SaloonBox Behind The Scenes: Jenna Fagnan, President at Tequila Avion
Our August kit features Tequila Avion. We were incredibly fortunate to spend some time with Jenna Fagnan who shared her impressive background and provided insights as to what makes Tequila Avion so special. She also shares her tips for buying and consuming this delicious spirit.
How did you come to work with Avion? Can you tell us a bit about your background and what you were you doing before?
I was working at LVMH running Sales and Marketing for North America for Tag Heuer and a mutual friend introduced me to our founder, Ken Austin, who was spending time in Mexico working with a wonderful family developing a very special tequila. I never thought I would leave my job to do something entrepreneurial, but I was intrigued and after speaking with Ken from time to time throughout the years he spent on his journey creating Avion down in Mexico, I quit my job to help him start Avion.
Previous to that, I ran Dom Perignon for LVMH and had worked in the restaurant industry in addition to working for Wieden + Kennedy and NIKE.
What intrigued you about Avion from the start?
I was intrigued by the art of the creation of it. It wasn’t about efficiency or trying to produce as cheaply as possible, it was an incredibly inefficient process that most sane individuals would never have chosen to create as it requires up to 30% more agave to make Avion and much more time. However, this inefficient process is why Avion is able to showcase the incredible natural rich agave flavor of the Avion agave.
I was also very intrigued by the close collaboration between our founder, Ken Austin and the Lopez family, who have been in Jesus Maria for generations. Together they insist on lack of automation to employ people in the local town and using only single source sustainably grown agave for Avion, which is rare.
What are some challenges you face currently? And are there any surprises on the job?
The challenges are a very quickly growing tequila category, however that is a great asset as well. More attention is on the category and thus both bartenders and consumers are enjoying tequila more often.
What’s your opinion of the current tequila market? What sets Avion apart?
The tequila market is a great place to be. The growth in the category is incredible and that will continue. Avion is in a unique position as its foundation lies in real values, real agave and real people. Our team in Mexico and in the US pride ourselves on the unique process and the attention to details that make it stand out. Avion also does not use additives and is all natural, that is an important differentiator as well.
What are the markers of excellence in tequila that people can look out for on their own when choosing a brand?
It is important to obviously look for tequila that says “100% Blue Weber Agave” so that you know you are not buying mixto tequila. But you should also look for a tequila that is made in batches where the color varies batch by batch. Then you know you are dealing with a tequila that does not add caramel color or additives and they are making small batch tequila. Each bottle of Avion has the batch and bottle number hand written on the neck label.
Any new trends you’ve seen lately with tequila cocktails?
One of the trends I have really enjoyed is seeing bartenders use Añejo tequila in place of more traditional brown spirits for certain cocktails. For example, an Añejo Tequila Old Fashioned is hard to beat. The flavors complement each other in rich and surprising ways.
What has been one of the most exciting moments for your brand?
One of the most memorable moments for us is when we found out we won Best Tasting Tequila in the World and Best Unaged White Spirit in the World at the San Francisco World’s Spirits competition. It was a defining moment as all of the hard work on creating Avion and paying attention to the details was recognized as Avion beat hundreds of brands in the most respected blind taste test competition.
What’s next at Avion? Any plans for new partnerships or products in the pipeline that you can talk about right now?
It is non-stop. We are still a small company and are very much grounded in our entrepreneurial values and those values of Ken and the Lopez family. Ken is always down at the distillery experimenting and trying different artistic approaches. There are some really exciting things he is working on but unfortunately I can’t talk about them yet!
What's your vision for the future of the company?
Our vision is to share our love of tequila and just how delicious it can be when it tastes like fresh roasted agave, while continuing to support the wonderful town of Jesus Maria where it all happens.
What's your favorite way to drink Avion?
I love the amazing cocktails that I taste around the country and the fresh locally sourced ingredients so many establishments are using today. However, my old fall back is simply Avion Reposado with a splash of sparkling water. Delicious and refreshing and the Avion fresh roasted agave flavor comes through.