SaloonBox Behind The Scenes: DeLeón tequila
Our August cocktail kit featured the ultra premium DeLeón tequila. The brand is a joint venture between Diageo, the largest spirits company in the world, and entertainment and business mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs. We spoke with Andrea Sengara who serves as Senior Vice President of Marketing for Combs Enterprises to learn more about the brand and what makes it so special.
How many years have you been working in the spirit industry and what first attracted you to this space?
I’ve spent the last 16 years working in the spirits industry developing consumer and customer strategies, plans and programs for numerous categories - working with some of the most interesting people, and brands, in the world across vodka, whiskey, rum, liqueurs and tequila. The experience has been incredibly rewarding. I am fortunate to be able to wake up every day and help people celebrate in a truly memorable way!
What intrigues you the most about DeLeón? What sets it apart from other tequilas on the market?
I’m no stranger to the Tequila business as I have been working in the category for the past seven years across various different brands. DeLeón is truly special. It is a provocative ultra-premium tequila that defies the conventions of the category to establish a new standard in tequila. DeLeón spares no expense in the process by which it creates its exceptional tequila.
Our maestro tequilero, Miguel Cedeño Cruz, has improved the traditional tequila-making method to achieve a smoother, sweeter tequila that is still rich with nuance and complexity. Each of the eight steps of the production process is taken to the next level in order to achieve the highest quality possible. Consumers today are embracing super and ultra-premium tequila, and the exceptional new DeLeón Tequila line is finding an expanded audience of adorers.
What do you wish people knew about DeLeón tequila that they might not easily find out?
DeLeón Tequila blends the art of tequila with the mastery of fine French wine making. We not only age our tequilas in traditional American oak bourbon barrels, but also rest them in fine French wine casks that impart a distinctive, balanced character. We hand-select our agave for the highest quality and peak ripeness, yielding the sweetest piñas giving the tequila its abundant character and balance.
Another key to DeLeón Tequila’s exceptional smoothness is that we do just two distillations – allowing the tequila to retain its rich character; yet we are one of the only tequilas to do chill filtration which removes any excess impurities and sugars. All of these techniques ensure the smooth, balanced and complex character found in DeLeón Tequilas.
We’ve seen that Sean Combs is involved with the brand. How so and how has it influenced DeLeón?
Sean “Diddy” Combs is a joint venture partner and plays a key role in establishing the vision for DeLeón Tequila as co-owner. Combs’ attitude and lifestyle have had a heavy influence on the brand. He is a constant reinforcement of the importance of disrupting the status quo and pushing boundaries to redefine the future. The brand takes its cue from him on how we look, how we show up and how we engage. Mr. Combs has been heavily involved in the brand planning and the broadening of the product line from day one, traveling to Mexico to meet the team and tour the facilities.
What are some challenges you face in your current role? And are there any surprises on the job?
Every day is a challenge and an opportunity to do something new or be more innovative and disruptive than the day before. Sometimes I believe in an opportunity that others cannot clearly see because it challenges traditional spirit norms and how we “have done things” in the past. It is up to me and my team to show others that there may be a more compelling and impactful way to do something.
The DeLeón bottle is very unique – is there a story behind it?
DeLeón is all about taking the tequila experience to the next level, including the package you receive it in. The bottle, a stunning bespoke square bottle made from highest-quality fragrance-grade glass, is a blend of Mexican heritage and modern sophistication. A bold embossed “D” is tattooed to the front bringing to the forefront the brand's striking and provocative presence.
Any new trends you’ve seen lately with tequila cocktails?
Tequila continues to become more about education and exploration. People are discovering that tequila can be an appreciated, fine spirit. They want to know what they are drinking and where it comes from. They want to understand the process and try various options. It's exciting to see consumers starting to venture out from “Blanco”, which represents the majority of tequila volume in the US, into the aged variants of Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo.
One of the most popular ways for consumers to immerse themselves into the tequila space is through discovery flights at restaurants, bars and lounges.
What has been one of the most exciting moments for the brand?
When Sean “Diddy” Combs joined Billboard on a multi city tour to announce the creation of the DeLeón 100. The DeLeón 100 was a special project that identified 100 trailblazers across the country who truly embodied the essence of this brand. This was exciting because it was much bigger than a campaign- it became a movement. We were able to give a voice to the silent heroes that are taking their city and culture to #TheNextLevel. We recognized them and asked them to pay it forward by identifying the next generation of up and comers that deserve to be celebrated.
What's your vision for the future of the company?
I believe DeLeón Tequila will become the go-to brand for consumers that are looking for a quality, high-end tequila to enjoy with friends. On a personal note, I hope who we are as a brand continues to inspire people to challenge the norm, be bold, create their own path to success, and break new ground. Sean Combs has done it repeatedly with his endeavors – we hope to inspire others to rewrite the rules in the pursuit of defying history.
Last but not least, what's your favorite way to drink DeLeón?
Simple and Clean – on the rocks with a twist of lime and a splash of soda