spirits explained

Emilia Fazzalari, Co-Founder and CEO of Cincoro Tequila

Miranda Hodge, ReserveBar Staff Writer
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A fun night out with friends set the stage for conversations about crafting a tequila that perfectly embodies the celebration of agave and friendship. Moving from a previous role in finance, Emilia Fazzalari, Co-Founder and CEO of Cincoro Tequila, proves that award-winning tequila is more than just placing a label on a bottle — passion and a focus on excellence play key parts. We sat down with Emilia to learn more about how she co-founded one of the most celebrated agave spirits in the world, how to best savor the moment, and where her brand is headed next.

How did you get started with the brand or spirit? How did this evolve into your current role?

I was an executive in the financial sector for 25 plus years, concentrating on the energy markets. Professionally, I have always been very driven. While my time in finance was satisfying, let’s face it, tequila is a lot more fun! I work just as hard as I ever did, and the experience has been personally rewarding. That said, the beverage alcohol business is highly competitive and challenging. That’s what makes it all the sweeter to hear people say that Cincoro is delicious.

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My work experience included starting and running several new lines of business, which prepared me for my role as CEO of our startup. During my 23 years at Bloomberg LP, I was fortunate enough to have many inspiring mentors that aided my professional growth. I learned that great companies are built by great people. The team of people you work with at the company and the people you deal with outside of the company.

The essence of Cincoro started with the bond that was formed between the five founders. When you find a connection like that, you know that if you add hard work, creativity, and a lot of drive, it will lead to something great. We met as friends over tequila, and as the friendship grew, so did our realization that we all loved the idea of making our own tequila just exactly the way we envisioned it.

It’s very gratifying to share Cincoro with friends and see their faces as they taste it for the first time. It’s also rewarding to think of the gold medals we have won and of all the people enjoying it across the USA and soon overseas.

How did your friendship with the 5 founders evolve into the creation of Cincoro?

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My partners, Jeanie Buss, Wes Edens, Michael Jordan and Wyc Grousbeck, who represent four NBA rivals (respectively, the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets, and Boston Celtics), had some fun evenings drinking tequila in Manhattan in 2016. During one of these dinners, we decided that we would create our own tequilas with a very specific approachable taste profile. We partnered with a highly respected and honored distillery in Mexico, where the family has been in place for three generations. After three years of work, we had our four expressions, all totally unique and delicious and like nothing else we had found. It reflects exactly what we wanted. To this day, Michael and I taste-test every batch we create to ensure our quality and consistency.

The five of us love doing things the right way. We took that approach when we created a family of amazingly smooth and delicious tequilas that we enjoy sipping and sharing with friends. It took us a while as we weren’t willing to settle until we got the taste profile just right. We created about 1,000 brand new tequilas before we landed on what became our award-winning Cincoro.

The 100% Weber Blue agave we use is hand-selected from both the highland and lowlands of Jalisco, Mexico. It’s then slow cooked in two separate cooking methods and distilled in small batches, which gives us two distinct distillates before our master blender combines them. The result is an ultra-smooth Cincoro Blanco, which is then aged in select oak barrels, creating naturally rich Cincoro Reposado, Anejo and Extra Anejo tequilas. All perfect for sipping.

The Cincoro bottle is stunning. Can you share more details about the design?

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The Cincoro bottle tells a story all on its own. Pretty much every detail about the bottle references something about us as a group of friends, Michael’s career, and the beauty of the agave plant. It was designed by Michael’s longtime collaborator, Nike’s former Vice President of Innovation and Special Projects, Mark Smith.

He worked with an artisanal Mexican glassmaker for over a year to create a sleek and contemporary bottle, unlike any other brand, and one that spoke to the collaboration between us. The five sides represent the five founders, and the several 23-degree angles are a homage to Michael’s jersey number. The “Share Truth” statement emblazoned on the neck expresses our belief in being authentic and chilling and enjoying the moment. We want Cincoro to be the ultimate trophy shared or gifted to friends and family. Even the name means something: It’s an amalgam of “five and gold” in Spanish as the group set out to create the gold standard.

How do you look at the spirits industry differently?

Being a successful entrepreneur has a lot to do with having experience, being willful and having a laser focus on execution. Developing and marketing a brand is so much more than just filling a beautiful bottle with liquid. It’s considerably more nuanced. I have a real appreciation for the hard work that goes into every stage of bringing a tequila brand to market.

I have a great team supporting me at Cincoro. I’ve hired industry veterans who provide decades of insight and experience, but it’s my ultimate vision for making Cincoro the world’s best-selling and tasting tequila that is my North Star. As we enter our third year, we’re growing rapidly. Cincoro is distributed nationally across the United States, and we’re expanding internationally. We’ve been recognized with some of the highest awards in the industry, including Double Gold for our Blanco and Reposado at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

For someone new to your tequilas, where do you recommend they start?

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Tequila is no longer just for margaritas. Of course, there is a time and place for a good Blanco margarita, and we have some great cocktail recipes. I feel a tequila like Cincoro is meant to be sipped and savored and, of course, shared with friends. Personally, I enjoy our aged expressions. Cincoro Reposado is aged 8-10 months in select oak barrels. There are amazing notes of vanilla, baking spices, and toasted oak. On the palate, you taste sweet, cooked agave, caramel, and white chocolate. Añejo is our signature expression. It’s aged 24-28 months, which is considerably longer than the one-year minimum required to be called Añejo. Cincoro Añejo has a remarkably long, elegant finish with lingering notes of dark chocolate.

I encourage people to taste the traditional way, sipping our Blanco first, followed by Reposado, Añejo, and then Extra Añejo. But my husband Wyc insists that people start right in with the Añejo because it's completely delicious, and if you are ever hanging out with Michael Jordan, you will start right in with the Extra Añejo, with a large rock and a slice of orange.

In fact, all five of us prefer to drink our expressions on the rocks with an orange slice — we call it “The Founder’s Way.” For special occasions, we celebrate with the Extra Añejo.

Are there any closing thoughts before you go?

Cincoro is meant to be sipped, savored and shared. When you taste Cincoro, you will be experiencing what we personally think is the ultimate high-end spirit. Cincoro is a passion for us, and we hope you love it as much as we do because we took our time and did not rest until we got the taste to be simply delicious!

We want to thank everyone who has tried Cincoro and has shared it with their friends and family. If you haven’t tried it yet — please do and send us a note with your reaction at [email protected] We love hearing from you all.