Go for the Goza: Tequila for Everyone
We’ve all dreamed of quitting our jobs to do our own thing, but few of us actually take the plunge. But Jacob Gluck, founder of Goza Tequila, managed to pull it off, creating an award-winning tequila brand without a shred of pretension. We love sharing Goza’s friendly vibes and sweet, full flavor with our tequila club members, so we caught up with Jacob to learn more about how Goza got off the ground, how the tequila is made, and what makes the brand so special.
GETTING TO GOZA
When Jacob Gluck graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in finance, he figured he’d work for major companies his whole life—go to meetings, contribute to a 410k, get promoted, maybe even snag his own corner office after he put in his time. But life, it turned out, had other plans.
“I did not grow up from a young age thinking I’d be running a tequila company one day,” laughs Jacob, “but it turned out that finance was not for me.” So when he was 25, he returned to his home town of Atlanta to search for something a little more interesting, seizing the opportunity to experiment while he was still young, unattached, and willing to take risks.
As luck would have it, Jacob had a family friend who knew somebody with a tequila brand who was searching for an importer. “I said, ‘This is interesting!’” says Jacob. “I love tequila! So I went down there and met with him. The tequila was phenomenal, but importing is not what I wanted to do. So I thought hell, now I know Armando Esparza, the master distiller, so I went to him and said ‘Let’s create our own brand.’”
That initial relationship was critical, because building a partnership with a tequila distillery for international entrepreneurs can be a challenge. As international demand for tequila has risen, more brands have emerged, and distillers have grown cautious about partnering with just anybody. “It’s not just one of those things where you can pick up the phone, call a distillery, and say ‘I want to make tequila,’” explains Jacob. “The tequila world is pretty close-knit. You have to have a connection.”
THE GOZA DIFFERENCE
From the beginning, Jacob knew he wanted Goza Tequila to be different from other brands on the shelf—approachable, friendly, and easy to love. So he and Armando worked tirelessly to create a spirit that was soft, sweet, and flavorful.
The distillery that makes Goza is entirely vertically integrated, from growing the agave to bottling the finished tequila. “We care about all the details in the process,” explains Armando, who holds a degree in chemical engineering. That meant Jacob and Armando could tailor each and every step of the production process to create the exact style of tequila Jacob was after.
Goza Tequila is distilled from 100% Blue Weber agave grown to peak maturity, about eight or nine years. After harvesting, it’s cooked for eight hours in a stainless steel autoclave, a bit shorter than many other brands. Jacob says this brief cooking time amplifies the citrusy flavors in the agave piñas and avoids any heavy or smoky flavors.
The yeast used during fermentation is also important. “We use two different yeasts in this fermentation process,” says Armando. “It’s really important to add the exact quantity of yeast we want, and to maintain the exact temperature we want. We do a four to six day fermentation process. If it goes too long, we get some ketone aromas that are really bad.”
After distillation on copper pot stills, which is relatively unusual in Tequila (many distilleries use stainless steel stills), the spirit is ready to be either aged in barrels, or prepared for bottling. If it’s destined to be a reposado or añejo, it’s proofed down to 43% before going into Elijah Craig barrels for maturation. Proofing before barreling is more expensive, because there’s more volume to go into barrel and therefore more barrels to store, but Armando says it makes a much more concentrated and powerful tequila.
All of Goza’s tequilas, aged as well as unaged, undergo an oxygenation process just before bottling that helps create a distinctive sweet flavor in the final products. Armando carefully directs oxygen to bubble through the tequila, using different bubble sizes depending on the product. “This helps break up the bigger alcohol molecules, which removes the alcohol aromas and burn,” explains Armando. “When I do this, I get a really sweet tequila.”
TEQUILA FOR EVERYBODY
“We’re really about inclusivity,” says Jacob. “At the top of our brand is: be yourself. Everybody thinks you need a rapper to sell tequila. But I’m not going to ride a jet ski in a tuxedo with a hot model. Nor should you have to in order to have good tequila. You can ride a jet ski if you want. Or, you could just come home from work and put on your comfy clothes and drink tequila with your friends. You don’t have to be somebody else. You’ve just got to be yourself.”