Three guys who created a 32-time award-winning tequila company, all before turning 30? We’ll ‘cheers’ to that. Enemigo Tequila has well and truly made a big impression on the New York City, East End, and LA crowds in the know. CEO and founder Robin Clough pours one out for The Daily and gives us the low down on everything we need to know about what is fast becoming the most celebrated tequila in the world.
What’s a fun fact that might surprise us about tequila?
Tequila is as controlled and protected as Champagne: it can only be created using one specific species of Agave—Blue Weber Agave—and it can only be produced in certain regions within Mexico. Our distillery is in the actual town of Tequila, so our Tequilas are produced in the land where the incredible spirit was actually created.
You began working on Enemigo back in 2013 when you were in your early 20s. What do you know now that you wish you knew back then?
It has been a wonderful six year run so far—and long may it continue! We could probably write a series of books on what we have learned so far. We built Enemigo using our naivety and fundamentally being the unknowns, which I think in hindsight actually gave us an advantage. We came in with a completely fresh perspective, focused from start to finish on quality; making tequila into the celebration it deserves, almost to a fault. But that is what Enemigo is now known for, unrivaled quality and being the go-to for any celebration. The decisions we might go back and change are the ones where we tried to follow expectations of others.
As a luxury tequila, Enemigo has many USPs. Which one are you most proud to tell people about?
There are many, but it would have to be our award wins, or our growing list of world-renowned restaurants, bars, and retailers. Since our official launch in 2017, our tequilas have won more Double Gold awards and Tequila of the Year awards than any other tequila within that time. We now have an incredible list of locations, from Michelin starred restaurants, world’s best bars, and globally-recognized retailers where you will find our bottles, and the list grows each day.
Where did the inspiration for your distinctive logo come from?
The reason we started Enemigo was that we were exposed to what actual tequila tastes like: nothing like what was available on the market back when we started. It was elegant, sophisticated, and refined, and so we decided that we wanted to show the world how incredible this spirit actually was. We felt like a secret movement, focusing solely on the quality of what was in the glass so even from that first sip it would blow everyone’s mind, just like it did ours, and become the spirit to celebrate the most special occasions. Our logo has a secret society vibe to it, as a tribute to our now not-so-secret push to change the perceptions of tequila. We also wanted to include a triangle as a celebration of the three founders, myself, Max, and Sebastian. While the first batch of our tequilas aged in their barrels, we were based in three different countries—U.S., Europe, and Mexico, respectively—which would go on to become our three core markets.
If you had to create a dating profile for Enemigo, what would the bio say?
Hmm, that’s tricky! I think Enemigo would be quite a mischievous character, but one that always exceeds expectations and is in their element when celebrating.
What made you decide to bring your brand to New York City, California, and the Hamptons?
Since our launch in London in 2017, our tequilas started and continued to win in blind-taste competitions across the world. Early in 2018, word of mouth really started to spread about our tequilas, and we were receiving overwhelming demand from the U.S. We knew we had to move quickly and managed to launch in NYC later that year. The Hamptons was another big step for the brand, and we really left a mark Out East in the summer of 2019. California was always going to be next on the list, but due to the success we had in NYC and the Hamptons, we had to move up the timing and go to the West Coast at the end of 2019. As demand continues to grow, we are incredibly excited to finally deliver to the consumers who have been requesting us all over the world—we just launched in Portugal last week!
How is it performing Stateside?
It is going incredibly well. We feel very lucky to be in the position we are in, and even more so after signing a national deal with Trinity Beverage Group and Verity Wines in September. We will be launching at the national level over the coming months and we couldn’t be more excited to bring our focus on quality and celebration to the rest of the U.S.
For any newcomers to the Enemigo tequila fan club, what do we need to know about Anejo Cristalino versus Extra Anejo?
Great question! Our two expressions are rarer in the tequila world than the typical blanco and reposados of most other brands. We chose them as we feel they are the best demonstration of how elegant and sophisticated tequila can and should be. Our Anejo Cristalino is a rare clear anejo. It is aged for one year in our custom-made New American oak barrels, and then uniquely filtered, which removes most of the color and the stronger oaky notes typically found in an anejo. What this creates is an unrivaled, smooth liquid, with all the beautiful complexity from the aging process. It’s the perfect afternoon sipper from a flute, or in simple cocktails where the tequila can really shine through. We named this expression 89 as a testament to the 89 different recipes we tested and refined before arriving at our now award-winning tequila. Our Extra-Anejo was created to elevate tequila to be the perfect after-dinner serve. It is aged for just over three years in our New American oak barrels, and when removed from the barrel it is a dark amber color. It is remarkably complex, perfectly balanced, and incredibly memorable. The special moment is that it evolves in the glass like the finest of wines, which is an incredible experience to enjoy firsthand.
Tell us about your signature serving style—in a long-stemmed flute or with mineral water—is this how we’ve been supposed to enjoy tequila all along!?
Enemigo 89 Anejo Cristalino is so delicate and smooth that it deserves a long-stemmed flute to truly savor and enjoy it when sipping, this also makes it perfect for any celebration big or small. For a longer serve, add a dash of high quality sparkling mineral water, and a citrus garnish of your choice, it extends the notes of the tequila whilst also allowing you to have a little fun with the garnish… and that is what tequila should be about.
Why have you chosen to avoid traditional marketing and press?
We felt that some of the marketing tactics and standards used in the industry historically are what lead to tequila having a controversial reputation. We want the liquid to do the talking wherever possible, as we feel that is what tequila should be, a celebration of the liquid.
You’ve been friends with Max your whole life, right? Are your families friends?
Yes! Max and I were born days apart and our families have been friends for nearly 50 years. We always knew we wanted to build something together. I met Sebastian in California; he was the one who first showed me what tequila should be and we have been best friends ever since. Building a brand with two of your closest friends is a wonderful experience, especially when you can all enjoy your products and success together.
You’ll have to tell us… what’s your own preferred way to enjoy Enemigo?
I am constantly finding new ways to try and experiment, but for me, it has to be our Cristalino served in a long-stemmed flute or a large pour of Extra Anejo in a tumbler.
And lastly, what’s a party trick that you can perform better after you’ve sipped some Enemigo?
Ha! I think I perform pretty much everything better (that’s legal!), after I have sipped Enemigo, but maybe I am biased.