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Mexican Authorities Raid Home of Tequila Matchmaker Founders

Earlier this week, Mexican federal authorities carried out a raid at a home belonging to Grover and Scarlet Sanschagrin, the founders of tequila transparency advocacy site Tequila Matchmaker. Officials claim the home, Casa Lotecito, was being used as “an adulterated tequila factory,” Mexican news outlet Mural reported early on Wednesday afternoon.

The Attorney General’s Office (FGR) in Jalisco was tipped off by a legal representative of the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT), which allegedly informed the office that the house was being used to produce adulterated spirits. Acting in accordance with a search warrant, officers can be seen breaking down the door to enter the building in a video submitted to Alerta Jalisco, which was published Wednesday afternoon.

While no arrests were made, hundreds of items were confiscated from the property. In total, authorities seized one drum, five containers containing an unknown liquid, 540 glass bottles, 56 jars, nine plastic packages, and a collection of labels. An assortment of distillation equipment was also seized, including two stills, three pots, a scale, and smaller items including a base for pipettes, alcoholometers, tubes, thermometers, graduated cylinders, beakers, test tubes, and more.

The news has been posted across various social media sites, and publications like Tequila Raiders have reported that the home in question on Miguel Hidalgo Street belongs to the Tequila Matchmaker founders. The raid is the latest development in an apparent transparency feud between Tequila Matchmaker and the CRT.

While additives are not illegal in tequila production, Tequila Matchmaker claims an estimated 70 percent of bottles contain them. The CRT does not require brands to disclose whether or not their bottles contain any, provided they make up less than one percent of the total liquid. With the issue gaining prominence among a relatively small but engaged set of agave spirits consumers, the Sanschagrins launched Tequila Matchmaker to advocate for more transparency in 2015 as an offshoot of Taste Tequila, a tequila information site the couple created in 2009.

Tequila Matchmaker currently serves as a one-stop shop for drinkers to learn more about the production of their favorite brands. In 2020, the founders launched the Additive-Free Program, which welcomes brands and distilleries to opt-in to be certified by Tequila Matchmaker as being free of additives.

In 2023, the program rebranded as the Additive-Free Alliance and introduced a physical stamp on approved bottles. Almost immediately, the CRT fired back, declaring that only their organization “has the necessary infrastructure to evaluate the conformity of the quality of Tequila,” according to a statement included in Tequila Raider’s reporting. The council then demanded that all stickers be removed and that Tequila Matchmaker cease any operations for independent additive-free testing.

Following this week’s raid, Mexico’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office closed Casa Lotecito and opened a case for crimes against health and industrial property for whomever is found responsible. VinePair reached out to the Sanschagrins but has not received a response at the time of publishing. A source familiar with the pair who was in contact with the them earlier today was told that they “really can’t answer any questions right now.”

VP Pro Take

VinePair reached out to Lou Bank, founder of SACRED, a nonprofit supporting the rural Mexican communities that produce agave spirits, for analysis. Here’s what he had to say:

“Honestly, I don’t have that much information as to what is happening or why. But it certainly feels like the actions against Grover and Scarlet may have been motivated by their work to build a market for Tequila that is free from additives.

I’m not a big fan of the movement itself. I think the conversation around additive-free distracts from issues impacted by tequila that are actually important: biodiversity, monocultures, water insecurity, food insecurity, and wages.

Having said that, if these police actions are, as I suspect, motivated by Grover and Scarlet’s grass-roots efforts to direct consumers to additive-free tequila, I think that’s an extraordinary misstep and a gross mistake, and a horrible violation of human rights. It reveals Jalisco to be a fascist-leaning state, and it will actually only serve to embolden the movement.

The vast majority of consumers consume a vast amount of additives every day in every product. Most don’t care. This action will suggest to tequila consumers on the fringes that they should care. It’s at a tremendous cost of liberty and peace of mind to Grover and Scarlet but, if I’m correct about the motivations, it’s certainly going to heat up the conversation around additive-free tequila.”

The article Mexican Authorities Raid Home of Tequila Matchmaker Founders appeared first on VinePair.

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