By Chloe Melas, CNN Business
Mark Walhberg is a tequila guy.
It’s not just the actor’s go-to drink of choice, but he’s now invested in a line of tequlia called Flecha Azul, co-founded by Mexican PGA golfer Abraham Ancer and entrepreneur Aron Marquez.
“It’s funny because when it was first mentioned to me I said ‘absolutely not,'” Wahlberg told CNN Business. “You have all these other people out there claiming to have gone to Mexico and created tequila and cultivated agave and all this stuff. They were like, ‘This is not what that is, we have two amazing guys who are really young and like minded.’ … I just said I would love to invest in them.”
The trio partnered during the coronavirus pandemic, with Wahlberg inking a deal last year as the principal investor. And yes, he did take a visit to the brand’s distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, which has been owned and operated by a local family since 1840.
“I said I want to put my money where my mouth is and cut a big check and get involved with your brand and utilize all of my resources … everything that we have we are going to tap into and utilize to make sure this brand is as successful as possible.”
Flecha Azul has five types of tequila: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, Cristalino and Extra Añejo. It’s currently sold in California, Texas, Nevada and Georgia, and plans to launch nationwide later this year.
Ancer said that having Wahlberg come on board was a “no-brainer.”
“It just felt like it was meant to be. He tried Flecha Azul and loved it,” he said. Adding, “our focus was to bring a tequila that’s made the traditional way with no shortcuts. It is extremely important for me to honor my culture and the families that have dedicated their lives to tequila making.”
A crowded space
When it comes to celebrities and tequila, Wahlberg acknowledges that it’s a space that has been occupied by some of Hollywood’s heavyweights. George Clooney and Rande Gerber’s Casamigos sold to Johnnie Walker-owner Diageo in 2017 for up to $1 billion. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson launched Teremana, which last month announced it has sold over 600,000 nine-liter cases. Even Kendall Jenner has her own line, 818.
Wahlberg is unphased by the competition.
“The space is growing thanks to guys like Dwayne who have created a lot of awareness and excitement,” Wahlberg said.
But that’s not stopping Wahlberg from heading for the top.
“We’re coming for everybody’s spot … We plan on being the best because we have the best product out there. It’s the best value proposition for the customer,” he said.
Adding, he’s down to host a tequila-off with Johnson and Clooney.
“I’ve tasted their product, they haven’t tasted mine! Those guys know me very well, they know my competitive spirit!'”
Off screen, Wahlberg has his hand in several businesses, including his line of fitness apparel, Municipal, his family’s “Wahlburger’s” burger chain and investing in fitness company F45 (FXLV).
“If I was going to be doing anything in the spirits space that really reflected my upbringing, my childhood, it would be Irish Whiskey being an Irish Catholic from Boston. But my interest is really to support them and what they’ve created,” Walhberg said.
If you follow Wahlberg on Instagram then you know about his passion for fitness and his early morning workout sessions know as the “4 AM Workout club.” He told CNN Business that tequila fits right into his regimen.
“I was always a wine guy,” he said. “But there’s a lot more sugar, a lot more calorie intake. And to find out that I would have to do a lot less cardio at 50 years old and that tequila was probably the best thing for me to be drinking … when I tried Flecha I was like this is really special, so I’m much more a tequila guy now. But of course everything is in moderation.”
Wahlberg, now an internationally known actor, first stepped on to the scene in the 1990s as a member of the rap group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. He broke into acting with a lead role in the film “Fear” in 1996 and went on to receive acclaim for his next gig as Dirk Diggler in 1997’s “Boogie Nights.”
Now, more than two decades later, he’s been nominated for two Academy Awards, eight Emmy Awards and starred in movies like “The Departed,” “Ted,” and “The Fighter.”
He said this past year has been especially tough.
“It was easy for me to stay positive until I got Covid, and then I experienced a depression and sadness like I’ve never felt,” he said.
He said things took an ever darker turn after the death of his mother, Alma, last April while he was filming his latest project, a movie called “Father Stu.” But he channeled those emotions on screen.
“I lost my mom during the film, even if you live to 100 it’s a very short life so to be able to not only understand that, accept that but embrace that. This is a movie about forgiveness and love, and there’s not a lot out of that in the world.” He calls the project, “the most important film that I’ve ever done.”
Whether it’s movies, tequila or his passion for fitness, Wahlberg is certain about one thing.
“I kind of stick to things I know and understand and am passionate about,” he said. “Everything is about people feeling good, looking good. All things I’m hands on in and I won’t get involved in a space unless I know there’s a very serious adult from that space really leading the charge and heading the business.”
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