Bob Summers PhD | Dr. Tequila

An Interview with Kat Mische Elle

Bob, can you tell us about your back story and journey that brought you to where you are today?

Coming from humble beginnings is my subtle way to say we were poor growing up. There were seven of us: five boys and two girls. My mother worked as a nurse, and my father was a traveling salesman at the time. They always found a way to feed, support, encourage, and love us. Family is very important to me, and their love and support are where I draw my strength. If you do not have love and support from family, I would recommend you find it elsewhere and build on it. Your support system will be unique and beautiful; even if you must build it from scratch, you will find a way. You may notice that I use that phrase a lot, and it is sort of my life’s theme: “There is always a way.” You can always find your path to success, but it must be YOUR path—the one that works best for you and your loved ones. 

A wonderful example of how my parents showed me how to “find a way” was when they found a way for us to attend a good private high school, even though there was “no way” we could afford it. They moved us from our humble home, rented it out, and used that money to pay for school. It was a unique path, to say the least. We lived in a one-bedroom shack while they paid back the money. It was a struggle for all of us as there was no running water, except the creek in the back. We slept in the attic (yes, all seven of us) and had to climb a makeshift wooden ladder on the wall to get there. Every morning, we would clean up using water heated on the woodstove, pile into the station wagon, and my mother would drive us to school across town on her way to work. It was a bit of a rough patch for a while, but my parents loved us and made it fun. When I look back on it now, I recall it fondly, more like a camping adventure. 


I have very few regrets in life, but I do have one regret from that experience. I was embarrassed to get dropped off at the front of the school because we were the “poor kids,” so I would ask my mom to drop us off a few blocks away so we could walk in. In retrospect, I would have asked her to pull right up to the front door with the horn blasting. I would have jumped out and YELLED at the top of my lungs: “Hey everyone, look over here, look at my beautiful mother… Look at how much she loves us… Look at how hard she works and sacrifices, so we can come here… Isn’t she AMAZING!” 


Experiences like these formed me and taught me how important it is to keep searching for your path, no matter how many times someone tells you “It can’t be done.” 


After graduating high school, my twin brother and I became EMTs and worked in Reno for several years. It was so fun, and some of our patients thought they were seeing double sometimes, but it’s where I realized how much I loved healthcare, and I knew my path would always include some way to help people. 


To this day, any success I have comes from that love and desire to help others. With El Sativo Tequila, it is my love of family and the desire to help others which drives me. It is a perfect fit because I am able to work with the family to create this wonderful masterpiece, and now, I get to share it with the world. 

Share with us how you were led to the naming of your tequila?

Yes. After I graduated high school, I became an EMT/Firefighter. My passion has always been to help people, so I would have to say, the years I spent doing that was the most fulfilling for me personally. I continued my education and became a training officer helping newcomers enter the medical field. My medical career progressed, and I became a hospital administrator, leading large teams of healthcare professionals. I eventually accepted a position as a consultant, traveling throughout the United States, and helping other medical facilities run their healthcare programs. 


In 2014, a colleague of mine, Dr. Bob Dalrymple, asked me if I would join him in establishing a medical cannabis company in Nevada. It took a bit of soul searching, introspection, and courage, as cannabis is federally illegal, and we would conceivably be risking our careers. However, after researching the true medical benefits of the plant’s compounds, we decided to create the company NBS, Inc. 


I recall one of our first patients was a young girl with a severe seizure disorder. She was unable to go more than a few hours without an episode. Her parents had tried traditional medicine for years, and it was not working well and had unmanageable side effects. Through trials and adjustments, we were able to create a pure organic cannabis oil that safely reduced the number of seizures she was experiencing. This significantly improved her quality of life. Our whole team cried tears of joy the day we got a call from her parents telling us that she had gone a full day without a single seizure. I could go on for hours with similar stories about patient outcomes like hers that make this amazing journey entirely worth it.

Tell us about the moment you made your discovery on the terpene’s health properties and the same component that you found in the agave?

At NBS we use organic carbon processes called Critical Temperature Pressure C02 extraction to produce the medicinal-grade cannabis oil. We further refine it with steam distillation, filters, and other processes to isolate the different flavonoids, polyphenols, and other Cannabinoid compounds found in the cannabis plant. Yes, it is as complicated as it sounds, but it can yield a pure medicinal oil that is beneficial to patients. Based on the studies from Israel and other progressive countries, and our own clinical research, we became very familiar with the benefits of each compound within the cannabis plant as well as other botanicals, in particular the terpenes. 


