Talking Tequila With the Tequila Goddess in Scottsdale

Katie Schnurr gives a crash course on what you need to know.

Katie Schnurr has been the Tequila Goddess at La Hacienda since 2015. Her interest in tequila began while bartending during college.

"I became curious about it when I was bartending, and I would research and write about different tequila companies for my finals," she says.

When the position of Tequila Goddess became available at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, where La Hacienda is located, it was a perfect fit. After Schnurr was hired, the resort sent her to Mexico for additional training and to be certified by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (Tequila Regulatory Council).

Ok, so what is a “Tequila Goddess?”

Think of me as a wine sommelier for tequila (like a 'Tequilier'). Tequila is actually like wine in a weird sense and can be quite complex. My job is to help guide guests through their drinking experience by educating them on the differences between various tequilas and, most importantly, how to drink it the proper way!

Now that we’re not in college anymore, what is the "proper" way to sip tequila?

I can guarantee you will hear me say this countless times a night, "SIP IT! DO NOT SHOOT IT!" I like to say we break bad habits in La Hacienda as I give a full Tequila 101 crash course with each flight that I bring out.

A trio of tequilas.

Why does each brand come in three bottles?

Most brands have at least three bottles to showcase the different aging categories of their tequila: blanco, reposado and añejo. Then if a company is mature enough, they will sometimes even offer an extra añejo as well.

Think of blanco as the babies in the tequila world—they have no aging process. Reposado means “rested” in Spanish, so that tequila is aged anywhere from 2 months to just under one year in oak casks. Añejo, literally meaning "aged," sits anywhere from 1-3 years, and anything over 3 years is considered an extra añejo because they are extra aged.

What would someone looking at a tequila list need to know?

Basically, if you are the type of person who prefers drinking vodka or gin, your palate will most likely prefer a lighter aged tequila like a blanco or lightly aged reposado. If you enjoy whiskey, bourbon or scotch, I would highly recommend a heavily aged añejo or extra añejo, and in some cases, even a mezcal (if you are feeling adventurous!).

What is the deal with mezcal? Is it still tequila and what is with the worm in the bottle?

The best way to describe this spirit is kind of like tequila’s crazy cousin. Tequila must be made strictly from Blue Webber Agave only, whereas mezcal can be made from any type of agave, as long as it is grown in Mexico and made and produced in the Oaxaca regions. The most distinct difference between tequila and mezcal is that mezcal has a very, very smoky flavor because they smoke the agave in the cooking process. I like to think of it as the scotch of the agave world.

The worm is just for fun—there are several myths about it like, "if you eat the worm, you will hallucinate" or "If the worm isn't deteriorating inside the bottle, then your insides won’t deteriorate, either."

Do you have a favorite tequila?

I have many different tequilas that are my favorites! I always say, like wine, it depends on what mood I am in. Sometimes I prefer something light, crisp and refreshing like a blanco and other times I want something to warm me up by the fireplace like an oaky añejo.