Not long after former Deep Eddy Vodka executives purchased Dulce Vida Tequila, the Austin-based tequila company is already launching two new lines of tequila — including one that will introduce two flavored spirits.
Dulce Vida, which made waves in the tequila industry by producing all-organic, 100-proof tequilas, is releasing a blanco, reposado and añejo at a lower 80 proof, to invite a wider range of drinkers to the organic products. But most notably, Dulce Vida now has two fruit-infused blanco tequilas as well: one made with lime, the other with grapefruit, two of the most common flavors in tequila cocktails.
Flavored tequila has never taken off as a spirits category before, but Milestone Brands’ CEO Eric Dopkins — whose newly formed spirits company scooped up Dulce Vida in the spring, followed by Tennessee’s American Born Moonshine — aims to change that. He and business partner Chad Auler, also formerly of Deep Eddy and now Milestone’s president, believe they know what consumers want.
“Obviously, with our experience at Deep Eddy using real fruit and doing things differently, our mission was to reinvent flavored spirits,” Dopkins said. “We feel that can also be applied to other categories, not just vodka… This is really a breakthrough, a disrupter. As cocktail-ready tequila, it’s very good straight, good on the rocks, good with simple mixers. ”
He and Dulce Vida are very clear that the lime and grapefruit-infused tequilas follow the strict guidelines the Mexican government has laid out dictating what tequila can be. Even with the fruity additions, both are still considered tequila, “not a prepared cocktail or a liqueur,” Dopkins said.
And they are also, as a result of Mexico’s regulations, surprisingly low-calorie.
“Tequila is so regulated that you can’t just add whatever ingredients you want,” he said. “They limit you with sugar content and what you can put in it to still call it tequila. Because of that, there are not a lot of additives here. The net result is a lower carb, lower calorie tequila: 66 calories. That’s lower than a Michelob Ultra.”
The decreased amount of sugar in the Dulce Vida Lime and Dulce Vida Grapefruit is only a boon to the taste because the tequilas incorporate both of the fruity flavors without being overly sweet. They also maintain the flavor of Dulce Vida’s Los Altos highlands agave, slightly floral and fruity itself, that complements lime and grapefruit so well in margaritas and palomas.
Those two cocktails are the main reasons that Dopkins and Auler, in charge of the product development, chose lime and grapefruit to start with. (They’ve got another flavor in the works but aren’t ready to reveal it yet.)
“Not too often can you drink tequila straight out of the bottle and get that balance,” Dopkins said. “Usually you’re going to get that pucker, that harshness. Here, you’re getting a nice balance, fruit in the front, and a nice finish. That’s part of our whole concept, to break people into the tequila category and show consumers you can have fruit-infused tequila. It can really change how you drink tequila.”
The other new line of Dulce Vida Tequila, at 80 proof, is similarly important to the brand. But for fans of the original 100-proof options, don’t worry — those aren’t going away. The 80-proof tequilas are meant to supplement the existing ones, drawing in more tequila converts. They are also cheaper.
“That’s our whole mission, to make the brand much more affordable and approachable. We think we’re over-delivering on quality,” Dopkins said.
He and Auler sold Deep Eddy Vodka last year to Kentucky’s Heaven Hill brands for an undisclosed sum. As the fastest growing spirits brand in the country, Deep Eddy has proven the entrepreneurs’ capability — they know how to strike liquid gold.