However, producing and importing tequila was not their initial idea. Originally, the trio sought to bring Ponche de Granada into the United States, as their flagship brand. Ponche de Granada is a traditional pomegranate-based alcoholic beverage from Comala, in the Pacific Coast state of Colima, Mexico, where their family originates. Except the Magañas’ uncle, who was the guardian of the family’s special recipe for the Ponche, suffered a stroke, while his brother, upon winning the Mexican lottery became no longer interested in the idea of working together. At that time, the aforementioned two younger siblings Ed and Esteban realized it would make sense to move forward with a tequila project, instead of waiting around for different circumstances to launch the Ponche de Granada. This is how Tequila Corcel, a line of award-winning premium tequilas, was born.
The Corcel portfolio consists of Blanco, Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo. Tequilana Weber blue agaves from the Guadalajara region are harvested at seven years of age, cooked in autoclave ovens and triple distilled in stainless steel at Destileria Santa Lucia (NOM 1173), in Zapopan. The Reposado is aged in American oak barrels for six months, while the Añejo sees 16, and the Extra Añejo 36 months, respectively.
The Tres Lobos team had a clear vision of the profiles that they wanted. They tasted dozens of tequilas from different producers in Jalisco to find a recipe they liked. It had to be smooth, yet traditional. “We wanted to bring the recipe we had in our hearts to our friends and family, and to consumers from our generation,” says Esteban. “We were not solely interested in something for college students to take shots with in bars, and although we are not particularly targeting the younger demographic where often quantity is what matters most, but we want to also appeal to a more mature consumer that has a bit more of a sophisticated palate, and an authentic appreciation for a high-quality product. Their flagship tequila is the Corcel Blanco, of which they produced 8,000 cases for their premier shipment earlier this year. With its blueberry and strawberry notes, it mixes perfectly with fruity margaritas. Sales of Corcel Reposado have been very strong, and their super-premium Extra Añejo is one of the foremost products to hit the marketplace. The Tres Lobos team agrees that the tequilas are so smooth that it is almost a shame to mix them, preferring to sip them neat to appreciate their complex flavors. However, both the Reposado and Añejo work beautifully in handcrafted cocktails.
The excellent response from industry buyers and consumers alike has been a reward for all their hard work, setbacks, and heartache. At the 2018 Los Angeles International Spirits Awards, the Extra Añejo took the gold medal while the Blanco received a silver. The entire portfolio garnered medals at the SIP Awards in Newport Beach, which is the only internationally recognized consumer judging spirits competition. During the SIP Awards blind tasting, the 200 judges awarded Corcel Blanco and Extra Añejo with their platinum award, Reposado was awarded gold, and Añejo a double gold.
Tequila Corcel has also been well received by key accounts in Southern California. The goal for building distribution, was to start with a structured local rollout in SoCal and grow organically, little by little throughout the state. Marketing initiatives for the rollout include: collaborating with on/off premise accounts, conducting tastings, working with mixologists and engaging consumers in person, also via social media.
Within a short amount of time, Tequila Corcel has not only generated quite a lot of attention in California, but additionally from other parts of the country as well. “With such great interest in our brand, we are currently expanding Tequila Corcel into other key markets, such as Arizona, Illinois, and Texas, and we’ll focus our distribution efforts in the east, early next year,” says Ed.
Bringing this amazing Tequila Corcel portfolio to market was a labor of love, but not without issue. Ed Magaña’s original idea for the brand name was Los Potrillos, Spanish for colt, which was the perfect name to compliment the horse logo that they selected for their tequila line. In Mexican culture, the horse is an important symbol that highlights nobility, elegance, and pride. Unfortunately when their copyright attorney registered the name, he made a costly error, spelling portillos instead of potrillos. The following day, when they attempted to make the correction, a world famous tequila producer had simultaneously registered the name potrillos, with the correct spelling, and was therefore granted the trademark. Thankfully, a professor and family friend in Mexico City, Sergio Hernandez, suggested the word Corcel, which means steed; a highly-spirited horse, regal and distinguished. The name Corcel was better suited for the tequila portfolio, and most importantly, it was an available name for them to use. “The horse is important to the culture of Mexico,” says Dr. Esteban Magaria. “It is masculine, strong, powerful, and it screams Mexico!”
During one of their trips south of the border, a friend introduced the Tres Lobos partners to Don Carlos Padilla, a pioneer of the tequila industry in Mexico, whose family has been producing tequila for decades. “Don Carlos was instrumental in introducing us into the world of tequila,” says Ed. “I give him the credit for awakening the passion for the drink in us.” Although a partnership with Padilla did not pan out, another crucial piece of the puzzle came into place when he connected the team with Mexican attorney Lic. Luis Margain.
“We spent years doing what Margain worked out for us in two hours,” says Ed. “He told us who to talk to, what forms to submit, how to go about things, etc. That’s when our tequila venture was born. Meeting him changed our history.” Margain also connected them with Jose Carlos Landeta, a tequila consultant and all around expert in the field of tequila. Landeta has helped to develop more than 50 brands of wine and spirits such as tequila within his 15 years of experience in the industry, and would later become their business partner. Ultimately, Tres Lobos visited with Carlos Newton, owner of Destileria Santa Lucia, and sampled a few different profiles. “Although they were not exactly right, we clicked with them, and they were willing to work with us on finding the right recipe,” says Esteban. Santa Lucia has been in business for generations and has a varied portfolio of proprietary labels, and after numerous trips and many formulas, they had finally created exactly what they wanted. “We fell deeper in love with what we were doing,” says Ed. “It was one of those epiphanies! In a second we knew this was it. It was a perfect morning!”
If one could sum up a brand in three keywords; serendipity, passion, and tenacity come to mind when speaking of Tres Lobos LLC. , the company behind Tequila Corcel. Siblings Ed Magaña and Esteban Magaña, M.D., along with their friend and business partner Alex Carmona, originated this endeavor to share the rich culture of Mexico through several of its most iconic products, one being tequila.
The Magañas are focused on highlighting Corcel as a 100% Mexican product, and they are focused on perfection. Every part of the product is made in Mexico, honoring tradition. The labels, created by a designer from Guadalajara, are all distinctive, and sport a quilted look that pays homage to the high fashion house designer, Chanel. The bottles are copious, heavy, and almost indestructible. Esteban, an avid golfer, added a little token to the bottle caps; Bearing the elegant horse logo, the tops act like a coin that can be used for marking on the greens. “Golfers love that,” he says proudly.
Appreciate the kind words from tequila aficionados, we also appreciate those who are new to the category and want to learn. Our goal is to educate consumers and show them why a higher-quality drink, made the traditional way is also a healthier product.”
Ed concludes with, “Ultimately, we want to expand to other beverages and products that we can bring to market in order to showcase Mexico to the world.” This, of course, includes the Ponche de Granada. “We often forget how rich the culture of Mexico is — the food, diversity, the traditions, so much to put into words, but if you immerse yourself into all of it, it becomes a part of you.”
We wanted to bring the recipe we had in our hearts to our friends and family, and to consumers from our generation.