Women In the Mezcal Industry: Barbara Sweetman

The First Time

I first met Barbara Sweetman, Vice President of Caballeros, Inc., and International Sales Manager of Scorpion Mezcal, and now, Sierra Norte Whiskies in March 2011.

I was visiting the infamous Nightclub & Bar show in Las Vegas to report on the special edition of the Spirits of Mexico that was participating.

Doug French, Founder of Scorpion Mezcal, was on stage depicting the intricacies of distilling his unique mezcals.  I wandered over to the vendor tables that lined both sides of the narrow section reserved for the Spirits of Mexico.

Up to that point, mezcal was still somewhat of a mystery to most of us.  My only real experience was sampling them from Ron Cooper, founder of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals.

A single woman standing behind a table shyly asked if I had ever tried Scorpion Mezcal.  When I confessed that I hadn’t, she suggested that I try their joven espadin expression.

Women In the Mezcal Industry: Barbara Sweetman http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5dL

Expecting to feel the burn and the smoky aroma of a much stronger mezcal, I was amazed at how approachable Scorpion was.  Barbara then proceeded to guide me through an entire flight of all their expressions.

That was my first sip of Scorpion Mezcal, and chances are, Barbara Sweetman handed you your first taste of Scorpion, as well.

A Mezcal Lifer

Women In the Mezcal Industry: Barbara Sweetman http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5dL

As Doug French explains in his own words…

“With Barbara’s efforts sales grew and I needed to produce more.

“This was a pattern with Barbara for the last 15 years.  Her relentless enthusiasm and determination is what took Scorpion–and the whole mezcal industry–forward into becoming a category in the USA.

“I dare say that over the last 15 years, she has single handedly given more human beings in the world their first taste of mezcal than any other person or company in the industry.

“She is also the first person to take multiple brands into all the levels of the Three Tier System so that mezcal could settle into the system as a new functional category.”

The Second Time

For only the second time (and the first time for mezcal), Tequila Aficionado presents Barbara Sweetman’s videotaped responses to our standard handful of questions for our Women In the Mezcal Industry anthology.


TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Mezcal Industry?)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Mezcal Industry?

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Mezcal Industry?

TA:  What facets of the Mezcal Industry would you like to see change?

TA:  Do you approve of how Mezcal brands are currently marketing themselves?

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

Scorpion Mezcal Renders Wondrous Whiskies in Oaxaca

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Pioneer Distiller Seeks Preservation of Mexico’s Heirloom Corn

Because of my upbringing, I believe that socially responsible policies should always be a normal part of any business.”

— Douglas French, Master Distiller

OAXACA, MEXICO, March 28, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — For Immediate release!

Douglas French, pioneer Master Distiller of legacy brand Scorpion Mezcal™, innovates Sierra Norte Native Corn Whiskies™ produced using Mexican heirloom corn.

Due to mezcal’s burgeoning global popularity, “…there is currently a shortage of agave and lots of the small palenques are not distilling,” explains Douglas French, creator of legacy brand, Scorpion Mezcal™.

“I am in the same boat,” he continues, “but instead of looking for an outside job, I have developed recipes to make whiskey.”

Scorpion Mezcal Renders Wondrous Whiskies in Oaxaca http://wp.me/p3u1xi-50zIt is this kind of ingenuity that has positioned Scorpion Mezcal™ as the perennial leader in introducing and elevating award winning, high quality mezcals to over 38 states and 16 countries.

Sierra Norte Native Corn Whiskies™ was launched in the United States in 2016 to mark Scorpion Mezcal’s 20 successful years as a purely artisanal business that promotes social values and economic stability in Oaxaca.

“All of my business ventures have been driven by social responsibility as a keystone,” declares French.

The Sierra Norte mountain range of Oaxaca is acclaimed as one of the richest zones of biodiversity in Mexico.
Oaxaca is also the cradle of corn to the world with over 2,090 varieties in existence. But, in an era of genetically modified organisms (GMO), many of the native corn species are in danger of extinction.

To keep native cultures and traditions alive, all three expressions of Sierra Norte Native Corn Whiskies™ are made the old fashioned way in a blend of 85% corn and 15% malted barley.

Each batch is carefully distilled from the finest yellow, white and black heritage corn grown from seeds that were passed down from generation to generation.

Finally, every individual lot is aged for approximately 9 months in French oak barrels.

The result is three uniquely flavorful whiskies unlike any style before or since.

“Whiskey is a rich category,” asserts Doug, “and, these days, it is going way beyond just mere introductory basics.”

Most importantly, responsible enjoyment of Sierra Norte Native Corn Whiskies™ promotes these five points:

The preservation of endangered native heirloom corn in Oaxaca.

The purchase of this corn from small, family owned farms at fair prices.

Provides long term employment and above-average wages at the Scorpion Mezcal™ distillery where Sierra Norte Native Corn Whiskies™ are made.

Supports employment for the most vulnerable members of the community—women and single mothers.

Lastly, by reviving the domestic economy of both the farmers and workers, Sierra Norte Native Corn Whiskies™ and Scorpion Mezcal™ supplies them with much sought after security making migration away from their families unnecessary.

“I do my best to treat and pay my workers well,” says French. “In return, they are very loyal and have decided to make their careers at the distillery.”

“I have a pretty awesome crew!” he beams.

“Because of my upbringing,” concludes Douglas French, “I believe that socially responsible policies should always be a normal part of any business.”


Click here to find Sierra Norte Native Corn Whiskies™ near you: http://bit.ly/2nZNViv
Learn the Sierra Norte Native Corn Whiskies™ story here: http://bit.ly/2nGc90A
Pioneer mezcalero, Douglas French, shares his story here: http://bit.ly/2o41Mom
Visit both Sierra Norte Native Corn Whiskies™ and Scorpion Mezcal™: http://www.sierranortewhiskey.com/
Imported by Caballeros, Inc., Oakton, VA.

Mike Morales
Tequila PR & Marketing
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