Celaya: Kalil Brothers’ Tequila

By: Michael Prentice

Celaya Tequila, a venture by former NFL players Matt and Ryan Kalil, is a notable addition to the expanding market of celebrity tequila brands. The brothers, known for their successful careers with the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers respectively, have transitioned from football to the spirits industry, launching a brand that pays homage to their family heritage. Celaya Tequila stands out for its commitment to quality, authenticity, and the crafting of premium small-batch products. Celaya is one of over 50 celebrity tequilas to have hit the market.

This article provides a look at the Kalil brothers’ journey into tequila-making, the inception of Celaya Tequila, its product range, and where it’s made.

Celaya tequila launched in May 2022 with three expressions: blanco, reposado and añejo.

Founding Story of Celaya Tequila

Celaya Tequila was co-founded by brothers Matt and Ryan Kalil, former NFL players, who embarked on an entrepreneurial journey in the tequila industry after their successful careers in professional football.

The tequila is named after the brothers’ grandmother’s maiden name, Celaya.

The brothers were inspired to create a tequila by their grandmother, affectionately known as Abuela Frecia. Abuela Frecia was the keeper of the family’s history and traditions, and it was through her stories that Matt and Ryan Kalil learned about their great-great-grandfather Jose Celaya’s tequila crafting.

In the late 1800s, Jose was known for crafting homemade tequila on his ranch in Sonora, Mexico. The tales of his meticulous craftsmanship and the authentic tequila he produced were passed down through generations, inspiring a sense of pride and connection to their Mexican heritage.

Matt Kalil and Ryan Kalil’s Roles At Celaya

Matt Kalil is the co-founder and CEO of Celaya Tequila. Ryan Kalil is the other co-founder. Both Matt and Ryan are the faces and promotors of the brand.

What Kinds of Tequila Does Celaya make?

Tequilas produced by Celaya are all 100% blue agave and made using both traditional stone ovens and more modern autoclave. The agave is a 50/50 blend from the lowlands and highlands of Jalisco. Like Patrón, they use a blend of tahona and roller mill crushed agave. The tequila is twice distilled in stainless steel pots with copper coils.

Celaya Blanco

  • ABV: 40% (80 proof)
  • Price: $49
  • Agave: 100% Blue Agave
  • Aging: Unaged
  • Notes: Citrus, baked agave, pepper
  • How to drink Celaya Blanco: Sipping straight, with ice, or in cocktails

Celaya Reposado

  • ABV: 40% (80 proof)
  • Price: $55
  • Agave: 100% Blue Agave
  • Aging: Three months in ex-bourbon oak casks
  • Additives: Yes. Celaya Reposado has added sweetener, from agave syrup.
  • Notes: Oak, toasted cream.
  • How to drink Celaya Reposado: Sipping straight, with ice, or in cocktails

Celaya Añejo

  • ABV: 40% (80 proof)
  • Price: $89
  • Agave: 100% Blue Agave
  • Aging: 12 months in ex-bourbon oak casks
  • Additives: Yes. Celaya Añejo has added sweetener from agave syrup.
  • Notes: Cooked citrus, vanilla, honey.
  • How to drink Celaya Añejo: Sipping straight or with ice.

Celaya Tequila Calories

Celaya Blanco Tequila contains 98 calories in a 1.5 oz shot. The reposado and añejo have added agave syrup sweetener so will have one or two more calories (there is less than 1% agave syrup added).

Does Celaya Tequila Have Additives?

Yes, Celaya tequila has additives. Although it is mixed in its communications. In press releases the brand claims to be “additive free” but on its website it says it has no “unnatural additives”, just agave syrup. They add agave syrup to add sweetness. It is less than 1% by volume and is not disclosed on the bottle, but is mentioned on the website.

Under Mexican rules, brands can claim to be 100% agave tequila but still have up to 1% additives that they don’t have to disclose. These can be oak extract, glycerin, caramel color and/or sweetener.

Celaya Tequila Bottles

The bottles for Celaya Tequila were designed based on old whiskey bottles. They are clear, with bold white writing, a thick glass base and a crooked label on the back.

Distillery for Celaya Tequila

Celaya Tequila is produced at Casa Maestri Distillery (Destiladora del Valle de Tequila), in the town of Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico, NOM 1438.

Who makes Celaya Tequila?

Celaya tequila is made by Casa Maestri at Destiladora del Valle de Tequila in the town of Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico. Casa Maestri makes more brands than any other tequila distillery, currently producing 195 brands of tequila.

Other Brands Produced at the Distillery

A total of 195 brands are produced at the distillery for Celaya Tequila. Other celebrity tequila brands produced at the same site include Michael Jordan’s Cincoro and rapper E-40’s E. Cuarenta. Other brands include El Padrino de Mi Tierra, Hussong’s, Los Azulejos and Casino Azul. Casa Maesti used to produce Kirkland Signature reposado tequila for Costco. They also used to produce singer Jenni Rivera’s self-titled tequila.

Who Owns Celaya Tequila?

