Ana Maria Romero Mena is one of the first Official Catadores of Tequila and is widely regarded as one of the most trusted, respected, and awarded tequila authorities in Mexico.
In an industry tied to doing things how they have always been done, Ana Maria Romero Mena is known for making up her own traditions. In 2007, Ana Maria published The Aromas of Tequila: The Art of Tasting, which identifies the various sensory notes found in tequila and explains how each scent develops over time.
She identified over 600 individual scents that she mapped onto an aroma wheel, which was adopted by the industry. Ana Maria is on the advisory board of institutions such as the Tequila Regulatory Council and the National Chamber of the Tequila Industry. As a Maestra Tequilera, Ana Maria oversees the entire tequila process for Mijenta from start to finish, and throughout her work, she is strongly committed to minimize environmental impact and promote biodiversity. We sat down with her to discuss all things tequila:
Pursuitist: Tell us more about yourself: where are from, what you are passionate about, how did Mijenta Tequila come about?
Ana Maria Romero Mena: My passion stems from aromatics. My first passion was wine, and I discovered a different world in tequila. Tequila means Mexico, and Mexico means agave, which is part of the history of Hispanic people. My second love and my passion is to develop flavors. If you see the process, it’s like a chef in his kitchen, choosing different ingredients, fermentation, distillation, cooking, timing, etc. I love my job because it’s knowledge and passion. I love changing the perception of tequila. When talking about aromatics, tequila has 600 aromatics.
What does a day in the life of Ana Maria entail?
Every day is a bit of a crazy day. When we have the harvest, we start in the fields at 5 am, for the harvest at 6 am. I speak and eat with my jimadores. When we are in the process, I work with them on fermentation. I also spend time tasting, traveling, teaching, and always have activities.
What is your personal relationship with tequila? What was your first tequila experience?
My first experience with tequila was when I was 15 when my grandfather introduced me to tequila. I loved the flavor. I loved Francisco Souza when he was the manager of Tequila Souza.
Tell us more about Mijenta Tequila ( story behind the name, cases produced each year, etc)
Mijenta technically does not mean anything. However, for us, it means our whole team- our people, the jimadores, our heart, our soul. “Mi Gente” is translating to the feminine meaning “My people”.
What trends do you see in the tequila industry right now?
The industry is definitely growing. We didn’t stop during the pandemic- we sold more this year and a growth in the high-end, premium niche. Tequila is also sustainable and is friendly with ecology, and the Cristalino category is going through a lot of innovation and development. Definitely, an opportunity for the industry itself to do more investigation and research on what the new trends can be, and also the agave plant, which I have been leading. The harvest, the cuts, etc. The vision of Mijenta Tequila is to show the world that tequila can be very elegant, very complex and changing the image and preconceived notions of tequila.
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