The Mexican tequila cartel is up in arms over Elon Musk’s proposed "Teslaquila" venture

The Mexican tequila cartel is up in arms over Elon Musk’s proposed "Teslaquila" venture

Teslaquila has been "coming soon..." since October of last year

VicesApril 24, 2019 By Will Brendza

If his tequila turns out to be as smooth as his cars, Elon Musk’s “Teslaquila” might be an electric spirit. That is, if Mexico’s stiff-necked Tequila Regulatory Council ever allows him to actually make it.

The “business magnet” (as he likes to refer to himself) has been joking around with the idea of creating his own Tesla-brand tequila for just over a year now. Last April, after Tesla filed for chapter 14 and a half bankruptcy (“the worst one”) Musk posted a picture of himself to Twitter, passed out and propped up against the side of a Tesla Model 3, allegedly “surrounded by Teslaquila bottles, the tracks of dried tears still visible upon his cheeks.”

It was a joke. But one that Musk might have taken to heart. Later that same year, on October 12th Tesla actually filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a “Teslaquila” trademark. Shortly thereafter Musk Tweeted again, teasing the world with a mock-up label for the boozy merch, commenting, “Teslaquila coming soon…”

Since then, though, things have gone quiet. The Musk hasn’t made any more mentions of his prospective tequila. And with the one-year anniversary of the April Fool’s tweet that started it all having just gone by, fans and curious tequila aficionados are starting to wonder: why?

It is possible that it was just a joke all along. Maybe Musk was trolling us from the beginning, teasing the world with a luxury it will never know, yanking Twitter’s chain so hard it sent waves of excitement rippling across the web; waves that were really, only rumors.

But this is Elon Musk we’re talking about here — the man who’s building earthquake-proof tunnels under LA to solve their traffic problem, the man who engineered a fleet of electric cars to save the world from carbon emissions, the man who started a business called “The Boring Company” which created and sold 20,000 “Not a flame-throwers” (which were definitely flamethrowers) in a mere five days.

Musk doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to shy away from a unique and quirky business venture. Especially one he’s taunted the world with several times. Especially one that many of his followers expressed sincere and genuine interest in — there is a real market opportunity here, something that people would undoubtedly buy into and that could make Musk an even richer man than he already is.

So what gives?

More than likely, Musk has run into problems with Mexico’s tequila cartel: the Tequila Regulatory Council (TRC). This powerful group keeps close tabs on all tequila producers, ensuring that they follow the highly-strict “rules of origin” that make tequila, tequila.

You see, only spirits distilled with Agave Azul, in one of four Mexican states (Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit or Tamaulipas) can actually be considered “Tequila.” If it’s made anywhere outside of those four Mexican states it cannot legally be sold as “tequila” — even if it is technically 100% puro de agave

That’s why you see vodka, rum and whiskey distilleries popping up like stalks of grain all over the country, but you won’t find any local tequila distilleries no matter how hard you look — there aren’t any. The TRC has made sure of that.

If you want tequila you have to get it hecho en Mexico. It is the only way.

This is likely the hurdle that’s keeping Musk from making moves on Teslaquila. If he truly wants to pursue this as a Tesla product, he’s going to have to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops, hook up with a legit tequila producer and spend a lot of money to appease the TRC.

Who, basically said as much: “If it [Tesla] wants to make Teslaquila viable as a tequila it would have to associate itself with an authorized tequila producer, comply with certain standards and request authorization from Mexico’s Industrial Property Institute,” the TRC said in a statement. “Otherwise it [Tesla] would be making unauthorized use of the denomination of origin for tequila.”

So, will the world ever get to taste Teslaquila?

It’s possible — but I wouldn’t keep a spot in your liquor cabinet open for it. It would probably still be a long time before Teslaquila was made commercially available, if Musk wasn’t just kidding this whole time and if he actually follows through with the TRC’s demands (both of which are big if’s).

One thing is for sure, though: Teslaquila would undoubtedly be the coolest car company merch out there. Unlike Ferrari’s $55 earbuds and Maserati’s $163 keychain, Teslaquila would be something people could actually enjoy, something to savor in good company, an experience to remember.

Never mind the ethical conundrums of selling booze to promote vehicles. The world wants Musk's tequila.