Terpenes are naturally occurring aromatic compounds found in most plant species around the world. Although recent research has focused on terpenes found in the cannabis plant, they are also found in thousands of other plant varieties such as conifers, tea, thyme, sage, citrus fruits, and even agave.


Terpenes are attributed to the scent and the taste of plants; however, they also have individual health benefits. For example, pinene is a terpene found in pine trees that are known to benefit bronchial function. Linalool is a terpene found in the lavender plant which has calming and anti-anxiety properties. The team’s “ah-hah” moment regarding the power of the terpenes came when we learned that our young patient with a seizure disorder experienced insomnia from the oil. We increased the level of myrcene, which is a terpene known for its sedative and relaxing effects. This worked better than expected, and she has less trouble sleeping now. 


Individual terpenes have very powerful properties, and it is important to know how they interact with each other. This is known as the entourage effect, and it is important because terpenes influence each other; for example, some terpenes assist each other and intensify effects, while others counteract desired effects. From the culinary perspective, it is important to understand how these scents and tastes interact and influence each other as well. This is where my wife and her family come into the picture. They are a passionate group of spirits aficionados, mixologists, chefs, foodies, and artists. They have years of experience in the food and beverage industry and have an amazing understanding and grasp of how scents and flavors work. 


Much like the entourage effect, smells and tastes can work in harmony to create beautiful flavors or can clash with each other. Having a sophisticated palate and solid understanding of how individual flavors influence each other, combined with a profound knowledge of how spirits are distilled, led to a perfectly natural progression into the tequila world. This passion to create pure, organic products combined with the knowledge of the team led us to El Sativo tequila. 


I have always been conscientious about the environment and how our activity affects the planet. This is another aspect we focused on when we moved into the tequila world. To that end, El Sativo is organic, kosher, additive-free, non-GMO, 100% Blue Weber Agave tequila made the way purists have been doing it for decades. We honor the tradition and methods used by our distillers for generations. Our plants are “Single Estate” grown in the valley of the tequila volcano, in Jalisco, Mexico. Our agaves are grown, nurtured, and harvested organically in our fields and never sourced. We never use harmful pesticides or fungicides. We use organic fertilizers and harvest by hand. We slowly steam our blue agaves in small-batch stone ovens for up to 72 hours. No autoclaves. No diffusers. We ferment with naturally occurring yeast and ensure the process is accomplished in a green and environmentally friendly way. Our bottles are made from recycled glass, our labels are compostable, and with every bottle sold we give back to the Ocean Conservancy charity.

Can you share with us what those benefits are? Is tequila also an anti-depressant? Or the only alcohol that is not a depressant? 

Tequila is associated with fun and uplifting, good times and is often referred to as the only stimulant spirit; however, all distilled spirits contain alcohol, which is classified as a depressant. Perhaps it is considered an upper because we have all heard, (or maybe had) those stories about the energizing good times enjoyed while drinking tequila. Tequila is considered a healthier spirits choice because it contains fewer calories, and the natural sugars “Agavins” found in tequila are non-digestible like fiber and do not raise your blood sugar levels. 


Organic tequila has lower levels of impurities, and agave contains saponin compounds, which might have anti-inflammatory properties. Anecdotally, this means that consuming saponin in tequila may potentially reduce inflammation, but there is no solid science backing that statement. In short, tequila is the fun spirit that you have always known, and the “purer the better” when it comes to consumption. 


Our goal was to create the perfect ultra-premium sipping tequila, and I think we achieved it. We were so proud to win the “Best in Class” and the double gold medal from the most prestigious “San Francisco World Spirits Competition” because it is a blind taste test, which is a pure and honest assessment of the juice itself. 

What led you to believe you could keep moving forward while reaching for that next achievement?

Once a path has been chosen as worthy, you can become unstoppable. Tenacity is a trait that I really value and has always been the thing that leads me to success.


I can’t recall a specific event during my journey, but there have been plenty of challenges that shook my confidence and tested my tenacity. I truly believe that once you decide on your goal, you will find a way to get there. The power is in the decision! There will always be naysayers and obstacles along the way. The beauty of the entrepreneurial spirit is that you thrive on the uncertainty and consider it an adventure. Knowing how to do something is generally not as important as knowing that you are going to do it. 


The trick to staying motivated, for me, is to be an “out of the box” thinker. I don’t compete with others so much as I compete with my last best achievement. Another good practice is to celebrate your successes, so I take the time to have mini award ceremonies inside my head when I accomplish a goal; it keeps me moving forward. I always want a ticket to the next red-carpet event in my head.

What was the most impactful experience during the climb to the next level of your product success?

