We have know tequila as mixto and 100% agave in Europe for a number of years now. Some brands are multinational, like Cuervo, Herradura, Sierra etc. who mostly deal in mixtos, others are 100% agave, and are often somewhat smaller brands with better products.
We still have not seen though, much to flavoured tequilas, and this is actually an interesting concept. The original taste of blanco tequila is fresh, light and often with some light sweetness. Adding flavours to that is probably difficult and yet, some companies take the leap and end up with good results.
One of these brands is Tequila Tanteo, which comes in Blanco, Jalapeno, Chipotle and Habanero. TequilaList has made a small interview with the owner of Tequila Tanteo
Q: Who are you and what is your background?
Neil Grosscup: CEO and Master Blender: I’m pretty darn American — I grew up in the middle of the country (Minnesota) and came out east to run competitive Track and Field at Georgetown University in DC. After school, I developed a passion for cocktails and entertaining, and after moving to New York City I started bartending to make extra money. Long story short: I loved it. Soon, I met two partners with the idea to start a tequila company and 10 years later, well, here we are.
Mena Jibran: My name is Mena Jibran, and I’m the Creative & Marketing Director at Tanteo Spirits. I started working at Tanteo five years ago when our team consisted of just four people
— you’re looking at lucky number four! I was born in Baghdad, raised in Toronto and am currently living in New York City.
My professional background has its roots in the advertising world; I’ve always had a passion for design and storytelling, probably because the apple never falls too far from the tree. Both my parents are artists: my dad is a photographer and my mom is a painter and a fashion designer, so It only seemed natural that I ended up in the creative field.
Q: When and how did you come up with the idea of flavoured tequilas?
We saw a lot of bars in New York City and across the United States that were infusing peppers. In 2006, the CRT (Tequila Regulatory Council) expanded the definition of tequila to allow for 100% agave infusions, and we were off to the races.
Q: How are the flavours extracted from the raw products?
It’s an infusion of overproof tequila with fresh peppers. We blend the macerates together, layering fresh vegetal notes of young peppers with the rich flavor and piquency of aged peppers to make a dimensional final product.
Q: How did you reach a decision on which flavours to include?
We looked at what some bars were already doing and saw how we could build on it — while still keeping it local. Jalapeños, chipotles (roasted jalapeños) and habaneros work really well in margaritas, and all have a very unique application.
Q: We are enormously impressed by the Tequila Tanteo website! This is probably the first time ever, we see a truly beautiful and professional tequila website. How did you manage that?
NEIL: This is the work of our Marketing Director Mena Jibran, who has been instrumental in designing a website that shows the craft that goes into each bottle. Making a great product is one thing, but being able to effectively tell that story across multiple platforms is what gets our infusions in front of the most eyes possible.
MENA: Thank you! When we started designing the website, we made most of our decisions through the lens of our two most important brand filters: Transparency & Craft.
By highlighting our production process at the front of our landing page, we invite the viewer into Tanteo’s creation right off the bat. We actually had a full production team down in Mexico film our entire production process, from start to finish without any models, actors or fabrications. We felt it was important to highlight the real people and processes crafting our product in Mexico.
The second big piece of content on our website illustrates that we’re not just a tequila for cocktails, but the tequila for cocktails by illustrating a number of our favorite recipes. Fresh ingredients are a huge part of our recipes, so we always make a point to display fruits, veggies and natural garnishes without any photoshopping or behind-the-scenes magic. It’s just another way to stay transparent.
We like to talk about our fans as our community as opposed to our audience. It’s why we let our hair down with our blog and share real stories of our growth, where we were and where we’re going.
Q: And when we are at it… the bottle and its graphics are really great too. What kind of thoughts have you given to the bottle with its very recognizable high and slim design? It hints a bit at french lemonade…
NEIL: Thanks, our bottle was designed by our good friend and sculptor, Lincoln Mayne. We wanted to make something that was both functional and beautiful, and we like to think we achieved it.
MENA: Whether you’re a professional bartender or an armchair mixologist, the elongated top offers more comfort, control and precision with each pour. Most tequilas in our category are squat bottles, but we felt this design made more sense for us — and as a bonus, it always sticks out on the liquor store shelves. Quite literally.
The label graphics were first designed ten years ago. They’ve evolved slightly over time, but the overall expression has always remained the same: mixed media hand paint and digital art. It reflects our infusions themselves: traditional tequilas with a modern taste. Our wax seals are actually imported from France, hand stamped with our logo by the women at our distillery in Mexico. Each bottle is numbered by hand. Look closely and you’ll see the batch and bottle number, a simple cue that puts freshness and transparency top of mind.
Q: Parts of the tequila community are very conservative. Have you met any negative reactions to your products?
We are seeing less and less of this. In the early years there was more reservation about Tanteo, seeing as the US market was oversaturated with flavored vodkas. Some consumers assumed our products were made in the same way — with artificial flavorings. When we show the real peppers we put into each bottle, our artisanal production process, and offer a taste of our tequila, it doesn’t take long to sway opinions.
Q: In Denmark and Europe, we are fond of liquorice…. When will we see a liquorice flavoured tequila? 🙂
It’s important to our ethos that we source Mexican ingredients to make our tequila. Though interestingly, Anise is used in Mexican cooking for dishes like Mole Poblano. Perhaps in the future we could experiment with that, but currently we’re staying focused on the things we already know and love, like our higher proof blanco and pepper infusions.
Q: Do you have any plans regarding a launch in Europe?
We would love to, though we’re just scratching the surface here in the US.
We don’t want to get in a position where we overcommit and underdeliver. However, if you know any good distributors looking for an award-winning artisanal tequila, don’t hesitate to send them our way 🙂 In that case you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org