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Happy Hour with Jacob Gluck

The CEO of Atlanta-based Goza Tequila talks booze

Jacob Gluck does not look like your typical tequila magnate. In fact, he barely looks old enough to drink tequila, let alone be the founder and CEO of an Atlanta-based tequila brand (with the tequila being imported from Mexico). But the 27-year-old Sandy Springs native and his plucky little tequila company have started to make their mark on Atlanta bars, cocktail menus, and bottle shops. Goza Tequila — "Mexico grown, Atlanta's own!" the brand tweeted back in July — manages to embrace its Mexican lineage and its Southern origins with its line blanco tequila, a six-month-old reposado, and a one-year-old añejo. Out just since April 2015, Goza Tequila has found its way to restaurants such as King and Duke, JCT. Kitchen and Bar, and Cowtippers. The brand also has retail distribution in Georgia and parts of Tennessee. We caught up with Gluck to learn more about the tequila and how he got his start.

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What's your first tequila memory?

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In high school, I was at a huge party and a friend literally pinned me down and poured tequila down my throat. It was horrible.

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Margarita or paloma?

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Can I say tequila sunrise? I actually prefer drinking our tequila neat, especially for the añejo or reposado.

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So how did you stumble into the tequila business?

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A friend happened to connect me with a tequila producer in Mexico — Tequilera de Jalisco, the master distiller is named Armando Esparza — that was looking to get into the U.S. market. So it was a bit of luck. We met back in 2012, and in 2013 I committed to this full time and spent the next year creating the Goza brand and company from scratch, getting all the licenses, creating the bottle and artwork, everything else. We secured distribution in 2014, and were finally able to start getting our tequila over the border earlier this year after all kinds of red tape. Knowing it had finally made it was one of the best feelings of my life.

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Do you have a red tape horror story?

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Well, the most intense situation I can't even put on record. But working with the Mexican customs office in Laredo — we had a $20,000 tax bill to bring our bottles in to Mexico that would have basically shut us down. We had to go through all kinds of esoteric legal efforts, but finally got it down to $3,000 by getting some additional licenses to ... allow our bottles into Mexico.

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What's unique about the Atlanta market that makes it a good fit for a new tequila brand?

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First, it's the people. Plus, the city is not too big and not too small, and incredibly diverse. It seemed to offer the best chance for success. And, having our offices in a shared workspace (DeskHub) has helped us get in with the vibrant startup and technology scene here as well. Which is booming. We're working with Atlanta Tech Village on an event for later this year. It's a great fit for a tequila brand that's both local and craft, and a good grassroots way of sharing what we're about. We can't beat the big tequila brands at their own game, and starting local really works.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information regarding Gluck's first tequila memory.



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