Bingewatch Open Bar

vida tequila, open barUnfortunately, Lisa & John Barlow of Vida Tequila have had to reschedule their appearance on Open Bar.

Please feel free to catch up on our first 13 weeks of the 2015 season of Open Bar.  We’ll be back in June with more episodes of Open Bar featuring De La Tierre Maple Tequila, Revel Avila Agave Spirits, Vida Tequila and more!

If you’d like to schedule a future appearance on Open Bar, feel free to email Mike@TequilaAficionado.com.

What is Open Bar?

Every Monday, Mike Morales and Lisa Pietsch co-host the first tequila talk show, Tequila Aficionado’s Open Bar, where they interview movers, shakers, and up-and-comers in the Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol, and agave spirits industries.

Vida Tequila

SOPHISTICATION + PASSION

Greatness is rarely a product of research and formula alone. True greatness comes from the passion, pride, and relentless pursuit of perfection. Our entire line of ultra-premium, award-winning tequilas is crafted in Arandas, Mexico, from a single ingredient: 100% pure, highland-grown Tequliana Weber Blue Agave. Only 60% of the distilled product ever makes it into the bottles through the process of cutting the Heads and Tails. To ensure purity of flavor, the bottles are washed in their respective style of tequila before being filled with the finished product. While the Blanco is bottled after the distillation process, the Reposado is aged in white oak barrels for six months, and the Anejo is aged in French oak barrels for 24 months. We embrace the process and strive to make the most sophisticated product; they are the keys to greatness uncommon.

De La Tierre Maple Tequila

The story is simple, It all started out with an epiphany that hit Troy Bilodeau January 31st 2010.

A then long time friend Wayne Rezunyk and Troy put their heads together and started testing that day, this was followed with a little research (tasting) okay okay a lot of research, then they agreed that they maybe on to something. Countless hours of, testing and researching and the duo came up with what is now “De la Tierre” Canadian Maple Tequila. With a lot of effort, belief, luck and unquenchable desire to make this spirit a true blend of Canadian and Mexican taste at their finest, “De la Tierre” Canadian Maple Tequila was born !

Extensive “testing and researching” later and partnering with Ralph Berezan who had the same desire and vision, we are now able to offer a unique flavored Tequila, the only Canadian Maple flavored Reposado currently on the world market. The name De la Tierre is slang in Spanish for “from the Earth or of the Earth” as both the Canadian Maple tree and the Mexican Agave plant are grown in the Earth.

No longer just for our friends and family, you are invited to enjoy this very special blend of spices, 100% pure Canadian maple syrup, mixed with a gold medal winning 100% Blue agave Reposado Tequila from Mexico. “De la Tierre” Canadian Maple Tequila will be available for the enjoyment of all.

We hope you enjoy the plethora of tastes that this flavored Tequila has to offer!

Revel Avila Agave Spirits

With the introduction of something 500 years in the making.  An agave spirit made in the Morelos region of Mexico, grounded in the purity of tradition and imagined to a new level. Timeless, tirelessly crafted, rooted in history, family and graced by the light of the setting sun.  It has taken us more time to be born than any other spirit has been alive.  And now, we are Revel, here for the rebellion against expectation.  To slake the thirst you knew you had.  And to cause another one for more.

From us.  For you, Mas Espiritu!

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!

Women In The Tequila Industry: Lisa Barlow

One of the more intriguing Tequila Boss Ladies, is the brains–and grace–behind Vida Tequila, Lisa Barlow.

A contestant on Last Tequila Standing, and a participating brand during our 2015 Dia de los Muertos Tequila & Mezcal Tour, Ms. Barlow works tirelessly to keep Vida’s image and flavor fresh and consistent.

Aside from being a Woman In The Tequila Industry, Lisa was also a partner in one of the most celebrated restaurants in Park City, Utah, called Silver.  Up until June 2015, it hosted wildly popular events that were the hottest tickets to come by during the star-studded Sundance Film Festival.  In 2016, a pop-up Vida Tequila Lounge continued that tradition at Sundance.

A triple threat, this wife and mother of two also runs a marketing firm based in future VIDA ownersNew York.  Lisa Barlow makes working her businesses seem effortless, and does it all with flawless style.

Here are her thoughts on our customary handful of questions.

***

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

LB:  I have never felt as though the challenges in the spirits industry stem from being a woman.  I have a strong vision for VIDA and a strong business acumen.  I like being in an arena where I am constantly challenged and the spirits industry gives me that opportunity.

Man or woman, it really doesn’t matter; what matters is that you are on point and doing the right things for your business.  Being a mother of two boys, I think its a great example for them to see me work hard at our family business.

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

VidaLogo

LB:  One always hopes they are making a difference.

