Drink Life Beverages

Black Owned and Millennial Founded: An Interview with Jon

Over the past six years, a booming American market for agave spirits has produced a rush of

Jon Basil Tequila is one such example, having focused exclusively on the Chicago market since its official

And CEO Uduimoh Umolu — who at 29 years old is a rare millennial founder in the space — has

But with plans to expand in both distribution and the number of expressions offered, Umolu and his

Uduimoh Umolu: I’ll give you a brief history around the name, because I think that ties

So he was the first person in his family to do so, and that ultimately gave us

So in our tradition, when you name your oldest son, your first son, you’re supposed to

So, um, I just wanted to pay respects to that legacy, and also pay homage to the

As far as tequila: It was kind of right after craft brews were really taking off in

Spirits were always something that I felt kind of brought people together

I remember at a funeral of a buddy of mine from school, we all kind of came

I felt like it was really important for us, and really integral to start having ownership in

Drinkhacker: Tell me about the initial sourcing process, figuring out where the juice was coming from so

Then 2015 is when I really got to spend a lot of time to really learn about the

We ended up going at a time when this was pre-George Clooney and the Casamigos wave

, there were a lot of regulations in order to bring a brand to market at the time

We ended up sourcing the agave from both the high and lowlands of Tequila, Jalisco to create

So we were going for a really, really smooth profile for our Blanco

We had about 500 cases when we were first starting out, which is tiny when you’re thinking

Most people kind of come with their Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo all at once

It took us three years to actually get to market after finding the right partners that are

But this is our backyard, and this is where we have organic reach; it’s where we

We started in the mom and pop shops, we had about two liquor stores, my business partner’

I had some relationships through working with the Jack Daniel’s family of brands

Uduimoh Umolu: This year we’re pacing to clear our 10,000 case mark here in Illinois, which we

We’re going to be moving in the next couple of months for sure

Drinkhacker: I want to talk about being a minority founder in American spirits

Is that something that has been a hurdle to overcome, or do you think the spirits industry

I definitely remember being like, “Wow, there’s really no multicultural or millennial-owned and operated tequila brands

So it took us a little bit more convincing and a little bit more proof of concept

So we launched with the smallest amount we could, we got the first store and the first

And as that started to grow, things started to become a lot more accessible for us

I think now though, the industry’s so ready, you’re starting to see a lot of