Mexican tequila mogul Guillermo Sauza’s recent visit to South Africa was to explore the premium spirits market and also hark back to tastes from 150 years ago.
There is a sizeable community of tequila-drinkers in Africa. And so it was that Guillermo Sauza, the CEO of Tequila Fortaleza, visited South Africa recently to explore the connoisseur market.
Fortaleza, a small-batch, hand-crafted, 100% agave tequila from the town of Tequila in Jalisco in Mexico, was launched in South Africa over a year ago.
“It is such a beautiful country with so many resources and just great people. Everywhere I’ve gone so far, I’ve been very impressed with the markets here,” said Sauza during his visit.
The fifth generation tequila mogul and founder of Tequila Los Abuelos was here to observe and understand how the tequila market continues to expand, saying people still need to be educated about the different blends.
“There is a big community that likes tequila in Africa. We saw people enjoying it in the bars we went to. There is a bartender community that likes it… [But] I think that there is much education that needs to be done.”
Sauza, who has been working at the distillery in Mexico since his early teens, has mastered the art of traditional methods used by the Sauza patriarchs. The small, family-owned distillery, located on the slopes of an extinct volcano amongst maturing blue agave plants, is where Sauza makes tequila using the same production methods employed by his forefathers.
“We make it like it was made by my great-great-grandfather 150 years ago. This is how all tequila was made 150 years ago but as the market demand increased, people changed to automated machinery which of course changes the tastes that are there. Making it the old way is a taste from a period of time that has been long gone,” said Sauza.
“A baked potato in the microwave is a lot faster but it doesn’t taste the same as the baked potato in the oven. The baked potato in the oven takes longer and that is just one piece of the component that you would say changes. Are we the tequila for the mass market? No we are not. We are the tequila when you have been drinking tequila for a while or a fine spirit and you want to try it. We are the tequila for the 5% -10% of the market; the connoisseur market that understands what they are drinking. Otherwise you don’t see the value proposition, you could go into a bar and you can buy a four-dollar shot or you can buy an eight-dollar shot. At some point in your life, you’ll say I am worth that eight-dollar shot, I am going to drink better and not rasp up my throat.”