When we launched in 2007 there were less than 400 tequila brands in the USA.  For me it was important that the brand had a clear vision and an authentic one.  Your customers feel your passion.  It engages them into your product and drives them to search for more information, which helps the category.

I love what I do.  I really wanted to integrate things that were important to me into our brand.  We launched with a beautiful white package that was very Lisa_Vidadifferent from the bright colors and busy boxes we were seeing on the store shelves.

I also incorporated my vision of what tequila should be in early advertisements; tequila is modern, sophisticated.

We had campaigns that said “NO WORM, JUST ROCKS,” or “VIDA COUTURE” moving VIDA away from the cliches and stereotypes.  This is one thing and those things take time and [it] was challenging in the beginning.

[It is] much easier to launch a brand today with how much education is now available, that was not there when we launched.

Being able to make a great tequila is beautiful.  Everything from the plant to the process is bold.  To be able to take this into the USA and other countries and grow the category is huge.  I am very involved because I love what we produce and our brand, VIDA.

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

LB:  As the category continues to rise, so will the number of women who work within the category and the roles they play.  From Distiller to CEO, I think there will be a lot of growth and changes on multiple levels.

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

LB:  This is a tough question.

There is an art to making tequila.  From start to finish; to me it’s beautiful.  The rich history of this spirit is in Mexico – it’s important to maintain this.

Within any industry, it’s important to make sure that production and distribution are continually evaluated.

Change is good, always.  We are constantly trying to evolve and put our focus on a global future.

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?

LB:  Its an amazing industry to be a part of.  Have a clear plan and go for 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!

The BIG Business Of Kosher Tequila, Part IV

Why Go Kosher?

dulce vida, anejo, tequila, kosher tequilaThat’s what we asked several Kosher tequila and mezcal brand owners and ambassadors.  Some of their reasons may surprise you.

Richard Sorenson, Founder of Dulce Vida Tequila, the only 100 proof organic tequila to date, comes from an organic foods background having developed the first USDA organic energy drink on the market to gain national distribution.

“Kosher certification is not something we focus heavily on,” admits Sorenson.  Yet, in Dulce Vida’s case, it legitimizes and solidifies the company’s pledge to the consumer to be “authentic and pure.”  

In fact, Sorenson does not believe that “organic and kosher certification are mutually exclusive” and instead, go hand-in-hand.

Lisa Barlow, co-founder with her husband, John, of Vida Tequila.vida tequila, kosher tequila

“Kosher means ‘fit  or appropriate.’  Some people think that all tequila (blanco) is kosher.

“One thing we do, under kosher certification, is to use a kosher certified yeast for the fermentation process.  Not all brands do this. 

I love kosher law in general, and feel it’s been something I’m proud to say VIDA is.

“I know it’s trendy now to say you’re Kosher but for us it’s something we have been proud of since launching in 2007.  To me it shows we care about the quality of our 100% Agave Azul line of tequila.

“I’m proud our product carries the kosher logo.”

Camille Austin, brand ambassador for Montelobos mezcal–

“To be Kosher is to guarantee, in all aspects of production, that all standards of cleanliness which the Jewish religion requires are met. 

“This is an interesting subject I’ve touched with Ivan [Saldaña, developer of Montelobos mezcal] quite a bit, as well.  In mezcal production, as you know with its diversity, a number of things can be crucial elements to ensuring all requirements are fulfilled.

“For starters, guaranteeing there are no animal products (meats or insects) that contaminate the process. Therefore, a traditional Pechuga mezcal could not be considered Kosher.

“Another important element would be to ensure that all animals involved in production are treated with dignity and respect as is the case with our beloved mule Rambo, who pulls the Tahona to make the Montelobos mash.

“We thoroughly pick through all our raw material, the espadin [agave], one by one, and make sure there are no worms, beetles or other insects.

“Fermentation is key as not all yeast used to make agave spirits has a Kosher origin.  In the case of Montelobos, we ferment naturally in open air, without adding yeast, for a controlled period of no more than 7 days.

montelobos, kosher mezcal
The many facets of Montelobos mezcal.

“There are many organizations globally that are dedicated specifically to audits and certifications such as this.  At Casa Montelobos, we are certified and audited every few months through the OU, or Orthodox Union, based in New York City which is one of the most strict and internationally recognized Kosher organizations in the world.

“On the back label of each bottle you will find a big circled “U” identifiable with this organization.

“You could say that to be certified Kosher is to be disciplined, consistent and organized in your production process.  It is a demonstration to those, albeit those who enjoy your product as consumers or those who are your mezcalero piers, that you are an open book with how you make your product.

“At Montelobos, although a quite small production, we are very proud of the final product and are committed to maintaining the cleanest and most natural standards to make our mezcal.”

With help from Leyenda del Milagro’s brand ambassador, J.P. DeLoera,

Moises Guindi, co-founder of Milagro explains:

“As you may know, kosher certification is related to certifying that a product complies with a set of rules stated in the Jewish religion. 

