Cuentacuentos promotes and distributes traditionally-made Mezcal. We cultivate and curate a network of traditional family producers, who have been making mezcal for generations. By adding more family producers, we are able to meet demand while still offering small batches of high-quality mezcal that can be enjoyed by aficionados around the world.
Our vision is that these families thrive as producers of quality mezcal, becoming true ambassadors of their culture, so they can pass down traditions to future generations.
The Cuentacuentos team wants to help promote cultural heritage and the ancestral know-how of these families by empowering them to take charge of their future. In today’s article, I want to take a moment to highlight the visionaries bringing this dream to fruition.
Read Spear, Director and President
Donald Read Spear’s entire professional career has been in regulated, consumable products requiring a high level of internal company organization. (Mr. Spear believes that a high barrier to entry combined with the need for a high level of organization makes for an unfair playing field, an advantage worth the effort to acquire.) From 1997 to 2004 he was one-third owner and COO of an online dietary supplements company, which sold in late 2004. For this company, Mr. Spear did all product research, wrote all sales copy, created and managed the back-end data management and order fulfillment system, did regulatory compliance for product labeling, and managed the fulfillment center in Boulder, CO. Following the sale of that company, Mr. Spear traveled around the world, ending his two-year trip in the fall of 2006 in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he had his first experience with traditional mezcal.
From 2008 to 2020, Mr. Spear worked in various enterprises within the burgeoning medical and adult use cannabis arenas. Following the sale of his dispensary and cultivation operation in Lyons, CO in 2013, as RS Consulting, Inc, Mr. Spear began doing business consulting work with private investment groups seeking licensure in states around the US as those states added legal cannabis programs. Mr. Spear worked with groups entering nearly every state in the US that has announced a cannabis program, helping them comprehend and accommodate the extreme level of regulatory scrutiny in this arena. Mr. Spear used the proceeds from his business consulting activity to fund Origen Imports, LLC (now Origen Imports, Inc) in May of 2015.
Mr. Spear earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree (cum laude) in Philosophy at The Pennsylvania State University in 1992, and his Master of Arts in Philosophy (cum laude) at Duquesne University of the Holy Ghost in 1994. Early success in business has led Mr. Spear to help people who otherwise would have no access to US markets.
Alan Lara, Gerente de Operaciónes
Oaxaca-born Jacob Alan Lara Ruiz studied Business Administration at the Universidad Anáhuac Oaxaca from 2015 to 2020. While a student, he belonged to the “IMEF Universitario” (Instituto Mexicano de Ejecutivos de Finanzas) in the position of director of social responsibility. He has broad experience in the mezcal industry, from agave purchasing to product production and sales. Alan began working in 2017 as an administrative assistant for a well-known white-label mezcal producer, then in 2019 he worked as a sales agent for another brand of mezcal. He has been with Cuentacuentos since 2020.
Carlos Mendez, Director de Operaciónes
Carlos Méndez Blas grew up in Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca, the “World Capital of Mezcal”. He is one of the fourth generation of a family of master mezcaleros. At the age of eight he started helping his father to produce mezcal on the family palenque.
In 2011, following the untimely death of his father, he took direction of the family mezcal business, later launching his mezcal packaging plant, offering production and packaging services to his clients, as well as establishing agave plantations in many different regions of Oaxaca.
In 2018, he built his second distillery and in 2019, he built one more distillery. He has recently ventured into the rum industry, working again with small producers and selling under the TSO’OK brand.
He is currently the director of the company Productores del Buen Agave SA de CV and of MFM Productores SAPI de CV mezcal company, focused on the production of maguey (agave), mezcal production, packaging, and export.
Steven Adelkoff, Esquire, Director, Consultant, and Legal Counsel
For over three decades, Steven Adelkoff has worked in all aspects of the structured finance, alternative investment, off shore private wealth, securities and capital markets industries. He has led teams negotiating domestic and international transactions involving real estate, commodities, power generation, renewable energy, commodity exploration, structured finance, investment management platforms, and investment funds representing a range of strategies. His diverse skill set allows Mr. Adelkoff to meld legal, regulatory, compliance, tax and accounting aspects of transactions to achieve world-class results.
After spending the first 20 years of his career (first as an associate and then equity partner) for the global law firm K&L Gates, Mr. Adelkoff helped run diverse businesses from Shariah compliant hedge funds to an international developer of power projects. Today, he acts as the Chief Compliance and Legal Officer for Fairwinds International Bank, LLC (located in Puerto Rico), manages all investment activities for a family office and is an active private equity investor.
Mr. Adelkoff earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (where he graduated Magna Cum Laude), his Master of Business Administration degree from Cornell University – The Johnson School of Management, and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University. A Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst, Mr. Adelkoff also holds the Series 7, Series 63 and Series 24 broker dealer licenses. He is also a certified anti-money laundering specialist. His favorite activity is teaching graduate students at Rutgers University and Point Park University, where his academic interests lie in international business ethics, behavioral economics, social entrepreneurship, and decision analysis.
