In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a recent surge in tequila’s popularity since the pandemic. And although tequila sales have been steadily rising for the past five years, 2020 was one of the best years of economic boom for this favored spirit. Why?
Recently, consumers have grown tired of wine. And since the pandemic, there has been an interest in cocktail-making while at home. Also, one can’t forget celebrities like The Rock, Pitbull, George Clooney and Rande Gerber who all have their signature lines of tequila. So, it seems like tequila’s popularity will only continue to gain momentum!
We spoke to the creators of Imperio Real, a boutique line of premium tequila, to better understand its rising popularity.
Owners Rafael Loza and Doug Jeffery believe their brand of tequila represents a new, high-end expression of this much beloved spirit.
Rafael, what made you decide to create a boutique line of tequila?
I was raised in the area where tequila is made. As a boy, I would see hills covered with blue agave, and my dad always had a good amount of high-quality tequila around the house for special occasions. Tequila has been a part of my life since as early as I can remember.
How did you come up with the concept of Imperio Real Tequila?
Ten years ago, I noticed there wasn’t a lot of attention given to tequila as far as it being a superior product. I decided to give it the special recognition it deserves.
Our concept is to use top quality design craftsmanship and components to give Imperio Real Tequila a royal look. We want this tequila compared to great scotch, whiskey or any other top-quality spirit.
You grew up in the region where tequila is made. Tell us about where you grew up and how tequila influenced your childhood.
I grew up in Tototlan, Mexico. This is an area of Jalisco where the climate is mild and the volcanic soil is rich in minerals. The earth here has a reddish tonality and is high in nutrients. This is what the blue agave species needs to grow to its maximum potential.
I grew up around these fields, and my dad was always sharing his good stash of tequila. My father was proud to serve only the best tequila the region had to offer.
As a child, this made me wonder what made a superior tequila? What made a product worth being proud of? This got my attention and I believed I could come up with a product worthy of this region.
It seems like every celebrity now has a line of tequila. How and why has tequila become the hot and trendy spirit across the globe?
The media has helped in giving popularity to tequila. This is why so many fans are learning about the product now. It is becoming trendy and more distilleries are competing to create great products. This is good because people are finally noticing premium quality tequila.
Celebrities have also helped in popularizing tequila. And the accessibility of knowledge due to social media and the internet has helped people all over the world become more educated about this unique product.
For those of us unfamiliar with tequila, what do you recommend pairing it with? And how do you recommend drinking tequila?
For those not familiar with tequila, there are two types: 50% and 100%. Regarding 100% premium quality tequila, I would recommend drinking it “neat”. This means drinking it with no water or ice. It should be served in a fluted glass at room temperature. This is a great product and is sacrilegious to mix it with anything else.
Pairing it with a citrus dessert or salad, I would recommend a silver tequila.
Extra Anejo tequila can be enjoyed with dark chocolate or nuts.
What sets Imperio Real Tequila apart from the rest? What makes it so special and unique?
I think it is special because I’m not doing it for fame or money. I’m not famous. I dedicated my heart to developing a piece of art. This is a unique product; every element of the process including the bottle and packaging is overseen by me.
Every detail means something including the coat of arms which honors my mother’s last name. Tequila was the first drink I ever shared with my father. And it was always the staple with my family. So, I’m very proud of this tequila. I don’t have millions of dollars to create it. But, I have spent countless hours with a chemist at the distillery to come up with the ideal taste profile for Imperio Real Tequila.
I believe we have come up with the perfect product.
Doug, Rafael’s dream was to create a superior line of tequila. How did you help him fulfill his dream?
We are partners in a production design company, 41 Sets. I believe we are on a creative journey together. He presented the concept of Imperio Real Tequila to me with such passion. So, I immediately jumped on board to help him execute this vision.
What are some of the more memorable experiences you have had with Rafael in Mexico while creating Imperio Real?
It’s been quite a journey just to learn the process of making tequila. I’ve learned more about him by visiting the town where he was born. I realize these were the building blocks that made him into the man he is today.
Experiencing the culture of Mexico opened my eyes to the entire process of making a premium quality spirit. We visited distilleries and met the artisans of Mexico in the tequila industry. And I learned about the pride that goes into creating tequila that comes from Jalisco.
What do you think makes tequila a unique spirit?
Regarding Imperio Real tequila, we have a very hands-on approach to choosing the individual blends and top-quality ingredients to create the final profile.
The holidays are coming up. Do you have any recommendations on adding tequila into our holiday plans?
Celebrate special occasions with the best spirit you can offer. Tequila is made with love, so it is perfect for the holidays.
It evokes the spirit of passion and heritage. It is about family and togetherness, so what better spirit to celebrate the holidays with!
Love and tequila for all!