“That said, Tequila in its essence and based on the laws that regulate tequila production (NOM) would be with some exceptions I will point out, Kosher.

“That said, in order for a product to be Kosher, it requires an audit to ensure it does not fall into the exceptions that would make it non-Kosher.

“These exceptions, in the case of tequila, would be related in adding additives or flavoring agents that may contain a non-kosher ingredient.  Other exceptions would be certain yeasts and the aging in barrels that contained non-kosher products beforehand such as Brandy or Wine.

“The Kosher certification also requires that there are no insects inside the bottles so quality controls to ensure this are required.

“On the  commercial side, being Kosher is an enabler for all those consumers being Jewish or not that are looking to buy products that do not contain any non kosher ingredients.”

From Cesar Barba, Production Planning and Warehouse Coordinator at Milagro’s distillery:

“As Moisés stated, Kosher is a certification to ensure the Jewish community that the production process is compliant with the Jewish religion.

“That being said, this certification is made annually by a certification house that sends a rabbi to make sure that the agave, the distillery, and the barrels (if used), are all Kosher compliant.

“The rabbi sent by the certification house is like an external auditor, so it varies depending on the auditors’ availability, hence why there is no particular rabbi coming to OPTE.  Also, there are some “surprise” visits during the year to make sure we are still Kosher compliant.

“We are certified with KMD, whose logo can be seen in the back label, but there several other certification houses and they are all recognized worldwide.

“The main advantage of being Kosher certified is that you can reach a very specific market niche.

milagro“Given the previous statements, we are Kosher because:

–       We are Kosher certified.

–       Our third-party distiller partner is Kosher certified.

–       We use Kosher certified products from non-animal origin during our production process.

–       Our barrels did not hold any non-Kosher products.

–       We have annual certification visits and one or two audits during each year, depending on the external auditor’s (rabbi) availability.

“Moy basically shared that one of the most important processes to scrutinize is fermentation, where producers may add non-kosher yeast and other additives i.e.:  urea.”

DeLoera concludes, “Finally, a neat story is that Danny and Moy are from different Jewish backgrounds.  Danny is from the Ashkenazi heritage, and Moy from the Sephardim heritage.

“Because Jewish weddings demand all products be Kosher, and Danny and Moy wanted Milagro at their weddings (of course!).  Initially Milagro was certified by agencies from each and both Jewish traditions.  Now it is a bit of good banter, and the one that stands is KMD, which is from the Sephardim tradition, and KMD is known to hold the strictest audits and standards.”

See The Miracle Men Behind Milagro Tequila videos here.

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!

The BIG Business of Kosher Tequila, Part I

[An urgent text message about Kosher tequilas from an agave beverage manager at a thriving new bar in New York City, and the resulting questions raised from research into this misunderstood market from all points–tequila and mezcal brand owners, consumers, and rabbinical representatives of the Jewish faith–prompted me to finally discuss the positive, often flawed, and vastly under served kosher tequila and mezcal segments of the market.]

A Rant on Kosher Tequila…

For years, anyone who’s ever searched for a current list of kosher tequilas has no doubt been directed to the website of the largest regional Jewish Orthodox organization in North America, the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc).

Those same persons were tragically disheartened by the woefully meager list of kosher tequilas–and these days–unmentioned mezcals.  And of the brands that were listed, more often than not, were now, sadly, extinct.

This old, outdated, and unreliable list is not only supposed to be a guide to fully enjoy and appreciate the Jewish holidays and to help “keep kosher” year round, but it also serves Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists, Vegetarians, Vegans and even people who are lactose or glucose intolerant.

So…

What Exactly Is Kosher, Anyway?

kosher_def-filtered

For us gentiles (non-Jews), Kashrut is the set of Jewish religious dietary laws.  Food that may be consumed according to halakha (Jewish law) is deemed kosher meaning fit, and in this case, fit for eating or drinking.

In every case, approved products are given a hechsher, a rabbinical seal of approval, by a trusted and reputable kosher certifying agency that signifies the food or drink conforms to Jewish law.

Here’s a helpful Kosher glossary of terms.

quely-obtains-the-kosher-certificationHistorically, the practice of marking food as kashrut dates back as far as the Byzantine period (6th century CE) where Jews of a particular region in Israel stamped their bread dough with impressions of the Jewish Temple Menorah in order for consumers to verify its kashrut.

In 1911, soap manufacturer, Procter & Gamble became the first company to advertise a new product, Crisco, as kosher.  Over the next twenty years, companies with household names like Lender’s Bagels, Maxwell House, and Manischewitz grew the kosher market.  And who can forget that famous slogan for Hebrew National hotdogs?–“We answer to a Higher Authority.”