Sandra Luquin, Mexico Counsel
Sandra is the CEO and Founder of CASA LEGACIA, both a Tequila and mezcal brand, and a consultancy providing end to end service for people creating new Tequila and mezcal Brands. A Mexican businesswoman who is passionate about authentic Mexican spirits, food, beverages and culture, she is a Maestra Tequilera (Master of Tequila).
Sandra has more than 20 years’ experience in business operations across a number of countries. She founded and ran two businesses from the Netherlands: Mexican Cooking and Taco Gallery. These companies brought authentic Mexican cuisine and beverage events to the Dutch, French, Belgium, UK and Irish markets. Events included tequila tasting, food pairing, cooking workshops and vibrant Mexican parties.
Blanca Esther Salvador Martinez, Mexico Counsel
Dra. Blanca Esther Salvador Martinéz was born in Oaxaca, August 25th, 1968. Her studies include law at the Universidad Autónoma “Benito Juárez” de Oaxaca, and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (PDH Law). She studied English at San Francisco State University, International Law at the Academy of International Court of Justice. La Haya, Holanda.
Professionally, she is expert in international commerce law, specifically with respect to TLCAN (NAFTA), anti dumping and subsidies, and she has worked under the Ministry of Economy. Other areas of specialty include exportations and domestic commerce (Oaxaca State Government); foreign investment, mezcal exportation, international contracts, intellectual property; and academic development and research.
Dra. Salvador is the founder of Institute of Institute of International Research and Studies, Civil Association (https://iinvei.org/) which studies human rights, women’s rights, gender equity, and publishes on research and cultural activities.
She has been a Professor of university of international commerce, law and marketing at UNAM, Anáhuac University, ITAM, and other universities in México.
Dra. Salvador is the author of several articles and books, including, “El ABC del Negocio de Mezcal” (The ABCs of the Mezcal Business).
Ansley Coale, Director
In 1981-1982, working with Hubert Germain-Robin, scion to Jules Robin Cognac, Ansley Coale co-founded Alambic, Inc, the first craft distillery since Prohibition stopped all alcohol production- This company is famous for producing Germain-Robin Brandy, served at the White House as a favorite of President Ronald Reagan. In this business, Mr. Coale raised the necessary startup money, managed construction, managed the business operations, and all distribution, sales, marketing, and publicity until 1995, when they added a second salesperson.
In 2002, working with Jorg Rupf of St. George Spirits, Ansley helped create the vodka brand Hangar One, and, a year later, founded the marketing company Craft Distillers. At Craft, Mr. Coale developed an innovative model of marketing that stressed the details of production and the people making the product, using the story of production to replace the traditional “push” method of sales, focusing on the trade itself as the route to the consumer.
In 2004, working with Destileria Los Danzantes of Oaxaca, Ansley brought mezcal to the USA at a time when the category was scarcely known. In 2009, he created the brand Mezcalero, the first mezcal to focus on single-batch production and on wild agaves, and in 2010 took on Mezcal Alipus, which now has twice placed No. 2 on lists of brands preferred by bartenders.
In 2010, Mr. Coale used the proceeds from his sale of Hangar One in 2010 to establish the niche brands Low Gap Whiskey, Henry Russell Gin, and Vodka DSP CA-162.
Mr. Coale earned his Bachelor of Arts in Classics and History at the College of Wooster in 1966, his Master of Arts in Ancient Greek and Roman History at the University of Michigan in 1968, and his PhD in the same field of study 1971, also at the University of Michigan. From 1971-1975, Mr. Coale lectured in Classics as an Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley. Mr. Coale has vast experience and good industry relationships in Oaxaca, having walked five times from Oaxaca to Juquila. He is working now on a project to stabilize a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in Toledo, OH.
Christopher Stevens, Advisor
Christopher Stevens has decades of experience in alcohol sales, having worked his way up the ranks from his early days at the Rainbow Lodge in Houston, TX where he managed day-to-day operations for one of Houston’s elite restaurants from 2003- 2006. From there, he went to Hawaii to work for Young’s Market, at the time the fourth largest liquor distributor in the US. At Young’s in Hawaii, Mr. Stevens managed a team of five sales representatives to grow the fine wines category, tripling sales by his two year anniversary.
In 2008, Mr. Stevens began work at Craft Distillers as a Regional Sales Manager. At Craft he moved from a six-state territory to a twelve-state territory, and is now the Director of Sales for all of the US. At Craft, Chris has developed working relationships with nearly all of the main US distributors including Republic National Distribution Company, Breakthru Beverage, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, Johnson Brothers, Major Brands, Tenzing, Favorite Brands, Standard Beverage, Quench, Vin Sauvage, A. Bommarito, and Pinnacle.
Mr. Stevens is responsible for beverage programming (brand positioning, pricing, placement, and logistics) of approximately 75 SKUs through their distribution chain of 40 national distributors. Mr. Stevens’ relationships, developed over decades, are the key to his success in this industry.
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