The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2012

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Page 98 of 140

MILAGRO TEQUILA BRAND AMBASSDOR JAIME SALAS LAUNCHES THE BRAND IN RUSSIA—AND SPREADS THE AGAVE GOSPEL STATESIDE Milagro Love From Moscow, with by Lana Bortolot / photos by Doug Young F Brooklyn eatery La Superior owner Iris Avelar and Jaime are members of "Mex and the City," an arts movement dedicated to cel- ebrating Mexican culture . . . and agave. 98 / the tasting panel / november 2012 resh from his trip to the Moscow Bar Show, Jaime Salas, William Grant & Sons' Brand Ambassador for Milagro, is very high on Russia, a new market for the young tequila brand. Where some people see challenges—language and culture barri- ers, a Russian penchant for European luxury brands—Salas sees opportunity to demonstrate that tequila carries the same history and prestige as other fine spirits. "It's right up there with some of the finest whiskies and gins of the world, and it deserves the same time and effort," he said, meeting THE TASTING PANEL in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Traveling for the first time on an international launch, Jaime says he is, in fact, "stoked" to acquaint Russian consumers and trade with not only the brand, but also a sense of its place in the food and beverage world. "It was really interesting to take something that is foreign to them and demonstrate how tequila works well in a marriage of flavors they already know," he explains. "Tequila has been building and coming into the cocktail renaissance, but now for the first time, it's intersecting with the foodie movement, and people want to take the next step and ask 'How does this go with my food?'" Salas began his educational tour in Moscow and Kiev by broadening the palate definition of tequila, working with the local ingredients he found—apple jams, berries, herbs—and marrying them to Milagro's profile, which he calls fresh, green, herbaceous and, at times, fruity. "This is a way to get them to understand what you can do with tequila. In the trade, we talk about that, but a lot of us can't break out from behind the Margarita." But as Russia's hip cities are evolving from drinking cultures to mixologist-driven cultures, Salas says there's more curiosity about ingredients, methods, authenticity and even concepts like terroir. And that supports his message: Tequila is about craftsmanship— from how plants are cultivated to the way the spirit is aged. "I want people to have an appreciation for a spirit that is not only huge in history but is truly a labor of love," says Jaime.

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