Celaya Tequila is owned by Matt and Ryan Kalil. After establishing a sales base, the pair also took in outside investors, but maintain majority control.

Promotional Activity for Kalil Brothers’ Tequila

Celaya tequila was first promoted in Southern California, the home of the Kalil brothers. In May 2023 a distribution agreement was reached with national distributor Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits which will increase the availability of the brand.

Partnerships with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and USC Athletics

Celaya Tequila announced partnerships with The Coliseum and USC Athletics in August 2023. Celaya is now the Official Tequila of The Coliseum, the 77,000 seat arena and home to the USC Trojans Football team. Both Matt and Ryan Kalil played football at USC.

Partnership with New Story

Celaya Tequila announced a partnership with affordable housing organization New Story in June 2023. Celaya Tequila will donate a portion of the sales proceeds from each bottle sold to New Story. New Story will support affordable housing for projects in Jalisco, the home of tequila.

Celaya Tequila Owners

Matt Kalil

Matt Kalil, born Matthew Francis Kalil on July 6, 1989, in Corona, California, grew up in a family with a strong football background. His father, Frank Kalil, played in the United States Football League (USFL), and his brother, Ryan Kalil, also pursued a career in the NFL. Matt attended Servite High School in Anaheim, where he demonstrated his football prowess, earning him a scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC).

College Football Career

At USC, Matt Kalil played for the Trojans from 2008 to 2011 under head coach Pete Carroll. He redshirted his first year but quickly became a key player for the team, playing as an offensive tackle. Matt earned numerous accolades during his college career, including being named a First-team All-Pac-12 selection and a consensus All-American in 2011.

NFL Career

Matt Kalil declared for the NFL Draft after his junior year and was selected as the fourth overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2012 NFL Draft. He made an immediate impact, earning Pro Bowl honors in his rookie season. Matt played for the Vikings until 2016, showcasing his skills and contributing significantly to the team’s offensive line.

In March 2017, Matt signed a five-year contract with the Carolina Panthers. However, his time with the Panthers was marred by injuries, leading to his release in 2019. Matt briefly joined the Houston Texans in 2019 but did not see regular-season action due to injuries.

Celaya Tequila

Under Matt’s leadership, Celaya Tequila has experienced growth and expansion. The brand offers a range of tequila products, including Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo, and has received positive reception for its quality and authenticity.

Ryan Kalil

Ryan Kalil was born on March 29, 1985, in Tucson, Arizona, to Frank and Cheryl Kalil. Growing up in a family with a strong affinity for football, Ryan, along with his younger brother Matt Kalil, was introduced to the sport at an early age. His father, Frank Kalil, was a former USFL player, which significantly influenced Ryan’s interest in football. Ryan attended Servite High School in Anaheim, California, where he excelled in football, earning him a scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC).

College Football Career

Ryan played college football for the USC Trojans from 2003 to 2006. During his time at USC, he played as a center and was a key contributor to the team’s success. Ryan earned multiple accolades, including being a two-time First-team All-Pac-10 selection (2005, 2006) and a consensus All-American in 2006. He was also awarded the Morris Trophy in 2006, recognizing him as the best offensive lineman in the Pac-10.

NFL Career

Ryan Kalil was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He quickly established himself as one of the league’s premier centers, earning five Pro Bowl selections (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015) and being named First-team All-Pro twice (2013, 2015). Ryan spent the majority of his NFL career with the Panthers, serving as a team captain and playing a pivotal role in the team’s offensive line.

In 2019, after briefly retiring, Ryan came out of retirement to sign a one-year contract with the New York Jets. He played one season with the Jets before officially retiring from professional football in 2020.

Celaya Tequila

Post-retirement, Ryan, alongside his brother Matt, embarked on an entrepreneurial journey in the spirits industry by co-founding Celaya Tequila. The venture was inspired by their family heritage and the tequila-making legacy of their great-great-grandfather, Jose Celaya. Ryan plays an active role in the company, focusing on brand development and community engagement.

Further Questions About Celaya Tequila

What Celaya tequila is the best?

Celaya blanco is the highest rated in the lineup.

What type of tequila is Celaya?

Celaya tequila is made from 100% agave. The tequila is made using mostly traditional production methods. Celaya makes blanco, reposado and añejo tequilas.

Does Celaya tequila go off?

An unopened bottle of Celaya tequila will never go off, provided it is stored away from direct sunlight and high temperatures. Once opened Celaya should be drunk within a couple of years.

Is Celaya tequila gluten free?

Yes, Celaya tequila is gluten free. Like all tequilas (including mixtos) Celaya contains no gluten.

Is Celaya real tequila?

Yes, Celaya is real tequila made from 100% agave. Celaya is made with mostly traditional methods but does use a high pressure autoclave for some of its production.

Is Celaya tequila Kosher?

Yes, Celaya is acceptable as Kosher, as a 100% agave tequila.

What is Celaya tequila ABV?

Celaya tequila is 40% ABV (80 proof). Almost all tequila sold in the US is 40% ABV.

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