We had the good fortune of connecting with Jaime Whitton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jaime, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I have 5 major risks factors or rules that I have applied to my life and career. 1. BE… PATIENCE It’s a long process! Nothing happens over night. Our team has decades of experience in the spirits industry, we built an expert team, and still took us three years to launch. 2. BE FLEXIBLE Building a brand is climbing a ladder, after each step there’s another – Being a creative, that’s the fun part. Sometimes we get stuck on an idea, but you’re going to be evolving all the time. Things change. And sometimes… it’s everyday. 3. YOU NEED EXPERTS It’s okay to not know things. Arm yourself with experts outside your wheelhouse. When your product is finish and ready for the world to see, make sure you’re equipped financially and have enough cushion for mistakes because things are always more expensive than you think. 4. VET YOUR RELATIONSHIPS CAREFULLY As you get further and further into building your business, you’ll also be building new relationships along the way. You may work with a few rotten apples. You can trust people. But learn how to read people. 5. BE SPECIFIC Put it out in the universe and you shall receive. But be clear on what you need. Ask for help, search for advice, learn about everything from top to bottom.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have 3 obsessions – Tequila. Music. Environment. I’ve been growing my own organic, sustainable vegetables since I was a teenager and that passion started my dedication to the environment. My music led me to Los Angeles, where my family and I have been in the spirit industry for over 20 years, everything from bartenders to bar owners to spirit educators and distillers. After many trips to Jalisco we fell in love with the agave, and especially the USDA certified organic production process. My curiosity for tequila and sustainability of the planet only grew from there and here we are years later with EL SATIVO, the 2020 Tequila Of The Year (San Francisco World Spirits Competition). Nothing that is great is ever easy! So many stories to get this point, but I’ll start with the present. TEQUILA: After years of collaboration, and many distillation trials, we were bottling and getting ready to launch in August 2019. As luck had it, we stopped our bottling and decided the liquid wasn’t exactly what we wanted (for the 5th time) and had to ask them to pour out all 3600 bottles (none of it was wasted). We were devastated and deflated but my brother-in-law, Dr. Bob Summers, who helped create a proprietary temperature balanced distillation (this process maintains some of the beneficial elements in the agave), went back to work with our distillery. We finally finished and got our first bottles in January 2020, which coincided with the last day to submit for the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (a world renowned blind tasting). Then, March 2020 – Covid 19 shuts down the US. April 2020 – We win Double Gold and 2020 Tequila of the Year (SFWSC). A rollercoaster that continues to this day! At the time feeling deflated, but winning such honors truly lifted our spirits, literally! MUSIC/ENVIRONMENT: : This year, I released a new EP called, “Whitton – Cars Mars” that I felt really spoke loudly in 2020. Among the chaos, we have invested our time in the quick and easy things rather than the important things that take care and time. I want my music to help bring consciousness to the importance of relationships with each other and our planet, which I think is especially relevant given the present environment we live in today. The story behind the name of “Cars Mars” represents disconnection. Again, we invest ourselves in the surface and don’t take the time to nurture ourselves, relationships and the planet. We, as a society, are driven by the money carrot. Addicted to social media; Showing the world your best idea of yourself; brushing the truth under the rug if you will. We can miss so much importance and beauty and not even realize it. Lesson learned, trial and error can be exhausting. Patience. Partnerships. Vision. Trying to get each right can be time consuming and expensive. And I can tell you I’ve made a ton of mistakes! Be patient. Nurture relationships. Share in the same vision. Even a pandemic might hold something in the cards for you. 🙂
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is a loaded question! Considering what city I’d in at the time, I’ll pick Los Angeles since that’s where I live currently. One of my favorite things to do is paint the town red. 😉 Morning /day adventure : Espresso & Kick Shot at the Grand Central Market to start. Then, a bike ride on the beach trail from Santa Monica to Manhattan or hike/walk around the Rosebowl, Hollywood Lake or Griffith Observatory . Happy Hour (before or after an event) : Prank Bar (favorite- neighborhood bar- where everyone knows your name, all around drinks and food), Misfit Restaurant (cocktails), Stout Burger (burger and beer). Los Angeles Views : The Perch, The Ace Hotel, Griffith Observatory, Echo Park Lake. Dinner : Macaroni Republic, Tao, Pace, Gracias Madre, Sugar Fish and Frame Pizza. Entertainment : Magic Castle (magic all night), Hollywood Cemetery (movie in the cemetery), Comedy Store (best comedy in the world), The Largo at the Coronet (intimate concerts) and the iconic Marty and Elayne at the Dresden. Just to name a few. 😉
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I definitely wouldn’t say there was one particular person, there are so many different parts in the journey and even the most random person can help. Something as simple as a recommendation from an acquaintance can be life-changing. However, I am extremely thankful for my family. I wouldn’t be here today without their continuous love and support. They’re my heartbeat and my teammates in must things I apply myself too. Success for me is creating something you love and watching people connect with what you’ve created. That’s my joy. That started with music continued with bars and now I feel so honored to be sharing our tequila with the world. So, if I had to choose a group for a BIG shoutout, it would absolutely be to my amazing family.
Website: www.elsativo.com and www.whittonmusic.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/elsativotequila and www.instagram.com/whittonmusic
Facebook: www.facebook.com/elsativotequila and www.facebook.com/whittonmusic
Youtube: www.youtube.com/elsativotequila and www.youtube.com/whittonmusic
Photos by Dennys Ilic