

http://archive.cyark.org/2012-understanding-the-maya-calendars-blog

http://www.forgottenagesresearch.com/index.htm

http://www.nostradamus.org

http://www.oceanfreightusa.com/topic_impg.php?ch=19 (Bonded warehouses.)

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/02/09/tequila-agriculture.html (agave farmers)

http://www.yankelovich.com/ (state of the consumer)

tequilarack

Originally posted October 1, 2010 by Chris Zarus of TequilaRack.  This is considered a standard in the industry and is even more relevant today.

Please visit TequilaRack, a member of the Tequila Aficionado Flight of Sites.

 

 

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NM International Intimate Tequila Tasting

alex perez, alexander perez, tequila aficionado, founder, tequila, NM International Intimate Tequila Tastingmike morales, tequila journalist, tequila aficionado, tequila, NM International Intimate Tequila TastingNM International Intimate Tequila Tasting

Alexander Perez and Mike Morales from Tequila Aficionado do a recap on the historic CATA that took place at the NM (New Mexico) International Intimate Tequila Tasting that took place July 22, 2011.

Find out more about M.A. “Mike” Morales’ experiences and efforts in tequila education at www.TequilaJournalist.com

Organized by Mike Morales, the NMIITT is an official “Cata de Tequila” or tequila judging held under the guidelines of the American Academy of Tequila and/or the Mexican Academy of Tequila.  The “Catadores”, or judges blind taste a series of tequilas by class (Blanco, Reposado, Anejo, and Extra Anejo) having no knowledge of name or distilleries participating.  Each tequila is scored on its own merit of sight, smell, and taste then rated on a twenty-point scale.

The event was held at Nativo Lodge over a full weekend, where the judges first gathered in a private room for the Cata.  The following day a public tasing was held along with the announcement of the winners in each catatgory.  ~ Forbes Magazine

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Mike Morales’ NMIITT Presents Historic First-Ever Award for Certified Organic Tequila

By Alexander Perez | 08.06.11

OnFriday, July 22, 2011, in celebration of National Tequila Weekend, twelve of the most inspired and celebrated catadores (tequila tasters) from around the US enthusiastically gathered to judge a wide array of tequilas in an historic blind tasting competition at the New Mexico International Intimate Tequila Tasting(TM) held at Heritage Hotels & Resorts’ Nativo Lodge.

Gold, silver and bronze medals werebestowed not just in the blanco, reposado, añejo and extra añejo entries, but also unprecedented awards were given in the new Certified Organic Tequila category.

To ensure tequila’s integrity within the spirits industry, the New Mexico International Intimate Tequila Tasting™ followed the prestigiousAcademia Mexicana del Tequila (Mexican Tequila Academy) tasting protocols based on a twenty point rating system developed exclusively for the spirit.

In close cooperation with National Distributing Company of New Mexico,  and conducted by SpiritsAficionado.com/American Tequila Academy, over sixty different brands and expressions of tequila were tested for their visual, aroma and flavor profiles.

Hopeful tequila “brands of promise” who participated in the cata (tasting) and vying for distribution in New Mexico were TequilaRack, Cuestión tequila, Alquimia organic tequila, Nobleza Azúl, Don Modesto, Tequila David Reyes, Cocula, and Sin Rival.

In the first ever Certified Organic Tequila Category, history was made when Alquimia Tequila gained gold medals in the blanco, reposado and extra añejo categories followed by a silver medal in the añejo entry.  Certified Organic Republic Tequila scored a silver medal in the blanco and a gold medal in the añejo categories.

Composing the stellar panel of judges was a who’s-who in the tequila industry:  Christopher Zarus, CEO of International Tasting Group/TequilaRack; Jason Lerner, partner in the newest restaurant and tequila bar in Chicago, Masa Azúl; Chris Milligan, The Santa Fe Barman and blogger for Forbes Magazine; Bob Wolter of TequilaTracker.com; Catador Mario Alejandro Marquez, President of Magía Azúl tequila consulting; Jason Silverman, Agave Beverage Manager at one of  New York’s premier tequila bars and restaurants,  AgaveNYC, and Alex Perez, Editor-in-Chief of TequilaAficionado.com, were among the twelve ardent tequila professionals, collectors and connoisseurs selected for this monumental task.

Among the top three blanco tequilas were Corazón de Agave, award winning Alquimia Organic, and the surprise in this vibrant category, a tie between mainstay Gran Centenario plata and new brand of promise, Nobleza Azúl.

herradura reposado, tequila, tequila aficionado, NMIITT Reposado winners were perennial powerhouse Herradura, Penacho Azteca grasped a silver medal, and in their first competition ever, Don Modesto broke through in dramatic fashion to grab the bronze from Nobleza Azúl by only two-tenths of a percentage point.

The añejo category was dominated by Herradura’s Antiguo 1870.  A silver medal was shared by both Don Modesto and Republic Tequila (organic).  The bronze medal was awarded to the dazzling Nobleza Azúl.

Finally, in the elegant Extra Añejo category, Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia was the frontrunner.  Alquimia’s Reserva de Don Adolfo placed a solid second, and another tie between two tequilas from the same house, Sin Rival and Cocula snared bronze medals.

For a complete list of medal winners and competing tequilas, visit www.NMIITT.com.

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Mike Morales Makes History at Cata de Tequila

cata de tequila, mike morales, forbes magazine, tequila, mezcal, sotol, organicForbes’ Chris Milligan describes his experience at the historic New Mexico International Intimate Tequila Tasting (NMIITT) in Albuquerque.  he also describes how it was historic in two ways and what set it apart from any other tasting to date.  be sure to read the entire story (short) as well as the comments.  Click here now.

 

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