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El Duende bottle art by Gene NoconThe night Phillip Soto Mares, his father and Tio Roberto celebrated Phillip's coming of age at 18 with glasses of uncle's homemade blue agave tequila, the inevitable trajectory of Felipe's life was set.

"I knew then what I wanted to do," said the 53-year-old Soto, now a certified Catador from La Academia Mexicana del Tequila, A.C. Since that night in Vista, California 35 years ago, Don Felipe has been educating himself on the traditions of Mexican tequila-making while cultivating friendships within Mexico's close-knit distilling community.

In 1994, Tio Roberto – a tequila maker by trade - began teaching Felipe the secretive art of making tequila that his father had taught him. Felipe's wide-ranging education included a healthy respect for Mexican culture, its politics and the flow of power.

Felipe continued his education in tequila as a buyer and seller of rare tequilas. With dual U.S. and Mexican citizenship, the bilingual California native forged friendships among Mexico's oldest families as he searched for collectible tequilas. Among his finds was a pair of four-liter hand-blown Austrian crystal bottles of Porfidio single-barrel anejo. A friend, Don Nicolas Martinez, distillery owner and 60 year veteran in the tequila industry from Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes, Mexico, gave Don Felipe a Damajuana from the fabled lost cellars of La Rojeña in Tequila, Jalisco. This 100+ year-old bottle, partially wrapped in the original agave fiber, remains in his private collection.

As he continued his education and built relationships on both sides of the border, Felipe began experimenting with tequila recipes while practicing the craft lessons of Tio Roberto. In 2002 Felipe tapped a barrel of his original recipe Reserva, five years in the making. Inspired by his success creating a world-class Añejo tequila, Felipe negotiated with his friend Don Nicolas Martinez, of Compania Tequilera de Arandas, to distill commercial quantities of Felipe's tequilas.

Thus, El Perdido Tequila was born. Now, the first taster's barrels are reaching Don Felipe, president of El Duende Tequila, Inc., from his distillery Industrializadora de Agave San Isidro, S.A. de C.V., in Tepatitlan, Jalisco. El Perdido Tequila offers a Blanco, a ten-month Reposado, a two-year Aņejo and a three-year+ Aņejo Reserva.

As he grows the company, Don Felipe conducts tasting seminars, educating people on the craft and process of making and enjoying fine tequila. As a staff writer for 100% Tequila, Don Felipe moves among the world's great tequila aficionados. His insider status and his reach as an industry expert helps him guide the market. Don Felipe plans to place El Duende Tequila in stores and restaurants in 2006.

For more information on El Perdido Tequila, contact:
Don Felipe at (760) 481-7586 or felipe@elduendetequila.com .

Learn more about Phillip Soto Mares on the Biography page.