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Three ASU grads taking shot in tequila industry

Before every ASU football game this season you can find the three founders of Cruz Tequila grilling and drinking, as they have for the past 10 years, on the second floor of the Packard Stadium parking structure.

Former Sun Devils Joseph Pep Katcher, Saulo Katcher and Todd Nelson have known each other since their early days at ASU more than 15 years ago.

Since graduating from ASU the friends find time to spend together as well as develop their pride and joy, Cruz Tequila.

Today Cruz Tequila, with a silver medal in taste from the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a bronze medal from the 2008 Agave Spirits Challenge in Cancun Mexico, can be found on the shelves of Sun Devil Liquor and served at the bar at the Phoenician in Scottsdale.

“It all stared a little over three years ago,” said Nelson.

The friends were poolside at Joseph Katcher’s house when the tequila ran out.

When they went to buy more, the owner of the tequila shop they visited suggested a bottle, assuring that it was the best.

“We brought the bottle home, and it was awful,” Joseph Katcher said.

The consensus around the pool was, “we could make a better tequila than this,” Joseph Katcher said.

By the end of the day Saulo was on the phone with a cousin in Guadalajara, Mexico to find out what it would take to make their own tequila.

Tequila is a drink traditionally made in Jalisco, Mexico utilizing the juice of the blue agave cactus. The drink has deep roots in Mexico, originally made by the Aztecs and called pulque.

Today tequila is found all over the world with varying traditional designations of aging: blanco, or white tequila, is aged only two months to reposado, or rested tequila, which is aged for up to a year.

“In that area [Jalisco], locals drink reposado and that is what we decided to make,” Joseph Katcher said.

The three men say they strive to make the highest quality tequila, using only 100 percent blue agave juice and traditional methods of preparing it.

“People [who] say, ‘I had a really bad experience with tequila,’ they had a bad tequila,” Nelson said. “Tequila is as good and complex as any spirit in the world.”

Cruz Tequila is known for its smooth taste.

“We use no chemicals in the distillation process and raw 100 percent blue agave, … the traditional process, aging the tequila in oak barrels, and it creates as smooth a taste as we can make,” Joseph Katcher said.

While the trio utilizes traditional methods to prepare their tequila, they chose a more modern approach to bottling the spirit.

“The bottle is 100 percent recycled glass,” Joseph Katcher said. “It is an ecofriendly tequila.”

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