The world might not be asking for another celebrity-backed spirit brand, but sometimes we get what we get and try not to get upset. In a welcome twist on this trend, however, Lenny Kravitz has decided to eschew the over-saturated tequila market and partner with a new sotol brand called Nocheluna, a Mexican spirit that is virtually unknown to most Americans. Only time will tell if we will let love and sotol rule, but Kravitz is betting on it.
Kravitz spoke to Robb Report about his involvement with Nocheluna, and readily admitted that it was a complete unknown to him initially. “I’ve been touring for 32 years, and there’s not a lot of places I haven’t been or seen,” he said. “And here I was being taken to place I’d never been to and learning about a culture that was new to me.” That place was Chihuahua, one of the three states that sotol can be made in Mexico (the denomination of origin is not currently recognized by the US, so there is sotol also being made in Texas which is the subject of some controversy).
Sotol is a unique spirit that is made from the dasylirion plant (also known as “desert spoon” in the US), as opposed to tequila and mezcal which are made from different types of agave. Sotol’s flavor is bold and assertive with earthy, vegetal and smoky notes, and these can be found on the palate of Nocheluna. Kravitz’s production and business partners for the brand are Casa Lumbre (which also makes Montelobos Mezcal, Ancho Reyes, Abasolo Corn Whisky) and Pernod Ricard. He said that the decision to partner up on this particular spirit came down to its uniqueness and personal relationships. “If I was gonna do anything like this, I wanted to do something different,” he said. “There are so many [celebrity] tequila brands and other spirits, and I like to do things that are new and innovative and challenging. The real truth is that… I had no idea about sotol, as most people don’t, and I fell in love with it. I love the taste, the complexity and learning about something I didn’t know about.”
The Casa Lumbre team flew down to Kravitz’s Bahamas residence to talk over the plan, and after a few days he realized these were people he liked, respected and could work with. Maestro vinatero Don Eduardo Arrieta (known as Don Lalo), sotol expert Ricardo Pico and master distiller Ivan Saldana are the technical forces behind Nocheluna, which is made from wild Dasylirion grown in fields in the Chihuahuan desert with a focus on sustainability. Kravitz traveled there too to immerse himself in the process and culture. “I went, I hung, we tasted, we discussed, we went to the desert and met the people that are harvesting and making it,” he said. “[Sotol] has the notes which I love, especially the smoke. Whether it’s food, incense, fragrances or a spirit, I love the element of smoke. It’s always been attractive to me.”
The challenge now is to introduce sotol to the American market and beyond and hope it takes off in the way that agave spirits have in recent years, which Kravitz said he’s feeling bullish about. “People are always interested in finding something that’s new, a story that’s new, an association with a feeling,” he said. “I remember 20 years ago being in Europe and having a hard time finding good tequila. People were not into it. Over the years, you’ve seen what that’s turned into. I believe when people learn about sotol, about Nocheluna, over time it has what it takes to be popular and be a new lane in the marketplace.”
For now, you can purchase Nocheluna via the brand’s website (SRP $79.99), and at stores in Texas, California, Florida, New York, Arizona and Colorado with nationwide distribution by the end of the year. And who knows, if the sotol category explodes over the next few years, Nocheluna could wind up being the next Casamigos.