Women in the Tequila Industry: Cleo Rocos

Cleo in Pool with AquaRIvaActress, comedienne, narrator, pop music collaborator, singer, producer, writer, world traveler, radio announcer, book author, and tequila brand owner.  Those are just a few of Cleo Rocos’ credentials.

Best known for her years as a sidekick on the BBC’s beloved Kenny Everett Television Show, she is often compared to Lucille Ball for her beauty, wit and business acumen.

Her circle of friends range from kings of comedy, queens of countries, princes ofCleo_Emma industry, and girls of spice.

Learning from a prized friend and mentor, Tomas Estes (Tequila Ocho), she established The Tequila Society in the UK, and launched her own AquaRiva tequila in 2012.

This Tequila Boss Lady pulls no punches when it comes to 100% agave tequila.  Here, she shares her views on our customary handful of questions.

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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 Tequila Industry?

CR:  Everyone assumes that because Tequila is a male dominated industry that I would have to face challenges.  I love men and working with them.  I have always been treated with great respect and my thirst for knowledge willingly nurtured by everyone that I have met.

CleoCertificate

In fact in 2009 I was recognized by the CNIT with a coveted award, presented to me at the annual Dia del Tequilero, in Guadalajara.  A great honour.

I love the people in the tequila industry.  I spend a lot of time in Mexico and I have never encountered any negative experiences as a woman.

The tequila industry is cool and some of the coolest people in it are older than your grandparents and can show you how to really party.

It is well recognized that people live long and happy lives in this industry.

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

CR:  I have been able to change things extensively in the UK, turning around theAquaRiva_Syrup negative misconceptions by relentlessly explaining the dramatic difference between mixto and 100% agave tequilas and encouraging people to actually give tequila another try.

I actively get the tequila message out to a much wider audience through my career in television.

I appear on many TV and radio shows, write articles and give interviews explaining the truly exquisite experience of a well crafted 100% Agave Tequila.

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

CR:  If you are a woman who can bring something to the tequila industry and have a real passion for it then there are great opportunities as there are equally for men.

CleoRocos with Richard Branson enjoying the worlds best tequila AquaRiva copyMost people are not aware that women have a more sensitive and accurate palate than men.  It is a fact of nature.  Many more women are now top tasting and spirits profile experts throughout the wine and spirits industries.

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

CR:  The most important facet to change is to implement legislation demanding the clear labeling Mixed Tequila [mixto] as “MIXED” or even “Tequila FLAVOURED.”

Mixed tequila is generally only 51% agave tequila and not the “real deal.”

This lack of label clarity is highly confusing for the new consumer and detrimental to the tequila industry.

The experience of drinking “Mixed” Tequila is why most people think that they hate tequila.

It is unfair to the producers of 100% Agave brands to have to constantly battle to re-educate consumers due to this lack of label clarity.

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

CR:  Each brand obviously has their own marketing strategy.  We all know that good 100% agave tequila is to be sipped and enjoyed.

The versatility of this incredible (100% agave) spirit is having a profound influence on cocktails globally and is now the favourite spirit of top bartenders.

I do not agree with promoting rounds of inferior mixed tequila shots to CleoBarrelscustomers to shoot down in one go.  This gives Tequila a bad reputation.

I always warn against any drink having to be consumed ice cold or in one go.  No one needs to drink like that unless they are going to have a limb removed without an anesthetic.

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

CR:  I have been very welcomed and totally embraced by the Tequila Industry.

I have created my own multi award winning brand, AquaRiva Tequila and I have only experienced good will and encouragement all the way.

If you have a true passion, a desire for knowledge and to work with this glorious spirit, there are no barriers.

I love working in this industry.  It’s crammed with enthusiastic people, family traditions and amazing characters.

Cleo_Bottling

The tequila industry is very much a way of life but not as you know it.

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

What If There Were No Duty Free Tequila?

In the December 17, 2009 issue of Drinks International online magazine, the headline reads:

WHO plans global duty free liquor ban

The story goes on to say…

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has shocked the duty-free industry by proposing a global ban on duty-free liquor sales, a business which was worth $6.3bn last year.”

The proposal to slow down alcohol consumption was actually published in December of last year, but will finally get onto the WHO’s Executive Board agenda between January 18-23, 2010. The Board is made up of health ministers from 34 leading countries, and if it approves the proposal, it will be presented to the WHO’s full annual General Assembly in May 2010.

Keith Spinks, secretary general of the European Travel Retail Council (ETRC) believes that the proposal will pass the Executive Board and into the General Assembly that is made up of 193 governments, and warns, “If this goes though, it will be a disaster for the industry.”

Should the World Health Organization ratify this proposal, there is an upside.  According to Spinks, this proposal on liquor would not be “binding.”

“It is going to be up to each member country to decide whether to implement the proposal or not.” But, he adds, “My fear is that some countries will and some won’t, leaving us in a big mess.”

In 2005, the WHO tried to ban duty-free tobacco sales through its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC was ratified by 165 countries worldwide, but has yet to be implemented by any country.

A quick review of the members of the World Health Organization may give a clue as to why.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Tourism

All countries which are Members of the United Nations may become members of World Health Organization by accepting its Constitution.  So, which countries are members?

Australia, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, UK, and the USA, to name just a few.  Most all of these countries have one or more international airports with duty free stores selling among other things, spirits, cigars, and cigarettes.

Not only do most of these member countries tout tourism as a major industry, but many also have their signature spirits (and cigars, in some cases) that define them.  Examples are rum from Barbados, limoncello from Italy, and of course, tequila from Mexico.

Where duty free merchants pay inventory/business or other taxes, customers usually pay none.  For these countries, tourism, and the profit made at duty free shops from alcohol and tobacco sales, is directly related to each other.

How much damage could the enforcement of this proposal do?

WHO vs. Patrón

As stated above, duty-free liquor sales from last year amounted to $6.3 billion in 2008.  That accounted for 17.2% of the total global liquor business according to the Drinks International article.

In the April 2008 issue of Impact Magazine, it states that Patrón tequila was also penetrating the travel retail sector overseas, long a key channel for high-end spirits but one in which tequila was underappreciated.  Patrón was aggressively growing its brand by sampling at very visible public relations events in key cities such as London, Athens, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney, all whose countries are members of the World Health Organization.

The Patrón Spirits Company, producers of Patrón tequila, claim on their website to be in over 100 countries and islands worldwide.  Given that there are only 193 members of the WHO, the chances are good that Patrón is available in the duty free stores of most of these member countries.

Assuming that the same 163 countries that ratified the duty free tobacco ban in 2005 also decided to ratify—and enforce–the duty free alcohol ban, the results could be devastating not just for Patrón, but also for Sauza, Brown-Forman (El Jimador brand), and Jose Cuervo, as well as all spirits suppliers, duty free retailers, and airports.

While it seems likely that the World Health Organization’s Executive Board will ratify the alcohol ban proposal, it seems unlikely that any countries will actually enforce it.

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Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

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Salud!!