There is a vast number of good, and even excellent tequilas, which never make their way to Europe. There are many reasons… Some are about distribution, some are about the companys economic acumen, some are about language, size of production and so forth. Many reasons…
Sometimes, however a brand manages to get that extra level of attention it takes, to make people on the other side of the globe take an extra look. A couple of years ago it was Casa Dragones and another year it was Tequila Cocollán which made it into Forbes Magazine.
Now, Forbes Magazine is mostly about money, business and business with money, but they do occasionally step out of their comfort zone and make an article on… for instance… tequila! And being Forbes Magazine which has lots of readers with money a mentioning in Forbes can have a big effect on an otherwise relatively unknown brand.
We have reached out to the co-owner and CEO of Tequila Cocollán, Diego Milán Peniche to hear a bit more about the story of Tequila Cocollán and what happened after the Forbes article.
Q: Who are you and what is your background?
My background relies mainly on Administration and Finances. In my earlier years I used to be a Financial Director for different Canadian, British and American companies residing in Latin America. In 2003 I decided to start something on my own and have walked a lot of industries since then such as Construction, BioTech, Plastics, Fast Food, Filmmaking and now Tequila.
By the way, Tequila is a real passion for me because it makes me feel proud to be Mexican. The “boom” of tequila worldwide however, has affected severely the quality of the product. Big companies normally look for high profit margins and sometimes quality is not their priority. There’s where we step in… we are committed to quality; we are producing the product the way it should be like our ancestors did 200 years ago. We do not speed up fermentation, we do not add chemicals or artificial products and we love waiting for the barrel to give our product a particular and unique taste. This is not easy since the AGAVE (the agave that is used as raw material for Tequila) takes from 5 to 7 years to grow. So, we have learnt to be patience. 7 years for harvest and 5 more years to get our Extra Añejo (which was the one mentioned by Forbes Magazine ® as the number one Premium Tequila.
By the way, I believe is worth to mention that Tequila Cocollan is only for Mexican sales, our international brand is named TEQUILA COCULA.
Q: When did you get into the tequila business?
I got into this business in 2015.
Q: What is your role in Tequila Cocollan? Did you start the brand?
As mentioned before, my original role was to do all legal, tax, administration and finance matters, but once I stepped in, I saw that the big challenge on this business is on the commercialization/internationalization of the product. So, it has been a great challenge to myself to learn what the consumer wants. At the end is not different around the globe. We’re focused on high end markets, people that don’t mind spending a couple of extra bucks in order to get an excellent product.
I didn’t start the brand, that was the effort of a former primary school mate (Daniel Medrano) that invited me to join the business.
He started the brand back in 2007.
Q: I have been wondering about your website. It seems the brand has its root in Cocula, a small town in vicinity of Guadaljara. Is that where you yourself come from? Incidentally I really like the text about the origin of mariachi music. Interesting.
Well, this is a whole story of its own. The ascendant family of Daniel´s is originally from Cocula (the LAND OF MARIACHI). And we’re convinced that having two core values of our culture in a single brand will always be good. Mariachi and Tequila often goes hand in hand and we’re trying to exploit our culture roots, rather than only selling alcohol.
Q: You seem to be a man of many interests. I found you on IMDB as a producer on no less than 4 movies. The latest from 2019 looks like a really ambitious piece. What is it about and how did you get involved in it?
Haha, you nailed it. Back in 2013 I was preparing a documentary for the 10th anniversary of my small business corporation where I administered the Biotech, Construction and Plastic businesses. I got in touch with a friend of mine that is a movie director, Mr. Sam Reyes and while producing the documentary, doing the interviews to former coleagues, employees and suppliers he came with the idea that Diemy Holdings might get involved in the movie business too. By then, I thought that was a crazy idea since the film industry is well known to require tons of cash, high risk and difficult return on investment.
However, the passion (as always) drove us into this great business. Since then, we’ve been in the AMF (American Film Market -in Santa Monica, California), also in MipCom (in Cannes, France), Ventana Sur (in Buenos Aires, Argentina) and some others of less relevance festivals and markets. During these 7 years we have been able to produce one feature film (Thanks for being my friend) and a documentary (La maleta de Helios). The first involves the friendship of a couple of teenagers, very different on personality and interests, but end up as BFF.
On the other hand, the documentary is about the life of the family of an exiled from the Spaniard Civil War. How a wife and small kids suffer from the absence of their father and how politics might affect the lives of innocents. The other 2 movies that you mention are really shorts with academic purposes, but that serve as good teachers for the big projects. Well, I already extended myself a lot on this subject but our next ambition project is about the life of a 12 years old kid that participates in a competition to attend the FIFA World Cup ® and all the ups and downs that he experiences to achieve this goal.
Sadly, we haven’t been able to access to resources for this production since it involves US$3-5 million budget.
Q: Can you tell a bit about the Forbes article episode? How did it come about and what happened afterwards? I have a bit of background for my interest in this particular thing. I import and sell tequila from my webshop at Tequila.dk. A couple of years ago, Forbes made a small piece on Casa Dragones, a diffuser made tequila and i prompted a LOT of sales on that particular tequila at quite extraordinary prices. I was amazed that the effect was so big from just an article in a magazine and was wondering… “how does this come about and what happens for the brand and producer afterwards?..”
We were the first ones surprised with this article. We didn’t see it coming. As far as we know, the writer of the article in a trip to Mexico (she lives in NY), decided to perform an exhausting research on hand made tequilas produced by small companies. She ended up with a huge list of 100 tequilas (or so) and then they divided the sample into classes (Silver, Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo). We were granted with the honor of being considered by she and her team as THE BEST Premium Tequila, particularly with our Extra Añejo.
A mention like this opens doors, no doubt about it, but also push you to access higher investments and worldwide distribution which has been a real challenge for us, specially since alcohol sales have tons of regulations in most of the countries.
As of today, we have subsidiaries in Houston, Tx (USA), Bogotá (Colombia) and have made successfully our first exports to Quebec (Canada). The challenge in front of us is huge, but we’re working hard to expand our horizons. Our approach to the European Union is planned to be through Hamburg, Germany, but the project is on hold since it requires a considerable amount of cash.
What has happened afterwards? A lot of motivation to keep with the high quality standards’, the opportunity to travel around the globe (3 continents), and looking for investors/partners to achieve global plans.
Q: Regarding Tequila Cocula… when I look it up on TasteTequila.com, it says that is no longer in production. Is that an error, or does it reflect that there is a temporary stock which needs to be sold, before new stuff is produced?
2019 was a challenging year for us. The new federal government in place in our Country is giving us a hard time with some VAT returns, which has severely impacted our cash flow. In addition to that, the factory where we produce our bottle (hand made too) suffered from a huge fire and we ran out of stock, but we’re already solving all this issues. As you can imagine a setback like this when you’re focused on expanding around the world is not an easy task, but we’re certain that we’re going to overcome these barriers soon.
Q: Are you still producing at Nom 1466?
If you want to reach out to Tequila Cocollán/Tequila Cocula and Diego Milán Peniche, they may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org