When Dr. Adolfo Murillo’s grandparents passed away, his family’s ranch in Agua Negra, Mexico, was slated to be sold. Murillo, a successful optometrist, had made good on his family’s proud tradition of improving his life for the sake of both himself and his family in Oxnard, California. He knew that his daughters, Eliana and Paloma, would continue that successful tradition in the United States. Maybe the time had come, Murillo mused, to give up the land that had been cultivated and cared for by his father and grandfather since 1941.
“I remember my wife telling me that if we let the sale go through, we would lose our place of origin,” Murillo remembers. “All of the tradition and hard work that my grandparents put into this ranch would be lost. It wouldn’t do them any justice for everything they had put into this place.”
Murillo remembers his grandfather working the land. Even more, he remembers the way his grandfather would use his land as a way to employ local residents and teach them how to cultivate the land in order to get the most from it, unknowingly teaching a generation about sustainable practices (which were then simply known as the rancher’s unique way of doing things).
The optometrist had no background in agriculture, but he was able to lean on his science skill set and started studying the soil to see what might be grown. Driving to the ranch from the airport in Guadalajara, Murillo found himself falling in love with the blue-green agave growing on both sides of the road. “I decided that’s what I wanted to see on the ranch,” Murillo recalls.
That was twenty-eight years ago. The decision to raise agave gave way to one of the most successful Mexican-owned-and-operated tequila companies in the world: Alquimia Tequila.
Tequila Alquimia’s organic growing protocols are both a tribute to the sustainable practices engineered by Murillo’s grandfather and a seamless combination of modern organic cultivation practices. And those practices are paying off—Business Insider and Robb Report call it the best tequila in the world, and Alquimia has been awarded more international gold medals than any other tequila brand in the two largest and most prestigious international spirits competitions.
The brand prides itself on its marriage of tradition and technology, both in terms of the product and the business itself. Murillo’s daughters work hands-on with the business, and daughter Eliana’s ten-year advertising stint at Google—during which time she founded its multicultural marketing program—helps ensure that the future of Alquimia is as smooth as its finish.
“No one knows how to make agave grow organically and make tequila better than my dad,” the younger Murillo says. “He is considered the pioneer in organic tequila by experts across the industry. I make sure people know that because I’m super proud of him. I’m honored that I get to work with someone who is not just my dad, not just someone who has a good idea and wants to create a business, but someone who actually knows what they’re doing in terms of making a high-quality product and having a true commitment to the environment.”
Cofounder Eliana Murillo represents the next evolution of the brand. She, her mother, and her sister Paloma designed the first bottle of Alquimia, and the latest bottle was also an in-house collaboration. The new labels were designed almost entirely by Eliana. “There was a moment when my dad and I realized that I was taking on the role of lead designer,” she remembers. “The constant collaboration and leveraging of all of our unique skills has been so inspirational for all of us, and I think that’s reflected in our product.”
Both Murillos speak much less about the awards they’ve won than the good they hope to accomplish with a growing international profile. Dr. Murillo, who serves as president and CEO of the company, also spends time teaching about natural growing methods for Mexican farmers—at no cost. “We do all of our teaching for free on the understanding that once those who have learned go back and see the effects on their own crops and on their own land, they understand that this could be done for many other crops and could be successful projects all over Mexico,” he explains. “We want them to teach others. If we do this, we’ll reach a critical mass where we will really begin to make an impact on the environment and on people’s lives.”
“People just needed a proof point,” Eliana adds. “People think that doing things organically is too expensive or labor intensive. But we have proven its worth with the quality of our product. It speaks for itself.”
Eliana, a self-confessed “serial side-hustler,” is also the founder of Eliment and Company, which encompasses an innovation venture lab, production studio, and consulting firm. Eliment’s goal, she explains, is to amplify and invest in diverse small businesses, start-ups, and content creators. She also consults for business and tech leaders on the design of culturally relevant products, marketing campaigns, and employee resource group strategies.
Her drive, she says, has deep roots. “I didn’t have a chance to meet my great-grandfathers, but I hold so many stories of how they helped people. It feels like their spirit is alive in our own hustle, in that energy to build a business and use that as a vehicle to make an impact. That’s what we say here all the time. Alquimia is our vehicle for making an impact. Salud!”