- interview by Sara Gorelick
Sara had the opportunity to speak with Marco Cedano, a Tequila veteran who currently serves as the Founder and Master Distiller for Tequila Tromba. With nearly 40 years of experience working in Tequila, Marco is an industry luminary who has seen first-hand the progression of the spirit over the last few decades.
SG: Why did you decide to go into the Tequila business?
MC: It was really my first opportunity after university, but right from the start I developed a passion for tequila that goes beyond the business of tequila. A big part was to share my passion with others and show people what a great tequila drinking experience can be.
SG: If you were one of the first distillers to produce 100% blue agave, what was the Tequila situation like before you?
MC: The category was nearly exclusively made up of mixto tequila, which was a mix of agave sugars and other sugars like cane sugar, starch sugar, and many more. It was also a very harsh and cheap spirit. Our work exploring the idea of 100% agave, or premium Tequila, really opened up different possibilities for the category.
SG: What makes Tromba stand out?
MC: Tromba is my legacy and my stamp. It's a chance for me to make a Tequila that I love. We planned a perfect design of the process before we started production. It was important to clean the equipment, pipes, floors and everything that have had contact with our material resources, agave and mostos and distillates. We are very strict in terms of having everything perfectly clean in order to avoid any participation of any microorganism or yeast out of our control; this way we will preserve the aromas and flavors from our process. There are also many other factors that makes Tromba stand out, including the total control of the production, our own supervision team, the time we enjoy talking with the labor force about our work system, the longtime relationship we have had with the owner, the confidence between the parties and my unconditional technical support for them along with my son. And last but not least, hunting the highlands for the best cultivated agave!
SG: Does its name mean anything?
MC: The name literally means 'big rain.' It's a slang term we use in Los Altos to describe the first rainstorms of the wet season that arrive to cleanse the agave fields. We need these to come every year.
SG: Why is now the right time for Tromba?
MC: I believe people are now returning to real concepts in food and beverage. They look for authenticity, and Tromba has that distinction of true concepts, passion and personal care in its making. There is no jargon in this brand - it's my production methods cultivated over 40 years.
SG: What is your favorite way to enjoy Tequila?
MC: I love the versatility of our tequila. Working with bartenders all over the world over the years, I have discovered many amazing cocktails and ways to enjoy our Tequila.
SG: Do you have a favorite marque (i.e. Blanco, Repo, Anejo)?
MC: I've always believed that to make fantastic Tequila, in all its expressions, you have to start by making the best possible Blanco you can. If you have that as your base you are going to end up with fantastic Reposado, Anejo and Extra Anejo varieties. So if I had to pick, I would say Blanco - that's where it all begins.
SG: What have you seen evolve the most in your 25 years in Tequila-making?
MC: The volume growth in the global market has led to the participation of multi-national companies and now the industry is big business. The big boys participation has opened the path for new production methods, which are more efficient but in my opinion can sacrifice what true Tequila is. They are cooking for yield and not for taste. But on the positive side, their participation has increased some of the technical systems available to the industry, and has led to an introduction of improved equipment.
SG: What do you predict for Tequila's future?
MC: The Tequila category has been increasing its consumption at a global level for the last 20 to 30 years, only looks to be getting stronger. The growth is being fueled by a substitution from lower quality mixtos to high quality 100% agave Tequilas. In my opinion this trend will continue, because unlike other categories of spirits, the difference in flavor and the drinking experience in Tequila is dramatically different between poor and high quality Tequila. People are now becoming more tuned into the stories behind spirits brands, and the Tequila industry has many great stories to tell. As the industry learns to better tell these stories drinkers will continue to come to the category. My son Rodrigo and I are in the process of developing a Tequila research institute which will help improve the knowledge in the industry. It will provide the industry and visitors a chance to discuss and research improvements in Tequila and the sustainable development of the industry.
SG: Outside of agave-based spirits, what is your drink of choice?
MC: I enjoy a glass of red wine from time to time. Similar to agave spirits I find it interesting to try different wines from different regions and explore the terroir of each.
SG: What do you like to do in down-time?
MC: Outside of the Tequila world, I think that I'm happiest at my strawberry farm!