Dr. Javier Martinez was born in Mexico, but has lived in England. His journeys have taken him from the business sector into the study of politics, in which he earned his doctorate. But Dr. Martinez's path has led him back home, at least in a career sense. While he currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and children, he's heard and answered the call of his family business. Dr. Martinez is the President and CEO of Tequila Holdings, Inc., the company behind the new luxury brand known as PaQui.
PaQui, which is an Aztec word for "to be happy," is Dr. Martinez's answer to the opportunity he sees in the American alcohol market. It's been on the market for only five months, but its creation was a long time coming.
Starting in 1997, from his position as an importer and distributor of bulk tequila brands, Dr. Martinez saw the shift in the premium tequila landscape, wherein brands like Patron began to take off.
"We, in Mexico, were not realizing how exciting the word 'tequila' is to the American consumer," said Dr. Martinez. "I sensed potential was huge in the U.S." At about 6 percent of the market, luxury tequila is the fastest-growing category, says Dr. Martinez, "but the base is small." His segment of the market, he believes, could be 10 percent in the next 10-15 years.
Patron, says Dr. Martinez, got the packaging right. With PaQui, he sees an opportunity to make a similarly beautiful bottle, but pair it with a tequila that he feels "represents the best of the industry."
"I thought, 'Let's bring tequila back to tequila,'" Dr. Martinez explained to HispanicBusiness.com, noting that his priority is to highlight the agave,
"Vodka is neutral, for example," he said, "but tequila -- particularly white tequila -- is very rich in flavor and aroma compounds."
PaQui is made with a process he calls "selective distillation," a method that his company spent two years developing. The result, said Dr. Martinez, is "very drinkable, clean, smooth, and finishes with 'I need some more!"
It's a far cry from the tequila many people aged 35 or older may have experienced. The perception imparted in the 1980s and 1990s by lower market brands, notorious for causing headaches, is what PaQui -- and indeed the Mexico-based tequila industry in general -- is attempting to overcome.
"The consumer trading up," said Dr. Martinez, "for less quantity, more quality." Those making high-end, premium tequila are attempting to answer that call.
For the neophyte premium tequila drinker, Dr. Martinez says "the 'silvera' first." That will give the best idea of what the agave plant tastes like. From there, consumers can figure out how they prefer drinking it -- trying it neat or with ice or in a margarita.
"One of the advantages of good tequila is that it's very mixable," Dr. Martinez advised. "You can mix it with almost anything and retain the characteristic of the tequila. Even in a margarita, you can tell what brand is being used. It's an amazing spirit, unlike any other."
After trying the silvera, Dr. Martinez said should a consumer want to experience "more exotic flavors," try the "reposado," which is slightly aged and retains some flavors imparted by the wood barrels used in the aging process. After that, one should try the "anejo," which has been aged even more.
HispanicBusiness.com tried PaQui; as Dr. Martinez suggested, we started out using the silvera. The intensity and lively, almost citrus, flavors were plentiful. We particularly enjoyed it mixed with a little mandarin-lime soda, to tell the truth -- the PaQui stood up very well and the flavors enhanced each other nicely.
Dr. Martinez is attempting to get more people to try PaQui with a focused precision. His company has targeted -- and landed -- several prestigious accounts at high-end establishments, which helps create awareness by association, and high-volume accounts, which helps create awareness by putting the liquid in as many people's mouths as possible.
In addition, on the public relations side, Dr Martinez said "we're creating awareness through tastings with bartenders, for example in San Diego and Venice. We also serve Latin film festivals . . . these are mostly small events with tastemakers."
"The U.S. consumes more tequila than Mexico," he reveals
He's focusing on California focus right now, which accounts for 25 percent of the U.S. market's tequila consumption. Texas, a distant second at 10percent, is on his radar as well.
Only five months into the product's life, Dr. Martinez was quick to acknowledge that his biggest challenge is to continue to get word out to consumers and to spread distribution.
"We have very successful accounts, but we need to open up more."
After all, he believes that there are scores of current and future tequila enthusiasts who haven't yet tried PaQui tequila and don't yet know how "to be happy. "
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