George Strait Takes His ‘Strait Shooter’ Mentality To The Tequila World With Código 1530

George StraitPhoto Credit: Francisco Estrada

STRAIT SHOOTER

Pure Country pioneer George Strait has conquered the music world with an illustrious career spanning over 30 years—not only does he not plan on slowing down any time soon, but he’s also set his sights on conquering another world—the spirits world—with Código 1530 tequila, one glass at a time.

If you know country music, you know George Strait. If you don’t know country music, you probably still know George Strait. An icon in the western-born genre and in the music world as a whole, George’s musical talents are an undeniable gift, leading him to nation- and even world-wide success sustained over decades—that’s no easy feat for a musician. Despite that, he remains humble. “I don’t think of myself as ‘great,’” begins the country crooner, cool as ever. “Whatever happens to an artist is determined by the fans. If they think you are great, then you are very blessed.”

George StraitPhoto Credit: Francisco Estrada

And blessed, he is. But like everyone else at the moment, he is restricted, given the COVID-19 pandemic that has held the world hostage, one country at a time. Given that the U.S. is going through a particularly difficult time with the virus at the moment, George’s touring days have come to a halt, and he’s traded sound checks for sanitizer. “I’ve used so much hand sanitizer, it’s become a habit,” he exclaims.

This pause in touring is an unfortunate result of the times, especially since George is particularly known for his live performances—and he loves doing them just as much as his audiences loves to partake in them. Foregoing much of the production and the bells and whistles that a lot of live performing musicians add to the overall experience, he goes the minimalist route: just George, his guitar, a microphone, and of course, his cowboy hat. But he exudes such an electric and engaging energy, the embellishments would really just take away from the performance as a whole. “Can I use that in my bio,” he asks, playfully. “I’m pretty laid back, that’s just how I am. I feel like I connect with my audiences by just being real and I try to sing every song like it was the first time I performed it.”

That sense of realness and authenticity is one of the most prominent aspects of his persona and performance that made him a country music icon and gave him that coveted title, “King of Country.” And the 60 No. 1 singles—more than any other artist in any genre—probably helped, too.

So, it’s no surprise that when you think of real country music, you think of George Strait. But the world of country music has changed drastically since George started his career, particularly in recent years when artists like Taylor Swift and Lil Nas X have taken country into a different direction, fusing it with other successful but entirely different musical genres like pop and hip hop. In kind of an ironic twist, country music today, has quite literally, become the Wild Wild West of music, where it’s every man for himself—or every woman for herself, of course—and the genre is up for grabs for whomever wants to pick it up and put their own spin on it. “I’m a traditionalist,” says George, without hesitation. “Country radio quit playing new music from me a few years back. I knew that was going to happen at some point, but after all of the years I was on it, it was a hard pill to swallow. I do appreciate all of those years they gave me, though.”

George StraitPhoto Credit: Francisco Estrada

Be that as it may—though hard to believe—luckily for George and for his adoring fans, there is a slew of different outlets where his music is widely available and easily accessible, including YouTube, music streaming services and social media, of which the last has become a particularly interesting place for George. On his Instagram account, for instance, his fans get an even deeper look into who he is and what he’s doing, with throwback posts of past performances, upcoming tour dates/locales and even new ventures he’s involved with, like his Código 1530 Tequila. He launched the spirit with his friends and business partners who he first connected with in Cabo San Lucas on vacation, where they drank local tequila and played rounds of golf, among other things, I’m sure. “I sort of fell into this tequila business. We all did,” he reflects. “We were not looking for a tequila, we just came across this great juice like it was destiny. My friend Fede [Federico Vaughan]…his family got this tequila from friends in Amatitán [and] we all fell in love with it so much, that after a few years of being stingy with it, [we] decided to try to share it with the world. [Co-founders] Fede, Ron [Snyder] and Betsy [Heneghan] came up with the name Código 1530—and I love the name, by the way. After that, it was off to the races. I had no idea what would be involved in starting a tequila business, but it’s not so easy. Luckily, we have some real smart people running the show.”

One of those “real smart people running the show” is Ron Snyder, former CEO of Crocs, whose success in the world of business George says, “speaks for itself.” That’ll come in handy, especially since the tequila market is saturated with so many different brands to choose from. “You’re right,” George admits. “There are so many brands out there and that’s what makes it so challenging. We feel the quality of Código 1530 though is by far the best. We just have to keep working to get people to try our tequila.”

And if you do try his tequila—which I highly recommend, by the way; it’s definitely in a league of its own—you’ll have your choice between five expressions—Blanco, Reposado, Rosa, Añejo and Origen—of which the Añejo is George’s favorite. “My preferred way to drink Código is the Añejo over a big, round chunk of ice—Strait.” Somehow, this seems fitting. George continues, “They are all amazing in their own right…We cut no corners and only use the best agaves.”

George StraitPhoto Credit: Francisco Estrada

In addition to that, what sets Código 1530 apart from other tequilas on the market in a big way, is the fact that there are over 170 active distilleries out there, with approximately 1700 brands of tequila, meaning that most of the distilleries are making multiple brands of tequila. The Código 1530 distillery, on the other hand, only produces one tequila. This ensures the highest level of quality control, perfecting each of the brand’s five expressions, bottle after bottle.

And just as the Código 1530 distillery focuses on mastery of the one brand it produces, George, too, seems to focus on mastery of just those brands he is passionate about; that is, Código 1530 and his own. “I don’t have any plans to create more spirit brands,” he confesses. “[But] I do have plans to go back in the studio sometime in the not too distant future and make more music. I’m starting to get it on my mind.” Unsure of how much longer quarantines are going to be in effect, knowing that we’ll have more George Strait music and Código 1530 at our disposal is something we can all certainly look forward to, and maybe even cheers to. After all, like George says, “Anytime is a good time to enjoy Código 1530.”

Código 1530Photo Credit: Código 1530

GEORGE ON CÓDIGO 1530

We’ve got five expressions now, but we occasionally come up with a little variation or [a] specially aged bottle—Blanco, Reposado, Rosa, Añejo and Origen, which is our Extra Añejo, aged six years. For the aged ones, we use nothing but time and the best agave, aged in our high-quality Napa Cabernet [wine] barrels to enhance the flavor and color of Código. Our Rosa is in an uncharred barrel and that’s what makes her so unique and gives her the color she has [a translucent, soft pink, similar to a rosé wine]. We have our own distillery—which some tequila companies can’t say—and we make it the old-fashioned way. Just remember what I always say about this tequila: If it’s not your favorite, you haven’t tried it. Hasta la Cruz!

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