Country star Thomas Rhett has always considered family to be one of the most important things in his life. His third cousin, Jeff Worn, has been like an older brother to him, and they’ve been best friends even since Rhett moved to Nashville and Worn to Valdosta, GA to pursue their careers in music and pecan farming, respectively. Both men love the outdoors, a fact that was readily apparent during a recent Zoom roundtable to launch their new tequila brand where Worn called in from his office surrounded by hunting trophies and Rhett showed off that he has clearly let his hair have it’s way with his head. When asked about his “mountain man” look he joked, “Yeah, I’m just lettin’ it go!”
Rhett and Worn combine their love of family and being outside on frequent group vacations together, and it was on a ski trip to Telluride, CO a little more than three years ago that the germ of an idea was hatched. Rhett recalls, “Jeff and I went out to a restaurant, and we were just trying a bunch of tequilas. Our waitress kept bringing us different tequilas. Whenever Jeff and I get into something, we go head over heels, whether it’s hunting or fishing or anything outdoors, we go hard in the paint on it! So we woke up the next morning and got on a ski lift. We’d been talking about starting a company together, but we didn’t know what it was going to be. We looked at each other and said ‘Dude, I don’t know what this means, but let’s start a tequila company! Even if only our friends and our parents like it, we can say that we did that.’ So we started the process of finding the right distributor and the right team to work with.”
The dynamic duo ended up teaming up with Luxco out of St. Louis and Master Distiller Rodolfo González from Jalisco, Mexico to develop their new premium blanco tequila product, “Dos Primos.” The name is Spanish for “two cousins” to reflect the importance of family to the project. Rhett explained, “Right on the front of the bottle it says ‘Forged by Family,’ and that’s what Jeff and I are. Even down to the jimadors down in Mexico, they’re fourth generation farmers. We really just wanted to surround ourselves with people that acted as a family unit and in something to be enjoyed by family. When you get to work with your family on something and not butt heads on every subject, it might be the best thing in the world!”
Worn concurs. “To be doing this with your cousin is unbelievable. When we were going through bottle designs and marketing concepts, we were able to leverage Thomas Rhett’s mind, and then we brought our individual talents to bear.”
Rhett explains, “Me and Jeff are a very unlikely duo, and I think most duos even in music are worlds different from each other. But what we do is keep each other sharp and keep each other creative.”
A pandemic isn’t the best time to be traipsing back and forth from Mexico, so much of the work on the creation of the spirit and the brand was done remotely through sending samples back and forth and calls to make major decisions. Fortunately, González had another family member who was able to help facilitate the connections.
Rhett describes the process, “We have spent ample time with Rodolfo’s daughter, Grace, who has given me and Jeff more knowledge about tequila than we could ever imagine. She has come to Nashville and did two rounds of tasting with us, taught us how to taste tequila and what we’re tasting for. Me and Jeff actually did a pretty gnarly preliminary tasting about two years ago where Luxco sent 12-13 different bottles, and Jeff and I had separate parties and had some people over to taste all these things neat, in a mixed drink and in a margarita. All those were actually different tequilas that already existed on the shelf, but they did that to find out what our palate was like and what tequilas we liked: what we liked about the nose, what we liked and didn’t like about the finish. When we actually got real samples, Jeff and I were able to craft what we thought was the perfect tequila for Dos Primos.”
What the cousins came up with is a blend of agave plants from the highlands and the valleys of Jalisco which combine to create a spirit that is exceptionally smooth, but not completely without character. The conscious decision to ask the jimadors to shave a little less of the greenery off the piña (the heart of an agave plant) allowed for just a hint of bitterness to remain in the distilled spirit to add interest.
Rhett has come a long way when it comes to tequila. “When I turned 21 or 22, tequila was not on the forefront of my brain at all. Bud Light and Jack Daniels, that was it. I had my very first sip of tequila when I was 22, and it was a rough experience. I think a lot of people have those memories. Once I started getting into the craft of tequila and the history of it and how much time goes into making it, I got inspired to learn more about the product itself. And when I started tasting tequilas that were considered ‘sipping tequilas,’ I was like ‘Dang, this is not what I tasted when I was 21 years old!’ That night in Telluride is one that I will never forget.”
Rhett suggests drinking Dos Primos the same way he enjoys a glass of bourbon, over a couple of ice cubes with an orange peel. He also likes it with a splash of Topo Chico and a lime, but his favorite cocktail recipe involves drinking it on the rocks with a spoonful of rosemary simple syrup topped with some sparkling grapefruit juice. “It’s fire!” he brags.
After its introduction in late January, Dos Primos is rolling out distribution across the country in bars and liquor stores. The brand keeps track of where you can find it with a listing of locations that is updated regularly on the Dos Primos website. And it couldn’t have come soon enough for Rhett!
He shares, “For the first 40-50 days of lockdown in 2020, I was losing my brain! I didn’t know what to do. If I can’t get on the road and play shows, I don’t know what to do with myself. Luckily, me and Jeff were working pretty heavily on this brand, and I think that getting to put my creative juices into something different other than music for a season was really refreshing!” Just as refreshing as a glass of Dos Primos with rosemary simple syrup and sparkling grapefruit juice…