My name is Clayton Szczech, and since 2008, I have been connecting serious Tequila lovers and novices alike to the authentic culture of Tequila. I currently lead over 30 educational tours a year, have hosted and trained hundreds of people, and am proud to work with a loyal base of aficionados who return to tour Tequila Country with me year after year. I’ve been able to do this by forging deep and lasting relationships with Tequila producers and their communities.
I’ve been recommended by the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Imbibe Magazine, Sunset Magazine, San Francisco Business Times, Chilled Magazine, The People’s Guide to Mexico, TasteTequila.com, Lonely Planet, and countless blogs and local media outlets.
I am the only non-Mexican to have earned the Tequila Regulatory Council’s “Double T” certification for excellence in Tequila tourism, and one of the only people in the world to hold both the “Double T” and the “Distintivo T,” for general Tequila knowledge. I have been certified in Tequila tasting by Master Taster Ana María Romera Mena, and as en Experto en Tequila by Dr. Jaime Villalobos of the Academia Mexicana de Catadores de Tequila.
I have served as a tasting judge, presenter, or consultant for festivals including the Spirits of Mexico, Manhattan Cocktail Classic, Northwest Tequila Fest, Santa Barbara Tequila Harvest, and the Monterey Tequila & Mezcal Expo.
But what people usually want to know is, how did a gringo like me get here?
My passion for Tequila began as a larger passion for all things Mexico. I became obsessed with the Spanish language as a high school punk rocker and wannabe cholo in California’s Central Valley. I first crossed the border in 1995, and I never stopped going back. Eventually, the lure was so strong that I moved to Mexico. I began learning about how Tequila is made, and it seemed so bizarre that I had to go see for myself. I fell in love with the village of Tequila, Jalisco, on that first visit in 2007.
I felt immediately compelled to find a way to share that special place, and its traditional beverage, with other people from throughout the world. I launched Experience Tequila in 2008, and guided my first group tour in 2009.
My fluency in the Spanish language and Mexican culture have allowed me to build the relationships that are the foundation of my tours. I’m an extrovert and a joker with a bawdy sense of humor, and I’m also an over-educated Phi Beta Kappa, so I know a lot of big words and a lot of bad words, in both English and Spanish. This means that I’m equally comfortable in academic settings, dining with old-school Mexican bluebloods, and relaxing in Mexico’s saltiest cantinas.
I am detail-oriented and no-nonsense when it comes to planning, and laid-back and warm when I’m hosting guests. Before starting my business, I was a teacher and an entertainer, and I bring both of these perspectives to my tours. There are few things I enjoy more than re-living “first moments” through my guests’ experience: their first taste of cooked agave, their first whiff of fermentation, their first sip from a barrel, and so much more. I sincerely love this work and cannot imagine enjoying a job more.