They’re among Kansas City’s most popular brands, Andy Miller said, distilling just how crucial it is for the minds behind Spanish Gardens, Perez, and Silva’s to get it right as they launch a new brand: Una Familia Tequila.
“There were sleepless nights,” recalled Miller, founder of Una Familia and COO of Spanish Gardens Foods — the now iconic Kansas City-bottled sauce and seasoning company.
The business originally launched as an Argentine-stuffed taco house by his grandfather, Luis Silva, in the 1950s.
Silva’s work birthed a full-blown dynasty that is related to Perez Food Products, operated by Miller’s cousins, and Silva’s Foods, run by his uncles until a recent acquisition by Spanish Gardens.
Interested in learning more about the legacy left by Silva? Click here to explore the story of Spanish Gardens — “the most craveable sauce on the planet.”
“The last thing we wanted to do was put out a subpar product and associate these legacy brands with it,” he added. “You don’t have a crystal ball. You can’t tell if someone’s going to drink the tequila and then stop buying your sauce.”
Determined not to lose ground, Miller flew south to Tequila, Mexico — the birthplace of the spirit — equipped with shot glasses, limes, and plenty of salt, ready to roll up his sleeves and conduct necessary research on distilling partners.
“I tried a lot of tequila in a short period of time,” he laughed, noting he and his team eventually selected Tequila-based Casa Maestri as the maker of its 100 percent pure agave tequilas.
“The juice was good. The blanco was phenomenal, the reposado was absolutely phenomenal — and the anejo. The whole portfolio was awesome,” Miller explained, adding that the distillery is also run by third-generation family owners like himself.
From blanco to anejo extra, click here to shop current offerings from Una Familia Tequila.
“They blend modern and traditional — which is exactly what I was doing with my food brands. Everything just felt right.”
Una Familia officially launched in fall 2021, making it the first locally owned tequila brand to hit the market, Miller said.
Kansas City distiller Mean Mule, which operates a tasting room in the Crossroads Arts District, offers an American agave spirit, which is similar to tequila, but differs in one distinct ingredient: production location.
“There is Mean Mule — and they’re a great company. They’re an agave spirit, but they produce the product here in the states so they can’t call it tequila,” he explained, noting that to carry the name “tequila” a spirit has to be produced in the namesake region of Mexico.
“We’re the import house, we control every aspect of it. But the agave is harvested in the highlands of Jalisco.”
The tequila is available in both Kansas and Missouri — distributed in partnership with Worldwide Beverage and Central States Beverage. Una Familia launched in Colorado earlier this month and sales are expected to begin in Arkansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Oklahoma in the coming weeks, Miller said.
“The launch in Kansas City has been more than I could ever expect. The people have really gotten around the brand. They love it. They love the branding, they love the story and they love tequila,” he added.
“We’ve got a lot of menu placements, we’ve got a lot of cool things coming for Kansas City for Cinco de Mayo. We’ve really made it a KC-centric brand and we’re trying to saturate the Midwest.”
Such civic pride carries through to the packaging of the tequila. Each bottle of Una Familia carries a teal Kansas City heart on its label — acknowledging the official symbol of the region and the brand’s tagline: Born in Mexico, raised in Kansas City.
“Just like my grandfather. He was born in [Guadalajara] Mexico, but he grew up in Kansas City,” Miller said, adding he’s hopeful he can tap into his grandfather’s genius as Una Familia begins to flow.
“I want to grow this thing. I want to pick up a spirits magazine in five years and read how this tequila out of Kansas City became the Tito’s of tequila — without a celebrity star behind it,” he continued.
“We’re the heartland of America, Kansas City. We make great products and we just want to continue that tradition.”
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This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.