Back to Basics: Brand Development

Back in the days before limited edition bottles ruled the earth, basic expressions of distilled spirits dominated the shelf space at your local retailer. If you were a tequila brand, you might have three different marks available at any given time: a blanco, a reposado, and an añejo. There were no such things as vintage tequilas, or single barrel tequilas, or extra añejo tequilas. When a brand did try to expand its repertoire, it was a very big deal (remember Crystal Pepsi?). The idea of making only 600 bottles of something was absurd! If you were going to launch a new product, you had to go all in (because there needed to be enough for everyone, ha!!). Of course, because of the risk involved, no brand would dare overextend its portfolio if the time wasn't right and the stars weren't aligned. A period of steady growth would need to precede any attempt at expansion.

Jake Lustig is an old-fashioned booze guy—a grizzled veteran of the distribution business. He's not one to stray from slow and steady growth, into the realm of limited edition, highly-allocated, gotta-have-it types of products—at least not under his ArteNOM label. Jake has worked his ass off building this brand over the past five years and he's done such a great job that—despite our efforts to do otherwise—almost all of the tequila we sell in Redwood City has an ArteNOM label on it. The stuff is just that good. Unlike other producers, however, who bottle the same juice at various ages, Jake took a page from the independent whisky scene and decided to sell different spirits from a variety of distilleries; offering customers a bold variance of flavors under one umbrella. After a few years of healthy growth and sustained quality, however, Jake was finally ready to expand the trio into a quartet. Behold: a new expression of ArteNOM! This is a big deal.

ArteNOM Seleccion 1549 Blanco Organico Tequila $44.99 - Finally! After years of moving between three different ArteNOM expressions, Jake Lustig is back to bring us a new tequila from an exciting distillery. Labeled as "blanco organico", the ArteNOM 1549 comes from Destiladora Refugio located in El Arenal (known as the entrance way to the blue agave region of Jalisco), just west of Guadalajara. One of the few distilleries using certified organic agave, Refugio's blanco spirit is one of the cleanest in the business. The nose is an explosive bouquet of pepper, citrus, salt, and sweet agave, with each flavor making itself completely known in equal amounts. The palate is medium-bodied and clean on the entry, before bursting with more pepper and citrus and ultimately finishing with flavors of roasted agave, tangy fruits, and baking spices.

When your favorite brand decides to add something new to its portfolio, it can be an angst-ridden experience for super brand fanboys like myself. What if the new stuff isn't as good as the old stuff? What if I don't like it as much as the other products? What if it's a total letdown? Will that lessen my exalted view of the brand itself? WILL THINGS EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN? AHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Luckily for us, Jake knocked this one out of the park. It's time to rejoice. We just went from three amazing ArteNOM tequilas to four, and—in typical, old school brand fashion—there's plenty of it for everyone. Now let's drink some fucking tequila!!!

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll