More than any other major US city, Miami could best be described as ‘the little engine that could,’ in terms of its mega-watt growth over the last few decades. No doubt this is due in large part to the trailblazing entrepreneurs and visionaries who set their sights on the heart of the Magic City. One such visionary would be none other than Miami native Alexa Iacovelli, who is set to launch her new ‘Encantadora’ brand of Mexican Spirits on February 8th, 2020.
Thanks to Iacovelli’s impeccable stewardship, the ultra-premium tequilas and mezcals promise to break the mold of what you ever thought tequila or mezcal could do, with the company’s perfectly balanced focus on authenticity and innovation. A highly visible figure within the community, Iacovelli wears several hats: socialite, philanthropist, entrepreneur and world traveler. But her latest venture speaks to an impulse dear to her heart and roots—namely, to initiate changes that help bring about a vibrant new face to Miami. For this reason, Iacovelli will be proudly rolling out the brand in her hometown before taking on other nightlife hubs such as New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas. With Iacovelli’s high standards and pioneering stance as a female owner of a spirits brand, we are sure that Encantadora will stand up to every evocation of its name.
Alexa welcomed us to her home for a tasting and a chat about her new line of Spirits.
How did your passion for tequila/mezcal begin?
I was traveling and pretty passionate about gin when we ran out on a long trip to Mexico. The only option for the remainder of the trip was tequila or sobriety, so I gave it a shot; no pun intended. My friends started serving it to me with a lot of soda to dilute it and I realized that I actually loved the intricate flavor profile, it was just masked by my previous perceptions and the strong burn associated with taking a shot. After a few days, it was like drinking water, and I slowly started decreasing the amount of soda as my palate became accustomed to the taste, now I only drink it on the rocks.
After that trip I was obsessed, and only drank tequila after that, up until about a year ago when I got into mezcal. Today, Mezcal is my drink of choice and that came as a progression from my appreciation for good tequila.
What makes you pursue business in Mexican Spirits?
Outside of my passion and appreciation for Mexican spirits, as that is the number one reason I got into this, as a consumer, I recognize the rapidity with which the categories are growing and evolving. It’s a great business with a lot of potential in Europe and Asia, and it is an incredibly exciting business to be a part of.
As a business owner, what is the most important aspect of creating a company for you?
For me, the most important part of this journey has been the development of the product and the ability to start from the ground up and learn every aspect of the industry. While branding and marketing are such a huge focus in this industry, that will only get you to buy a product once. If you don’t like it, you won’t buy it again. Quality is the absolute most important aspect of this business in my perspective. Throughout the development process I always reminded myself at every step, “this is the last tequila and mezcal you’re ever going to drink, you can’t be caught drinking the competition”. If it wasn’t the best, and there was anything lacking, I would have abandoned the project. Obviously, included in the importance of quality is not just taste, it is also the health factor, I wouldn’t allow it to be adulterated or artificial like a lot of the competition. I knew I wouldn’t be able to drink it if I knew there was something artificial about it.
As a woman in the spirit business, do you think you have had more challenges?
t’s no secret that the spirits industry has been predominantly male-driven to date, but I would be lying if I said that I had found pitfalls in that capacity throughout my journey. The truth is that the men and women with whom I have had the pleasure of working with have been supportive and uplifting since the get-go. And in today’s day and age, I think women-run businesses are thriving more than they ever have. I am so proud to be a woman in the spirits industry, now.
What has been the most challenging experience you have had starting Encantadora?
Seeing the brand come to life and trying the product for the first time. I remember being scared the first time I tried the finished product during bottling. I was terrified as lab tests in small batches can never compare to the actual distillation/fermentation/filtration process, and in mezcal, every batch is subject to a lot of change. It was such an amazing experience to try the six finished products one by one, and feel the excitement build as each one turned out to be even better than my greatest expectations. Watching the reaction of the wise men and women in the beverage industry has also been very rewarding—it has been the nod to a lot of hard work that fuels my fire to keep moving forward.
How is Encantadora different from mass-market Tequila/mezcal? What makes your spirits so authentic and innovative?
Innovation and authenticity are the cornerstones of Encantadora. We are based completely on the premise of providing unique products of great quality. The products we have created do not exist, the process we use is patent-pending and artisanal, I don’t think there is another company in this space doing as much as we are as far as innovation and authenticity are concerned.
How would you describe the Encantadora spirits consumer?
We think there is something in our range for everyone in the sense that the products can be enjoyed by those just starting to explore their love of tequila and mezcal but also for those with a refined palate who know what to look for in a product of quality. I love that I can be the brand that makes you fall in love with Mexican Spirits and the brand that makes you stay in love. We always aim to enchant. But while our products can, and do, appeal to a vast range of consumers, I think our main consumer is avant-garde, the type of person who wants to be ahead of the trends and always looking for the boutique brand with the coolest and most high-quality products; that is who I was before Encantadora.
How would you describe yourself and how do you identify with the brand?
Encantadora is the physical representation of some years of working to create a line of ultra-premium and innovative products in the agave-based spirits space. The way that I feel I am most reflected in the brand is that I wanted to make sure that the flavor profiles that I have come to appreciate in tequila and mezcal were accurately expressed. I’m proud to say that I think I was able to develop just that in these six products. I would definitely describe myself as discerning when it comes to what I like to drink and so far the feedback reflects that I was able to achieve that quality.
Right now, we know Tequila production is breaking records due to the increase of demand, how do you intend to scale Encantadora?
You would be surprised how hard it is to find good tequila, or any mezcal, in Europe. I spend a lot of time overseas, and that fact that I could never find what I liked, and was constantly checking bags filled with tequila and mezcal, is one of the reasons I started the company in the first place. In the US there is plenty of room to grow in mezcal, and in Europe and Asia the possibilities are currently endless. That’s not even to mention that we will also be introducing a sotol product soon, which is a tiny category currently, but I think will be the next big thing after mezcal. We know there’s only going up for Encantadora from here on out and that makes me proud and excited about the possibilities for the future.
How meaningful is it for you personally to be part of the Women of the vine and spirits?
Women of the Vine and Spirits is a wonderful organization that offers great tools and support in the industry. Being part of this network is an honor for sure, especially as a majority owner of a brand where there are so few.
What would be your advice for someone who wants to start out with the production of spirits?
I would say that you need to have the bandwidth to wear all the hats. You need to learn every aspect of the business, from production to legal, and you can’t trust anyone else to do it for you. You need to produce a product that is the end-all for you, if you can’t say you are happy to only drink that and never any competitors product, then the product isn’t good enough. You need to be incredibly passionate, there’s a lot of barriers, and if you don’t have the fire in your soul pushing you to break the barriers down you won’t make it. Trust your gut and stay the course of what it is that you set out to accomplish, but also to lend a careful ear to the artisans who have been crafting quality spirits for generations. They have so much to share and the history is inspiring.
Where can we find Encantadora here in Miami?
We are at some of the top restaurant accounts in Miami and are very proud to be there. From Novikov to Casa Tua, Cipriani, Juvia, Sushi Garage, Naiyara, Doma, Le Chick, 1-800-Lucky and many more. We have a link on our website https://encantadora.com/location where you can see all of our locations. You can also purchase at A5 Liquors, Vintage Liquor, and Gulf Liquor, or online through our website https://encantadora.com .