The tequila and mezcal market is hot. In fact, according to data from the Distilled Spirits Council – DISCUS, for the first time Tequila overtook American Whiskey for the No. 2 spirits category by revenue in 2021. The top three spirits category by revenue are now 1. Vodka, 2. Tequila/Mezcal and 3. American Whiskey. With that in mind, the segment continues to attract top talent.
SUSTO MEZCAL, a super-premium hand-crafted mezcal based jointly in Austin, Texas, and Oaxaca, Mexico has filled two key leadership positions with the appointment of Mark Shilling as Chief Executive Officer, and Fabiola Lozano as Texas Market Manager. The significant hires will help the company build on its successes of the last two years, spurred by the tremendous growth in 2021 of more than 40%. SUSTO Mezcal is poised to expand its brand presence throughout the U.S. Founding partners Liz Stewart, Titi Rodriguez, and Ingrid Taylor will continue their active roles both in Texas and Oaxaca.
Shilling will lead business strategy, financial management, and operations. He is responsible for expanding U.S. sales and overseeing production logistics in Oaxaca. Shilling brings extensive beverage alcohol industry experience to the company. In his role as a partner in Big Thirst Consulting, he provided integrated business services for established and start-up distilleries to improve operations from production and marketing to sales and distribution. Previously he founded Revolution Spirits, an Austin area distillery in 2013.
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Shilling is well known in the industry for his work supporting craft spirits producers. In 2016, Shilling was elected to the board of the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), serving as president from 2017-2018. He currently leads the organization’s government affairs committee, focusing on the federal excise tax, tariffs, trade practices, and other industry concerns. He was recently recognized for his service to the industry with the ACSA’s inaugural Gable Erenzo Spirit of Community award.
“Mark is the right leader for SUSTO MEZCAL as we continue to vigorously grow our market share,” said Ingrid Taylor, managing partner of U.S. operations. “His extensive management and operations experience and track record of growing small spirits brands will help SUSTO strengthen distribution partnerships and position our company for strategic growth. We believe his strong leadership experience will help focus our efforts as we increase production in Oaxaca, expand our distribution to new markets, and optimize our e-commerce sales.”
“I am excited to join the SUSTO MEZCAL team,” said Mark Shilling. “SUSTO has achieved several important milestones over the past year. With such sustained demand over the last 18-months we are poised for continued expansion. We have a great business model and an outstanding team that uniquely positions us to capitalize in the growing mezcal market. My focus is to bring spirits industry best-practices to improve efficiencies and make it easier for consumers to try and buy our award-winning mezcal.”
What is Mezcal?
First of all, mezcal is not “smoked tequila.” Mezcal is all about high proof, small batches, and no worms. Mezcal is a distilled spirit that can be made from some thirty varieties of agave, or maguey. It is usually made by mezcaleros or producers with a process that redefines “artisanal”: agaves are roasted in an underground pit, wild-fermented in open vats, and distilled to proof.
Similar to tequila, mezcal falls into five categories.
- Blanco (unaged) is bottled immediately following distillation.
- Joven (young) is usually aged less than two months.
- Reposado (aged) is aged two to 12 months.
- Añejo (extra aged) is aged at least one year.
- Extra Añejo (ultra aged) aged three plus years.
SUSTO is unique in that Grupo Compadres owns the NOM and the production facilities. SUSTO is not a white-label brand. Through its Mexican entity, Compadres chose to take the complex road to become certified producers of mezcal (a process that took over a year to complete) through the Mezcal Regulatory Council (CRM). NOM-0526X.
To assist in managing this explosive growth, SUSTO has hired Fabiola Lozano as Texas Market Manager. She brings passion, energy, and spirits industry experience to her role in managing the brand throughout Texas. Prior to joining SUSTO MEZCAL, Lozano successfully managed over 60 accounts in the on-premise spirits market with Republic National Distributing Company where she was recognized numerous times as a Top Seller. A native of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, Lozano is a graduate of the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley and will work out of San Antonio.
According to market research firm Technavio, the mezcal market in the United States has reached $100M in sales and is expected to grow to $315M by 2023.
Compadres Importing LLC, which owns the SUSTO Mezcal brand, manages the entire chain of production in Mexico—from harvesting to distillation and bottling. The company also owns the coveted Norma Official Mexicana (NOM) certification for making mezcal, which distinguishes SUSTO MEZCAL from many other mezcal brands that simply buy and bottle spirit made by others. SUSTO MEZCAL is crafted in San Dionisio Ocotepec, Oaxaca by mezcalero, Crispín Pérez.