Espolòn Celebrates the Life of its Innovative Founder and Legendary Maestro Tequilero, Cirilo Oropeza
Tequila Espolòn Creator Passes On, Leaving a Legacy of Artistry and Invention
Guadalajara, Mexico Octubre 6 de 2020 – The Espolòn and Campari Group family remembers and celebrates the life of one of the most inventive global spirits industry legends. Espolòn Tequila creator and Maestro Tequilero Cirilo Oropeza passed away October 5 in presence of his family in his native Mexico. He was 80 years old. Cirilo Oropeza, the Maestro Tequilero behind Espolón Tequila was a true Mexican artist. While at the helm of Casa San Nicolas, Oropeza’s tequilas have won the praise of aficionados around the world, and garnered numerous awards including Double Gold Medals at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirit Competition and “Best Tequila” at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge.
With over 50 years of experience, Espolòn was the life-long aspiration of Cirilo. Combining a background in chemical engineering and decades of distilling experience, Cirilo perfected the science of distilling with the art of tequila making. With a revolutionary spirit, strict attention to detail and his renowned unconventional methods, he had one simple goal: to create a tequila so good he was proud to share it with the world.
Oropeza began his career in 1965 at the Ingenio Potrero Distillery in Veracruz, Mexico, where he was responsible for sugar cane quality control for the distillery’s rum. It was here that Oropeza’s passion for spirits began, when he took it upon himself to learn the rum production process from his manager after his long daily shifts were finished. Self-described as “intensely curious,” he was particularly fascinated by yeast – the natural organisms that turn sugar into alcohol. “I marveled at how such a small, delicate creature was the catalyst for creating the spirits I regularly enjoyed with my family and friends,” commented Oropeza. Four years later Oropeza became a supervisor at Oso Negro’s gin distillery in Tlaxcala, Mexico, and quickly rose to assume management of the gin and vodka distillation process. In this role, Oropeza pursued his quest to create the perfect yeast and to assume expertise in every facet.
In the 1990s, Oropeza was tapped to supervise the production of Jose Cuervo’s tequila distillation in Guadalajara, Mexico. During this time, Cirilo became acquainted with an agave supplier, who was drawn to Cirilo’s talent and steadfast commitment to quality distillation, and in 1995, his fellow entrepreneur asked him to join him in building a distillery and tequila brand in the Highlands. The project was the establishment of Casa San Nicolas and Espolón Tequila. Overseeing the design of the distillery, Oropeza’s goal was to create a production environment that supports a process that results in only the finest tequila.
In 1998, the very first bottles of Espolòn began shipping all over the world. Created using a combination of traditional and modern techniques, Espolòn has been hailed as a world-class, superior tequila, one that is currently one of the most successful and fastest-growing in the world – one of Cirilo’s crowning achievements. “I consider these tequilas my second sons and care for them as I would my own family,” Oropeza once remarked. Cirilo viewed his role as not just that of a distiller- but of a teacher. He is widely recognized by his peers for his passion and dedication to every step of his craft and the distilling process. Maestro Cirilo took such pride in this process, he even serenaded the yeast with classical music daily during the fermentation process, believing it helps the yeast activate thanks to the vibrations of the music’s sound waves. Cirilo’s legacy inspires us to continually experiment and try to make our tequila even better, studying it on a molecular level to understand the changes to the flavor profile each day during creation.
“Cirilo Oropeza was a true legend in the world of tequila and the spirits industry at large – unrivaled in his curiosity, passion and dedication to his lifelong dream, but above all he was a great man and a true Camparista, loved by his collaborators,” said Bob Kunze-Concewitz, CEO of Campari Group. “His contributions and unconventional methods undoubtedly changed the tequila category. As he perfected his craft, we joined him in his exuberance at watching Espolòn conquer the palates of connoisseurs around the world. He will be dearly missed, but his techniques will live on and inspire generations of tequileros to come. All Camparistas thoughts go to his family.”
Much of Cirilo’s personal time was spent primarily in Arandas, close to Casa San Nicolas, where he recalled that his favorite moments were, “surrounded by good friends who take just as much pleasure in the tasting experience of a great tequila as I do.” Oropeza also resided part-time in Puebla City, Mexico, and is survived by his wife, his four children and one grandson.
Erin Smolinski Jared Ricardo
Campari Group Campari America
ABOUT ESPOLÒN TEQUILA
The story of Espolòn lies in the heart of Mexican history itself. Distilled from hand-harvested 100% Weber Blue Agave in Los Altos, the Highlands region of Jalisco, the award-winning tequilas are the pride of the Casa San Nicolas and made in the Mexican tradition with modern techniques. A dream come true for Master Distiller Cirilo Oropeza, Espolòn pays homage to the legendary rooster, and is a tribute to the artists who inspired the world with their true portrayals of the rich, storied culture of Mexico. Espolòn’s striking bottle artwork features the calavera (skeletons) depicting key moments in Mexican history, and led by the proud rooster, Ramón.
Espolòn, at its heart, is a tribute to Mexican culture. Each bottle’s label captures a different moment from Mexico’s history, but all pay tribute to one true hero – José Guadalupe Posada. Posada was a 19th century artist and printmaker, a real pioneer and a bit of a rebel. His most famous work, the calavera (skulls), made powerful commentary on the social injustices of his time. He gave his people a voice and gave the art world a style that continues to influence pop culture today.
ABOUT THE CAMPARI GROUP
Campari Group is a major player in the global spirits industry, with a portfolio of over 50 premium and super premium brands, spreading across Global, Regional and Local priorities. Global Priorities, the Group’s key focus, include Aperol, Appleton Estate, Campari, SKYY, Wild Turkey and Grand Marnier. The Group was founded in 1860 and today is the sixth-largest player worldwide in the premium spirits industry. It has a global distribution reach, trading in over 190 nations around the world with leading positions in Europe and the Americas. The Group’s growth strategy aims to combine organic growth through strong brand building and external growth via selective acquisitions of brands and businesses.
Headquartered in Milan, Italy, Campari Group owns 22 plants worldwide and has its own distribution network in 21 countries. The Group employs approximately 4,000 people. The shares of the parent company Davide Campari-Milano N.V. (Reuters CPRI.MI – Bloomberg CPR IM) have been listed on the Italian Stock Exchange since 2001. For more information: www.camparigroup.com/en
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