Decades later, kosher has come to symbolize both quality and value.  It has also become a very lucrative market according Menachem Lubinsky, founder of the annual two-day Kosherfest trade fair.  As of 2015, he estimates there are as many as 14 million kosher consumers that generate $40 billion in sales of kosher products in the US alone.

Other sources estimate that over $150 billion of kosher-certified products are consumed every year in the US.

Kosher Certifying Agencies

A kosher certification agency is an organization that bestows a hechsher to ingredients, packaged foods, beverages, and certain materials, as well as food-service providers and facilities in which kosher food is prepared or served.  This certification verifies that the ingredients, production methods, and/or food-service processes and utensils complies with the standards of kashrut.

To be certified requires periodic onsite visits, sometimes unannounced, by mashgichim (rabbinic field representatives) in order to verify ongoing compliance.

Today, the largest kosher certification agencies in the United States, known as the “Big Five,” certify more than 80 percent of the kosher food sold domestically.  These five agencies are: the OU, OK, Kof-K, Star-K, and cRc

most_commonK

Other respected kosher certifying agencies around the globe include:

EarthKosher based in Colorado, the logo of both the Johannesburg/Cape Town Beth Din used in South Africa, MK headquartered in Montreal, Canada, and The Kashrut Authority in Sydney, Australia.  Operating across six continents including the United Kingdom, KLBD, based in London, is the Kashrut Division of the London Beth Din.

By far, the greatest number of agencies seems to be in the USA.

Kashrus Magazine publishes a bi-annual guide to almost all kosher certifying agencies worldwide.  As with the tequila NOM lists, the number of agencies, just like the number of tequila brands and distilleries, fluctuates from year to year.  At press time, this number is between 1,151 to 1,253.

When In Mexico…

In Mexico and throughout Latin America, however, KA-Kosher  and Kosher Maguen David (KMD) rule the roost when it comes to certifying products as kosher.

KA Kosher, Kosher

As per KA-Kosher’s Facebook page:

“El sello KA KOSHER es el único en México aprobado por el Tribunal Rabínico de Israel.  Es el logo de la Comunidad Ashkenazí, el único en Latinoamérica aprobado por el Alto Tribunal Rabínico de Israel.  Bajo su sello se encuentran marcas como Nestlé, JUMEX, Del Monte, LALA y casi 500 empresas más.”

(“The KA-KOSHER seal is the only one in Mexico approved by the Rabbinical Tribunal of Israel [Chief Rabbinate Council of Israel].  It is the logo of the Ashkenazi community, the only one in Latin America approved by the High Rabbinical Tribunal of Israel [again, Chief Rabbinate Council of Israel].  Beneath its seal are such brands as Nestlé, JUMEX, Del Monte, LALA and almost 500 more companies.”)

KMD, kosher

KMD’s current website makes even bolder claims such as “Es la empresa líder en certificación kosher en Latinoamérica” (“The leading company in kosher certification in Latin America.”).

It also cites statistics that Mexico is the fourth largest kosher market behind Israel, the United States, and France, and that sales of kosher products, presumably in these countries, exceeds non-kosher sales by 20 percent.  KMD also states that 80 percent of kosher sales are to non-Jewish consumers.

KMD, stems from the Sephardic community of Jews and is known to follow the strictest codes and standards of kashrut, referred to as Mehadrin.

 Decisions, Decisions…

states, jewish

Similar to organic certifying agencies, having your tequila or mezcal brand approved as kosher requires that you hire one of these kosher certifying agencies.  Like buying a car, you don’t necessarily need to purchase one from a local dealership.

You can go anywhere in the world, but with so many certifying agencies and what seems like varying degrees of inspection, can you feel confident about purchasing their services?

Who Do You Trust?

If you’re a tequila or mezcal brand owner considering certification, we’ll offer some tips and steps you can take in Part 2.

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!

Last Tequila Standing: Vida Tequila

 

Vida Tequila SOPHISTICATION + PASSION

Greatness is rarely a product of research and formula alone. True greatness comes from the passion, pride, and relentless pursuit of perfection. Our entire line of ultra-premium, award-winning tequilas is crafted in Arandas, Mexico, from a single ingredient: 100% pure, highland-grown Tequliana Weber Blue Agave. Only 60% of the distilled product ever makes it into the bottles through the process of cutting the Heads and Tails. To ensure purity of flavor, the bottles are washed in their respective style of tequila before being filled with the finished product. While the Blanco is bottled after the distillation process, the Reposado is aged in white oak barrels for six months, and the Anejo is aged in French oak barrels for 24 months. We embrace the process and strive to make the most sophisticated product; they are the keys to greatness uncommon.

Find Vida Tequila Online here

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!

How to Get Paid to Drink Tequila:

How you can turn your passion into profits and get paid to drink tequila as a blogger, vlogger, podcaster or author

 

Salud!!