COVID-19 had an incredible impact on us, as it did most people. We initially planned to launch on Earth Day (2020), but due to COVID-19, we were unable to bring our shipment in on time. We had to push everything back. There are a lot of moving parts when you are launching a new brand, so it is complicated even without COVID. Logistics were a mess because most offices and businesses were closed. Everything from the trucking and regulatory agencies to advertising companies, etc. was disrupted. This challenge forced us to change our original “on-premises” marketing strategy for restaurants and bars due to closures. Fortunately, we have team members who specialized in off-premises and chain store venues, so we were able to pivot to that different strategy quickly. This new strategy helped us place El Sativo with large corporations such as Costco, Total Wine, and Whole Foods. This led to explosive growth in our first year, and it has been an overwhelming success. 

Bob Summers

What are the goals for your company in 2022?

The desire for our product is off the charts and we can barely keep up with current demand. Fortunately, we planned for this, and in 2022 we will more than double our capacity with a new distillery. We also increased our agave field and plant volume back in 2018, which will support future growth. Our goal for 2022 is to increase shelf pull as we launch our product in 6-10 new states. Currently, we are available in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Rhode Island, Georgia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Indiana, Illinois, and Minnesota.


This year we expect to launch in the following states: Florida, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Michigan.


We have an amazing team. This makes pushing the product forward much easier. Everyone on the team has the same vision, passion, and desire for the product and the product’s legacy. We’ve spent the first year creating and developing the perfect tequila and the second year doing guerilla marketing. This year, we are focusing more energy on traditional and digital venues to increase that shelf pull and international reach. 


There are a lot of celebrity-based tequilas dominating the social media space currently. This means that, in order for us to occupy some of that space without major celebrity endorsement, we need to reach out to a variety of influencers to get our message out. At El Sativo we say, “Our Tequila IS the Celebrity” because our product accolades make us famous. 


So, this year, keep a lookout for us on your social media, TV show, movie, or billboard, and definitely give us a try!  Also, I will let you in on a little secret, we are working on a specialty cask version of our Añejo which is completely unique and beautiful. It will be available in late 2022/early 2023, and it is going to be amazing!


When I continually put myself into new situations by choosing interesting and challenging paths, I force myself to grow new muscles and skillsets. 


I use this new knowledge to make me a better person and continue to focus on growing with purpose. I try to keep that mindset as I progress forward. This helps me think of the challenges and setbacks as less negative/more positive. Just like in the gym, when you’re doing those last few reps of weight, you have to remind yourself that you’re doing it to progress, and although it may not be pleasant now, the benefits of being fit outweigh the challenge of the moment. 


One of the things I recommend is to have a purpose that includes your explanation of:
Why do you do it… For us, it is the love and art of making such a wonderful product that brings so much joy to others.


And: How you give back… For us, it is all about being Earth-friendly. We use recycled glass, we use organic practices, and source responsibly. Every bottle sold gives money back to support ocean conservancy.

What is your favorite “Motto”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Can’t never did anything.”


My mom used to say that when I was young and lamenting about having to do my chores. She still says it to this day whenever I am whining about a challenge, although I do keep my room clean now. The moral is you can always find a way to make success happen. 


Expect to be pushed out of your lane quite often. Knowing many rivers feed one lake, there is always a path to success. Being an out-of-the-box thinker really helps you find that path, even if it takes making an entirely new river to create that lake.


I recall back in 2000, my wife and I found a perfect plot of land on top of a hill where we wanted to build our dream home. There were so many challenges because access to the home was “impossible” according to the city, fire department, neighbors, and every contractor that we spoke to. 


Every naysayer told me that they couldn’t build the house, so I decided to create the path myself. I became my own general contractor and all subcontractors. I built the entire house myself by researching and learning how to complete every aspect of the home build. I would do one trade section and then call an expert in that field and have them check my work. I did the same throughout the whole project with plumbing, electrical, drywall, etc. until I had the entire home built. It took several years, and it was definitely not easy. The naysayers and the challenges were many, but I kept pushing forward knowing what I wanted, and just learned how to do it along the way. Sometimes it felt like I had jumped out of the plane and was building my parachute while I fell. There were good and bad days, of course. Today, my wife and I still live in our beautiful dream home on the hill. It was my tenacity and my, “Can’t never did anything” motto that led me through that adventure and continues to drive me today.

How can our readers follow you and find your tequila?

El Sativo Tequila
Website: www.elsativo.com 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elsativotequila/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Elsativotequila/
YouTube Cocktails: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtGRntfnRHHzIw7xEjINnOw/featured 
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-summers-ph-d-2a21001a/

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