Airing between regular episodes of the VinePair Podcast, “Next Round” explores the ideas and innovations that are helping drinks businesses adapt in a time of unprecedented change. As the coronavirus crisis continues and new challenges arise, VP Pro is in your corner, supporting the drinks community for all the rounds to come. If you have a story or perspective to share, email us at [email protected].

In this “Next Round,” VinePair CEO and co-founder Adam Teeter speaks with LALO Tequila co-founders Jim McDermott, David Rodriguez, and Eduardo “Lalo” González, about starting a blanco-only tequila brand that emphasizes quality and simplicity. The brand is named in honor of González’s nickname “Lalo,” given to him by his grandfather, Don Julio.

According to Rodriguez, having prior experience working in brand strategy led him to approach González about producing a tequila brand that would highlight González’s family legacy. In a market flooded with tequila offerings and celebrity brands, Rodriguez and González felt it was important to produce a “pure” tequila, free of additives. The spirit is twice-distilled using no barrels or added flavor — embracing the natural flavor of agave.

After selling locally in Guadalajara, Mexico for five years, Rodriguez and González partnered with McDermott, who helped bring the brand to the U.S. The brand launched in Austin, Texas in September 2019.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, 85 percent of the company’s sales came from on-premise locations. When bars and restaurants began closing, the brand pivoted its strategy toward off-premise sales, approaching chain and independent retailers throughout the Central Texas area to reach consumers in liquor stores, as well as focusing on direct-to-consumer services like Drizly. As the brand grows, González, Rodriguez, and McDermott are working to expand LALO into new markets throughout the U.S.

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