Michael Jordan and Four Other NBA Owners Just Started a Tequila Company
How on-court rivals came together to produce an excellent new spirit
“This is definitely not tequila by Michael Jordan.’”
That’s Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousback explaining Cincoro, a just-launched tequila hailing from an ownership group that includes, yes, ex-Chicago Bulls legend and current Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, along with fellow NBA owners Jeanie Buss (Los Angeles Lakers), Wes Edens (Milwaukee Bucks) and Grousback and Emilia Fazzalari (Boston Celtics).
So Grousback is technically correct — the spirit company has five equal partners, all of whom are nominally competitors but actually friends in real life. This month, the five officially launched Cincoro, entering into an increasingly competitive tequila marketplace that’s getting crowded with some well-known names.
Still, outside of the owners’ signatures on the very limited edition bottles of extra anejo, you won’t find any obvious nods to this tequila’s celebrity backers (though there are subtle ones; more on that shortly). And the tequila itself — which we tried over an hour’s tasting with Grousback, Fazzalari, Brand Education Lead Chris Spake (formerly of Patron) and CMO Russell Pareti (ex-Stoli) — was unequivocally fantastic.
The idea behind Cincoro (cinco for five partners, oro for gold, as in gold standard) began during a dinner in 2016. “We bonded over our shared love of tequila,” says Fazzalari. “We all ended up having the same idea of creating something smooth on the palate but with a long-lasting finish, like a Cognac.”
Creating something approachable but with a complex finish wasn’t an easy task. The group — including, again, yes, Jordan — traveled to Jalisco and sampled wares from dozens of different distilleries, eventually going with Destiladora del Valle de Tequila (not directly listed on the bottle, but was noted by the drinks publication Shanken News Daily).
That said, this is not a contract bottling, but an entirely new spirit built from the ground up. Cincoro is considered an “ultra-premium tequila,” made from 100 percent Blue Weber agave hailing from both private farms in the San Miguel el Alto highlands and the El Arenal lowland regions of Jalisco, Mexico — two distillates are slow-cooked and distilled in separate batches, then mixed together.
To craft the five-sided glass agave leaf bottle, Jordan called in Mark Smith, the Creative Director of Special Projects for Nike Innovation (which explains why there’s a 23 degree tilt at the bottom of the bottle.)
As for the spirit itself…some initial notes, below:
The blanco: On the nose it’s red clay, some nuttiness and then fresh agave. It evolves over time, where you’ll pick up notes of apple, peach and vanilla. Great on its own, it’s also a favorite of Grousback, who likes it in a Tommy Margarita and in an interesting martini variation with white port in lieu of vermouth.
The reposado: Aged in used whiskey barrels 8-10 months in an underground cave, the angel share is about half what you’d normally have, according to Spake. I usually find reposados to be lacking character, but not here. On the nose, you’ll get mocha, caramel and vanilla, plus a bit of creme brulee. On the palate, it’s chocolate and cinnamon, and a rare repo with a memorable profile.
The anejo: A big winner at the New York International Spirits Competition. More subtle than the reposado at the start, with less vanilla but more dried fruits on the nose. It has a cinnamon-y, dark chocolate profile with a creamy mouthfeel. Perfect for a non-whiskey Old Fashioned, and the best of the four.
The extra anejo: A 40-month-old in a black crystal bottle that goes for $1600 (if you’re lucky; the other variations retail for $70-$130). It initially comes across as a more subdued variation of the anejo, but as you sip it develops a depth. And the finish does remind me of a Cognac.
Cincoro is currently available in 12 major markets and on Reserve Bar, with a national rollout set for 2020.