Ben Williams is not new to creating products, companies, or excitement in his community. His family has a rich history of entrepreneurialism in Houston, but sometimes you have to push yourself further. Ben's fascination with flavor and distillation led him to create the lush and delicious Highway Vodka. Learning how to distill from scratch and often under the cover of moonlight, he chose to use the highly nutritious and rich oiliness of hemp seed to ferment his Vodka. Made from scratch and batch distilled, the resulting distillate is really incredible. We talk about classicism, prejudice, Texas distilling, and more.
Alexandra Dorda has spent her entire life in the hospitality and spirits industry. Her family created and produces the much lauded Chopin Vodka. After a departure for academia and the finance industry, a healthy creative bug threw Alexandra back into the world of spirits. The resulting Kasama Rum is a homage to Alexandra's love and connection with the Philippines. A delicious rum with beautiful tropical notes, Kasama Rum launched right before the world changed with COVID, but now, the momentum is building back up as Alexandra travels the states sharing her beautiful spirit. We chat inspiration, art, and travel.
The world suffered a massive loss in April when the titan of life, Tomas Estes, passed. For those of you that had the opportunity to meet this larger than life soul, we have the stories and memories of being in his presence. A lover of life, agave, love, and art, Tomas' legacy will echo for decades to come. I offer a few parting words here and we revisit my favorite of the 2 interviews with the legend. We chat travel, choices, Tequila, and so much more.
Ben Scott has had an illustrious career in the hospitality industry. And as many of us have those "dark nights in a Mexican bar drinking Mezcal" stories, Ben turned this into a life changing project. As the importer for Mal Bien and Lalocura mezcales, he has built amazing relationships with families and is sharing spirits in the right way. But as the category continues to grow and prices continue to fluctuate, how do you continue to navigate such a treacherous industry? We chat whiskey, NY, change, and legendary drinking tales.
Alejandro Rossbach, CEO of Maguey Spirits, loves language, challenges, and paving the way for new roads. With a love for hospitality and the inclination to hustle, Alejandro returned to his home city of CDMX to start working with Mezcal. His love of Mexico further developed as did his passion to do different things. The signs and roads led him to Durango, where the delicious Mezcal Burrito and Señor Sotol are crafted. We chat about guitar, language, and doing things never before done.
Tyler Jay Wang is a personable, likable, and massive personality in the Agave industry. His years behind the bar transitioned into one of the best roles in Tequila, brand ambassador for El Tesoro. His rich experience in acting, theater, and arts bring a unique experience to the way in which he recants tales of the Camarena legacy. We sit down and chat after a year of not doing any interviews in person. We are back to a new beginning. We chat social media, superman complex, family, and of course El Tesoro.
As our previous lives trickle into the new reality post shut-down, what have we learned? Robert Björn Taylor is taking his learnings in stride. As one of the most formidable forces in Texas cocktails, his background as a creative gives him boundless tools. But what happens when life moves too quickly, and the vices around us push us into a darker place? For some it leads to self destructive art, and for others like Björn, it leads to a chapter of sobriety and freedom. We chat Hitchcock, BLM, emo music, and more.....
I always applaud transparency and creativity in spirits. And in the world of Scotch, sometimes a different approach is the breath of fresh air we all need. This is Compass Box. James Saxon, assistant whisky blender at Compass Box, has an interesting background and introduction into blending. As a literature student, he quite literally looked for alcoholic references in books and translated how that reflected a characters significance. Compass Box has recently created new packaging and new blends for their flagship Artist's Blend and Glasgow Blend. But why 2 blends, why 2 cities? James tells all as we sip through the 2 delicious marks. We chat colors, season, and the Compass Box way.
Juan Coronado has an exceptional resume of pursuits from behind and beyond the bar. With travels all the over world imparting creative cocktail expertise, and sharing that certain something over 25 years in the hospitality industry can provide, one could call Juan "accomplished". But as it happens with truly brilliant people, there is always a new frontier. Juan's creation Mijenta Tequila combines his years of spirits expertise with his love of Mexico. We chat DJ'ing, daq's, history, and more.
