Cousins Thomas Rhett and Jeff Worn are Mixing Country Music, Pecans, and Tequila

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Dos Primos Tequila, which means “two cousins” in Spanish, was started by, well, two cousins — country music singer Thomas Rhett and Jeff Worn, CEO of the South Georgia Pecan Company. In 2019,  Rhett and Worn set out to craft a great blanco, which they introduced in 2021; a reposado came in 2022, and starting in March 2023, their newly launched añejo will hit shelves.

VinePair talked with the pair to understand why they ventured into tequila, how the spirit combines with country music and pecans, and what they think about the phrase “celebrity tequila.”

1. What drew you to tequila in the first place?

Thomas Rhett: Because we drink tequila. (laughs)

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Jeff Worn: It was Lauren, Thomas Rhett’s wife; I’d always drank vodka soda. Lauren started introducing us to tequila soda, and I really liked it more. As Thomas Rhett and I got older, we started talking about what we could do together, and tequila was the natural fit.

T: My wife has always loved tequila, and I’ve always been kind of a bourbon guy, Jeff as well. But about six years ago we were out in Colorado, we had gone to a restaurant the night before, and Jeff and I ended up tasting a lot of different tequilas. We had been talking a ton about what kind of company we could start together. We woke up the next morning and we were like “dang, man, what if we started a tequila company? Who cares if it never gets big; what if we started something together that we like and our families liked?”

J: Thomas and I both really value quality and how things are made. My family is in the pecan shelling business, and you always get out what you put in. There’s no great pecan that comes out of the plant that wasn’t a great pecan when it came in the plant. We were really looking for something that required skill, practice, and experience to make.

2. Coming from pecans and country music, what was the biggest learning hurdle trying to step into tequila?

J: I’ve always been more on the manufacturing side with pecans, and Thomas has all this experience in marketing. There were times where we would be having conversations, and I’d point out when we couldn’t do something, like the cloth label that’s on the bottle. I think more technically — like trying to print on a cloth label is going to bleed, or it’s going to be coming off in a cooler. Thomas constantly pushed us to say, we’ll figure out how to not make it come off in a cooler. Him having that whole side of his brain and me having that experience — plus partnering with the folks that we did (Rodolfo Gonzalez and Destiladora Gonzalez Lux) — that took this to the next level.

T: I feel like anything Jeff and I do, we become connoisseurs of, whether that’s hunting, fishing, skiing. Whatever it is, we do our research on the things that we’re passionate about. And when it came to tequila, I felt like I knew exactly how it was made, but it was different when we actually got to go down to Jalisco, met with the Gonzalez family, and got involved in the process of harvesting agave. I can bench a little bit of weight and I’m sitting there with that coa (a tool to harvest agave) on the ground and I’m like, “Dude, this thing weighs a million pounds!”

One of my favorite parts of this tequila business has been introducing our product to our friends on the road, people at shows, or family — and then being able to explain to them when they ask, “Why is this one darker and this one clear?” It’s great being able to take them through that process, because I’ve experienced it firsthand.

3. Why do you think country music has become so synonymous with tequila?

T: Yeah, especially in the last five years. I would say 10 years ago, you never really heard the word “tequila” in a country song, maybe “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” but that’s it. (laughs) But then Dan + Shay had the song “Tequila.” People are starting to drop tequila brand names into songs; they’re saying “tequila and Sprite” rather than “Jack and Coke.” For me, I’ve always been a big bourbon drinker, and if you were to ask me a decade ago, I would say bourbon and country music went hand in hand. But when I started to drink nice tequila — not like what I was drinking in college — I started to realize that tequila is amazing! So now, when I’m sitting listening to old country, Waylon Jennings or Merle Haggard, where it used to be a neat pour of whiskey, now it’s a reposado. It is pretty wild to watch the amount of people that are coming out of concerts drinking tequila, and it’s very cool.

4. How do you handle doing tequila tastings with fans at shows or meet-and-greets?

T: Whenever I’m either making a drink for someone or telling them about my product and they ask, “Can I taste it?” I’m like, “Yes, but I need you to taste it by itself first.” I’ll pour a teaspoon of the blanco or the reposado and have them try it because I think a lot of people are freaked out to try any kind of liquor by itself. For whiskey, it’s, “I want to do whiskey and Coke” or with tequila, they want a Margarita or tequila and soda. But I love to taste things in their natural state before I taste it in something that is mixed. And so I’ll usually pour a little teaspoon of our tequila and say, “Sip this, swish it around your mouth, swallow it, breathe it in, what do you taste?” And then I’ll make a Margarita, because I do think it’s cool to know that what you love in your mixed drink, you also love to have neat.

5. What made you decide to expand the brand to include a reposado and now an añejo?

T: We probably spent too much time making sure that our blanco was exactly what Jeff and I wanted to drink. But we knew that if we could get our blanco perfect, our reposado was going to be off the charts. And we knew that if the reposado was great, then the añejo was going to make you freak out.

We tasted our reposado at one month, two months, four months, six months, and I kind of wanted to keep going all the way to 12. But for me, when I write a song, I instinctively know that it has hit potential. For Jeff, he’ll know when it’s a great batch of pecans, because he’s been doing it for so long. And so when we tasted the reposado at six months, it was like, that’s the reposado. Let’s go. And the same thing with the añejo.

J: When we were going through the process for our blanco, we watched other brands come out. It really made us remain focused on what our goal was and say, “We set out to create an awesome blanco; let’s not rush to the finish line here.” As we went through the process, we really became more and more confident in what we were doing.

6. What’s been the most unexpected part about this whole tequila journey?

T: That it’s working! I know that this story has been told a million times at least, but I vividly remember being on this ski lift in Telluride thinking, man, if we could just make something that you and I and our best buddies back home thought was great. What a win for us to journey on something new together.

I hate the term “celebrity tequila.” Yes, I sing music. And yes, Jeff is a big celebrity in Valdosta, Ga. But there’s something very cool about getting to introduce this product on the road, doing tastings before my concerts, and legitimately getting to explain the process. And when people taste it, they smile and say, “It’s smooth,” like they’re surprised. It’s great that people are drinking Dos Primos not because of the names attached to it, but because it’s good. I don’t think that me and Jeff five years ago would have ever dreamed that we’d be talking to you about our product. And so to me, that is the most surprising part.

J: Recently, I was quail hunting and got paired with a guy that I’d never met; didn’t know me. At the end of the day, we were talking and I mentioned my cousin and I had a tequila company. He asked the name and turns out, he had just ordered our tequila for this fundraiser he was hosting.

Sometimes when Thomas and I are caught up in the hustle and bustle of this company, it’s easy to forget where it came from and how legit this company is now. This is such a dream to us, and it’s crazy to hear people that we’ve never met actively going out and buying Dos Primos. That’s what we always aimed to achieve. It’s not a celebrity tequila, it was just a tequila — he just happens to be a celebrity.

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