Interview: Mijenta’s Maestra Tequilera, Ana Maria Romero

The new, small-batch tequila brand has a focus on community, culture and minimal environmental impact

Helmed by Ana Maria Romero, Mijenta—a new, small-batch tequila—delivers a perfectly balanced sipping experience: clean and fresh, with a peppery finish and velvety mouthfeel. For tequila enthusiasts, experts and rookies, there’s a uniqueness and vibrancy that comes with this spirit that extends beyond the liquid itself. The name Mijenta comes from “mi gente” meaning “my people,” and it’s a sentiment that permeates the brand’s ethos.

Beyond working to preserve, protect and promote ancestral tradition within their processes, the brand also reinvests profits within the local community through their The Mijenta Community Foundation. Community and place are intrinsically linked, and Mijenta aims to respect the land upon which they work, too. This is reflected in their mission for minimal environmental impact: labels are made from agave waste, packaging is eco-certified, and everything is purchased within Mexico. Further, all employees are paid a fair salary, and their healthcare and education opportunities are extended to their families.

Romero, who has 25 years of experience in the tequila industry, and her team want to protect and celebrate the local culture—and with that comes a product made by highly skilled craftspeople and composed of high-quality ingredients.

We spoke with Romero about the agave plant, the process and the tequila itself.

What first attracted you to the world of tequila?

My interest was sparked by the versatility of the agave plant and its aromatic aspects.

How is your approach to making tequila unique?

Early on in my career, I started to explore and introduce a sensorial approach to the liquid, with dedicated research into tequila’s aromas and tasting notes. As part of my research, I collected a large sample of tequila in order to document the subtle variations between styles and identified over 600 individual scents. These were then mapped into an aroma wheel, which has since been adopted by the industry.

What was the motivation behind creating Mijenta?

I saw great potential to elevate the tequila image globally, introduce sustainable practices and to grow the premium category of the liquid. Mijenta is our people, our land, our inspiration. It is as much driven by the past as it is by innovation. In crafting Mijenta, I considered how to increase the flavors, how to give other people the image of terroirs, when you see all the different elements coming together—the climate, the elevation, the soil, the agave. Mijenta also gives us the opportunity to elevate the tequila category by educating people on the artisanal methods as well as the innovations.

What’s your favorite attribute of the liquid?

My favorite attribute of the liquid is its flavor profile, which truly is a story that unfolds from within. For Mijenta, it celebrates the agave and enhances its aromatic, sensual aromas, with a powerful body that features, honey, vanilla, caramel and floral notes, along with flashes of tropical fruits such as peach, melon, pineapple and light touches of soursop. The olfactory promise is confirmed by the palate with a complex, silky and generous finale. In order to truly appreciate this, I suggest people enjoy Mijenta by sipping it, in cocktails, or paired with food.

What kind of food pairs best with Mijenta Blanco, in your opinion?

I would say Peruvian-style ceviche.

Tell us about the design of the brand, bottle and packaging.

Firstly, I think it is important to share that Mijenta is built on the desire to maintain nature and all the wonders it has to offer, seeking to reverse environmental impact through actions carried out at all stages of the life cycle.

Our packaging design was inspired by the fields of agave that are below the volcano located in Jalisco. We used simple lines to create the illustration and then applied hot stamping to make it stand out more. The inspiration behind the rabbit logo is inspired by Centzon Totochtin—a folk tale that tells the legend of Mayahuel, the goddess of the agave plant, and Patecatl, the god of Pulque. Their union produced 400 mischievous rabbits with a taste for good company, good spirits and good times.

All of the paper components incorporated [the label and box] are made from recycled materials including agave waste, coffee bean bags made from jute fiber as well as post-consumer recycled paper. Our glass is locally sourced in Guadalajara and, in order to reduce waste and carbon emissions, we purchased excess bottles which had already been designed and produced by the factory which would otherwise have gone to waste. Mijenta works with Climate Care, a company based in Oxford, UK in order to ensure we are carbon neutral.

Mijenta Reposado is coming later this year. Can you tell us a bit about it?

It is indeed, and we are so excited to share it with the world. Our Reposado is aged up to six months in oak barrels which allows us to offer a beautifully aged liquid. The Reposado presents a softer and fuller expression of Mijenta, for those who prefer a more mellow rounded flavor. There is a hint of oak with notes of honey and vanilla, too.

Images courtesy of Mijenta