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We asked Celaya Tequila Co-Founders (and brothers) Ryan and Matt Kalil the same five questions.
These are Ryan’s answers.
Interview

Ryan Kalil

We asked Celaya Tequila Co-Founders (and brothers) Ryan and Matt Kalil the same five questions. These are Ryan’s answers.

Interview by Steve Nash
March 2, 2020
Photography by Clay Cook
After 20 years of dedication to the sport of football, it was time for five-time NFL Pro-Bowler Ryan Kalil to retire. What was next? More work and more dedication. But this time towards a new endeavor - one rooted in family history.

WHY DID YOU CREATE CELAYA TEQUILA?

“In a sense I think we were always going to do it. Tequila has been a part of our family since long before I was born. Our great-great grandfather, Jose Celaya, made his own homemade tequila in Sonora, Mexico back in the 1800s and stories about him have been told in our family forever. And the more we learned about our family heritage as we were growing up, the more intrigued we became. Eventually it just got to the point where we had to start distilling. We had a legacy to honor and we think Jose would be proud. Of course, we’re using a modern, air conditioned distillery, as opposed to a stone wheel and a sweating donkey, but yeah, he’d still be proud.”

“Our great-great grandfather, Jose Celaya, made his own homemade tequila in Sonora, Mexico back in the 1800s and stories about him have been told in our family forever.”

FROM THE NFL TO TEQUILA?
WE HAD TO ASK

“(Laughs) Yes. I played for 13 seasons. And it turns out that football prepares you for anything. In college, I worked harder than I thought I was capable of. Everyone told me I was too small, and not fast enough and blah, blah, blah. But my dad gave me some advice that stuck. He said well if that’s true, you’ll just have to work harder than everyone else. So I did. I was determined. And it paid off. And then I went pro and the work really began because you’re competing at a whole new level. So yes. Football shows you what you’re capable of. Apply that kind of approach to anything you do and there’s no stopping you.”

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WHERE DOES CELAYA FIT IN THE WORLD OF TEQUILA?

“Celaya is a small-batch, premium tequila. It’s for sipping and enjoying. Although we would never discourage someone who would want to mix it into their cocktail of choice. After all, a margarita is only as good as the flavors you put into it. But primarily, Celaya is meant to be savored and enjoyed with friends and family.”

“But my dad gave me some advice that stuck. He said well if that’s true, you’ll just have to work harder than everyone else.”
“Celaya is a small-batch, premium tequila. It’s for sipping and enjoying”

KNOWING THAT HE WILL FOR SURE READ THIS, WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING WITH YOUR BROTHER?

“Matt and I are perfect business partners. We share the same work ethic, the same fascination with tequila, and our skill sets compliment each other perfectly. Plus when you’re working with someone you know and love, it makes everything easier. You know how each other’s minds work. There’s a whole lot to be said for a family business. It just works on so many levels.”

ANYTHING WE DIDN’T ASK THAT YOU’D LIKE TO ANSWER?

“I’d mention the Kalil Family Foundation that I started with my wife. Our vision with the foundation is to support people with lupus and accelerate research to find a cure. We’re also working hard to find effective and lasting solutions to homelessness. The foundation is another big part of my life. It’s a chance to give back in a meaningful, personal way.”


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