For Michael Rowe, creating a new tequila brand all began as a hobby and is quickly turning into a dream.
“I grew up in California and spent a lot of time in Mexico. Not surprisingly, I quickly acquired a passion for tequila. Not only for its flavor, but also tequila’s link to its ancient Aztec culture,” he says.
At one point, Rowe realized he wanted to create his own brand to learn more about the spirit’s history, origins, and manufacturing process, and discover for himself why tequila is considered the “Mexican by Excellence” beverage and part of the way of life for many Mexican people.
The journey and education began … creating Tezcazul.
When Rowe set off to fulfill his passion, he headed to what some experts consider the birthplace of tequila: Amatitàn, Jalisco, Mexico.
“I made a contact in Guadalajara and we drove to Amatitàn, about an hour outside the city. We hiked through the cobblestone streets, knocking on distillery doors, and spoke to many knowledgeable tequileros about their product and processes,” he says. “Then, I met the man who had all of the right answers [I was looking for], so we sipped samples, smiled, and shook hands. The next thing you know, I am contemplating brand names, searching for bottle-makers, designing labels, and doing everything else that is required to obtain my personal stash of handcrafted tequila.”
After learning about the United States—and Mexican—federal licensing requirements and importation processes for a couple hundred bottles, Rowe asked himself, “Why am I not doing this as more than just a hobby?”
That moment, Tezcazul tequila was born, and would now become available for everyone to enjoy.
Rowe knew from the outset what he wanted. Not only did he want a pure tequila, manufactured in the traditional fashion, but also free of any additives, as well as being certified organic.
“I wanted a product I could be very proud of,” he says of his tequila. “A tequila that pays homage to the Aztec gods who first discovered its magical qualities.”
Hence the brand name was decided: Tezcazul. A blend of letters starting with the first few from Tezcatlipoca, the ancient Aztec god of the nocturnal skies, and the Spanish word for blue, azul, representing the Blue Weber Agave plant from which the spirit is made.
“We are a handcrafted, artisanal tequila, made from organically farmed, sustainable, 100% blue agave. We implement traditional manufacturing processes and are dedicated to maintaining the purity, quality, and essence of this wonderful Mexican spirit,” Rowe says.
“The response to Tezcazul has been fantastic!” he continues. “Our tequilas are made for everyone, from the shooters, blenders, sippers, and of course, the bottle collectors. Our bottles were intentionally designed in a simple fashion to add to the artisanal quality, but primarily to focus your attention on the liquid inside. It’s all about providing quality, artisanal tequila to those who can truly appreciate tequila.”
There are four Tezcazul tequila expressions. Blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo. Tezcazul Blanco is a natural, pure, earthy expression with hints of herbal and citrus flavors bottled directly from a stainless-steel fermentation tank following a double distillation process. Blanco is the essence and foundation of all Tezcazul tequilas. Tezcazul Reposado is rested for eight months in seasoned American white oak barrels, and is a favorite for sippers and mixers alike. After a timely, precise release, Tezcazul Reposado emits fresh aromas and subtle flavors of vanilla and citrus extracted during its “short” siesta in the cool and dark security of its temporary wooden home. Tezcazul Añejo is aged for 18 months in seasoned American white oak barrels. The rich and flavorful Añejo excites the nose with aromas of smoked agave, caramel, and vanilla. The noticeable amber color is representative of this full-bodied, smooth tequila offers a lingering and lasting experience from the first sip to finish. Tezcazul Extra Añejo is an exceptional representation of a slow, nurturing process, extending over a very patient 60-month period of maturing in seasoned American white oak barrels. Well worth the wait, the Extra Añejo offers sophisticated and savory flavors of vanilla and caramel that truly deserve the title and recognition of a distinguished, unique, fine, handcrafted tequila.
All Tezcazul tequilas are presented in 100% recycled glass bottles. Tezcazul is imported by El Tomandante Importers, LLC (also owned by Rowe).
Bringing Tezcazul to the U.S market
While Rowe created Tezcazul and is the importer, he’s been working with David Fox of International Brands and Beverages to distribute the tequila.
The two have known each other and worked together for many years.
“In the United States, a single company cannot be both an importer and distributor,” Fox explains. “So in late 2018, I started International Brands and Beverages in Tucson to distribute the brand in Arizona for El Tomandante and Tezcazul.”
Today, Fox has moved the base of International Brands and Beverages’ operations to Phoenix, and there are now four managing partners—Fox; his son, Matthew; and Tammy and Eric Fellows—guiding it through the start-up of sales and marketing. They have located world headquarters in a newly refurbished space in the Scottsdale Airpark that includes offices, a warehouse, and facilities for introducing Tezcazul to new clients with private tastings.
International Brands and Beverages is the exclusive distributor for Tezcazul and the brand is the company’s primary focus. In the future, they are open to distributing other brands as Tezcazul becomes successful and opportunities come their way.
Fox says they are launching Tezcazul in the Arizona market first, with other markets to follow.
“Arizona is the seventh largest tequila market in the country, and we chose Phoenix for the launch based on our partners’ long history in the area and its high percentage mix of restaurants, bars, and retail outlets that sell tequila,” he says.
“The distinctive thing about Tezcazul is that it’s a smooth, well-rounded, great-tasting tequila that adheres to traditional production methods with no additives,” he says. “I think that the work that Mike has done with the distiller to create unique flavor profiles separates it from the other tequilas out there, and it’s certified organic and kosher.
“This is all about providing a quality, artisanal tequila to those who appreciate tequila,” says Rowe.
For more information and where to purchase Tezcazul, visit Tezcazul.com. Instagram: @tezcazul
2 oz. Tezcazul Blanco
1 grapefruit wedge
2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
½ oz. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. sugar
2 oz. club soda (¼ cup)
Pour some kosher salt on a plate. Rub half of the rim of a highball glass with a grapefruit wedge; dip the rim of the glass in salt. Combine grapefruit juice, lime juice, and sugar in the glass; stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in mezcal or tequila, add ice, and top off with club soda. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.
2 oz. Tezcazul Blanco or Reposado
½ oz. lime juice, freshly squeezed
3-4 oz. ginger beer
Lime wheel (for garnish)
Fill a copper mug with ice. Add tequila, lime juice, and ginger beer, and stir to combine. Garnish with a lime wheel.
2 oz. Tezcazul Blanco
4 oz. orange juice, freshly squeezed
¼ oz. grenadine
Orange slice (for garnish)
Cherry (for garnish)
Add the tequila and then the orange juice to a chilled highball glass filled with ice. Top with the grenadine, which will sink to the bottom of the glass, creating a layered effect. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.