Roberto Contreras Jr is a 5th generation distiller in Sonora, MX. His family's legacy is capture in every beautiful bottle of Rancho Tepúa. With his new Vinatero series, Roberto captures even more nuance of the ranch with a beautiful Lechuguilla and Palmilla. His mix of rancher and academic balance perfectly pair to spread the beauty of Bacanora in the states. We chat Deftones, wrestling, education, and facing our age.
Read Spear is a determined, ambitious, and insightful business person. His thirst for ideas and bringing his projects to fruition are imbibed with great passion. So when he started to delve into the world of agave, it was just a matter of time until he'd bring some of the most amazing spirits into the US. His brand, Cuentacuentos Mezcal, is just NOW hitting Texas in a big way. The delicious marks demonstrate Read's commitment to wonderful flavor and quality. Back in January of 2019 we sat down and chatted about this journey and so much more, but the story is more relevant than ever.
Ranch20 founder Amerlia Lettieri learned entrepreneurialism from a hard working, and accounting-minded mother. When Amelia added her drive, a degree, and a fearlessness to make a dream a reality, she arrived at her delicious Ranch20 canned cocktails. Starting with the Ranch Water cocktail, a Texas treasure with tequila, lime, and soda, Amelia committed to using actual spirits in production. The difference in taste is incredibly apparent. We talk about funding, family, and fear. Raise your Ranch Water in the air on 4/11 to celebrate National Ranch Water day.
The evolution and growth of Texas Whiskey has been catapulted by Balcones Distilling. And although the whiskey can at times be polarizing, understanding why it is the way it is, is ultimately an incredible tale. To think of Jared Himstedt as JUST a master distiller, would be a disservice to his pensive and philosophical lens about the world around us. We talk punk rock, what nature tells us, and how death is handled differently by everyone.
Sal Chavez has adapted beautifully to shut down. Despite all of the challenges in launching a brand during COVID, he finds a way to bring his Michoacán Mezcal, La Luna, to the lips of many. It's no wonder that he continues to bring amazing products to the hospitality industry because he grew up in it. We chat basketball, music, and returning to your roots.
Jesse Hubbard has been a cocktail slinging, ex-moshing, creator for his entire life, but like many, has really dove into his passions during shutdown. With a background in radio, production, and bartending, where does the passion go when you can't be behind the bar? Back to the roots......Punk Rock. Pairing punk rock with cocktails seems like a no-brainer, but Jesse finally articulated it with his new book Punk Rock and Cocktails, where he pays homage to his roots and nods to his future. We chat New Jersey, KROQ, pit camaraderie, and more.
Ryan Perry is the master blender for Heaven's Door whiskey. The collaborative project with Bob Dylan is one of many in Ryan's career. With his sights set on big city opportunity as a kid living in rural Michigan, the goals kept getting bigger, and the achievements more vast. We chat being present, retirement (or lack thereof), and blending whiskey with your sense of smell.
Ismael Gomez, founder of Laika Spirits, has brought some of the rarest and delicious spirits into the States. From a love of Sotol with Flor Del Desierto, Cruz de Fuego Mezcal, or Tuxca with Balancan, his affinity for the esoteric and seemingly unattainable flavors allow us to taste them en masse. But what makes this expanding catalog of spirits function, how have things changed in shutdown, and will Ismael every stop and lounge on a beach someday? We chat, GDL, college, laws, and fear.
Casa Lumbre's Cesar Sandoval has achieved a lot in a little time because of one key personality characteristic: transparency. Ask him whatever, he's an open book of knowledge, compassion, and drum fills. His latest chapter with Abasolo Mexican Whiskey and Nixta Licor de Elote bring him into the fields of corn running throughout Mexico. With a little bit of shaking and a little bit of stirring, corn can change everything. We chat microphones, self reflection, and Cacahuazintle.
Khrys Maxwell is well known in the agave world. His dedication to production transparency, science, and digging into the details is bar none. But many people don't realize his dedication to music and education help fuel his passions. How's shutdown life? And where do you go when you're paving your own road? We chat KISS, teaching, love, and loss.
Jorge Gaviria has devoted years to understanding the culture, the people, and the logistics around corn production. The resulting project, Masienda, is now the industry leader in providing quality masa, heirloom corn, and tortilla cooking accessories. The journey to this amazing project is steeped in deep analysis, introspection, and travel. What started as a moment of translation, turned into a massive corn movement. We chat mezcal, NYU, civil unrest, and how we learn.