Investors pony up $1.5 million for Austin tequila maker

Todd Short

Tequila 512 introduced its new anejo version Sept. 26 and announced a significant private investment. Photo: Tequila 512

via Jan Buchholz, Austin Business Journal

Tequila 512, the scrappy liquor company based in Austin, has secured $1.5 million in private funds to continue its expansion by adding employees and entering new markets.

In association with the capital investment, Tequila 512 introduced its first anejo product — aged 13 months in oak casks that previously held bourbon to create what the company says is a “peppery body and slight mango finish.”

The anejo rounds out a product line-up including the original blanco and reposado styles.

Founder Scott Willis recently engaged Austin advertising agency The Butler Bros. to create a new logo and packaging. The color and design was inspired by painted signs in the town of Tequila, Mexico.

“Our packaging is one of our most powerful assets,” Willis said.

Since beginning Tequila 512 in 2012, the company has grown dramatically, though its specific revenue numbers have not been released. Company officials said Tequila 512, which pays tribute to Austin’s 512 area code, grew 60 percent in 2015 and is on track to grow 70 percent this year.

A former techie, Willis explained how tequila became his passion in a profile I wrote in 2013. He spent years traveling to the heart of tequila country in Jalisco, Mexico, learning about the process of distilling the agave plant and making friends with folks who would grow his stock and create his style of tequila.

Once the first batch was hatched, Willis took the product door to door. His first customer was Pete Petropoulis, owner of South Lamar Wine and Spirits.

Willis’ tenacity paid off. In 2015, the Tequila 512 blanco version received the “Best of Show” award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

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