Bridle & Bit Magazine February 2024 Edition

Page 30

INTERVIEW - RICO AUSTIN Q - When establishing your new Tequila brand, what posed the

greatest challenge in the entire process for you and your team?

A - First of all, thank you

Ms. Tracy for interviewing me about our new BAJARRIBA Tequila brand. We are very excited to share this incredible tasting product made with 100% Blue Weber fully matured agaves from the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. Yes, there were many challenges in creating a new product and especially one where all the ingredients, components and vendors are in a completely different country than the one in which you reside. One of the most difficult tasks was in finding all the vendors necessary for the creation of the bottle itself from locating a mold maker who could manufacture a two-piece steel mold to in which the hot, molten, recycled glass is poured, thus bringing to life the shape of the glass bottle who is another vendor – the glass blower or bottle maker. In having a unique shaped glass bottle of which we wanted to be an artisan hand crafted and painted we then had to locate an artistic bottle painter instead of just having a simple label designed, printed and slapped onto our bottles. Once we had the bottle problems fixed and altered many times so as no breakage issues we then had to get lettering, alcohol content, warning labels and bottle size all approved by both government agencies – the CRT in Mexico and the TBB in the United States (each with their own set of rules and regulations), thus we have two different languages on each bottle – English for the US market and Spanish for the Mexico market. Also, there was the journey of finding a reputable, synthetic cork manufacturer, box manufacturer, and most importantly finding the perfect distillery whose Master Distiller is well respected, trustworthy and Does Not Take Short Cuts in their production process by using young, immature three- to four-year-old agaves and then having to add sugar to create the tequila flavor and making it sweeter than tequila should and originally was made to taste. Then comes the need to acquire an import company to transfer the product from Mexico into the USA. And before all of this we needed to interview and find a good fit for a distributor in both Arizona and California, the first two markets we decided to enter. We have since added Nevada and are looking to find a distributor in Texas as our next state of Bajarriba tequila distribution. From the date I created the Tres Cabo Amigos, LLC in October of 2020 until our first bottle was delivered to us in December 2022 my partners and I had traveled to Guadalajara and the surrounding areas of the state of Jalisco several times to meet with dozens of vendors, distillers before finding the right fit and 30

By Tracy Wager

then traveling back and forth to make certain everything was taking place as planned. Over two years of planning, development, disappointment and finally elation of getting an excellent product to present to the consumer exactly as perceived. One of the most difficult accomplishments in my lifetime with many thanks to my wife Connie who designed the bottle and the co-founders (Jay Nance & Mike Hill), my partners (Mark Nuessle, Marinette Garcia, Ira Gaines & Tom Chambers), the vendors, our distributors who have all played a grand role in helping me create this dream of having my own tequila brand. And thanks to the many restaurants, bars and liquor stores who are helping us get this unique product out to the consumers. Our goal is for Bajarriba to touch as many lips as possible.

Q - Given the vastness of the

tequila market, your decision to design a bottle reminiscent of Baja California aims to make your product stand out. How has this distinctive packaging influenced the launch of your product in 2023?

A - Great question as you are absolutely correct in stating the vastness of the tequila market as there are literally over 3,000 (3136) brands of tequila made in Mexico at 122 registered distilleries according to Tequila Matchmaker a mobile app of which can tell you which tequilas and distilleries are Non-Additive approved as is our distillery NOM 1107 and our brand is currently in process of being certified Non-Additive and added onto the exclusive list of which there are currently only 111 Additive Free brands of which BAJARRIBA will add one to that number. Our decision on creating a unique Baja Peninsula up-side down shaped bottle was based on the three founders having met each other in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California and our love for the Baja and wanting to give tribute to the Mexicans who share their country and their tequila with us gringos. The distinctive packaging has helped us to launch a great product and we set an opening day and opening week sales record with both our California Distributor – 88 Spirits Corp. and with Old Town Tequila, a tequila store and on-line spirits store in San Diego, CA. Bajarriba Tequila sold more bottles on opening day and for the week of any new launching spirits or wine ever for both entities. Even our great friend and consultant Mr. Jim Riley stated in a letter that in all his years in the spirits business and as a founder of his own tequila brand – Azuñia, he had never witnessed such sales success as a new, unknown brand opening. This was due to much social media pre-selling and of sharing our entire process from idea, having the bottle developed, our trips to Mexico, our failures and our triumphs by both Jay Nance and me. Too, I wrote some Blog entries and stories sharing our journey which all helped in a very successful launch.


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