The worm may turn – but not in this Ottawa couple’s Mexican-distilled tequila

Sandeep and Riti Gupta
Ottawa couple Riti and Sandeep Gupta insist marketing their own brand of tequila isn’t a hobby but a potential big business they hope to build. Photo courtesy Sandeep and Riti Gupta

There are no worms in Cada Dia tequila – ever! So don’t bother shaking the bottle and peering into the bottom.

Sandeep and Riti Gupta, the Ottawa couple who developed the premium brand of tequila manufactured in Mexico, turn up their noses and make utter sounds of disgust when the question is even asked.

But it had to be put out there by an uncouth reporter who always cheerily pictured a pickled worm sloshing around in the tequila bottle, perhaps adding a sense of adventure.

“Maybe in rougher, cheaper tequilas,” Riti allows disdainfully, “but not in ours.” Sandeep nods in agreement.

Anyone thinking of the wormy, rotgut tequila of their youth – as was this reporter – is in for a tasty surprise. Cada Dia is described as exhibiting classic notes of oak, chocolate, agave, orange, baking spice and caramel, with a long-lasting finish. Riti is the first to admit the experience could differ among consumers depending on individual taste buds.

So what is an Ottawa couple doing packaging and promoting an alcoholic beverage that can only legally be produced under the name tequila in certain regions of Mexico where its main ingredient, the agave plant, can be found in fibrous abundance?

Healthy spirit

Sandeep has a day job as an engineer and Riti as an IT strategist. Still, they insist marketing their own brand of tequila isn’t a hobby but a potential big business they hope to build.

Speaking over Zoom for the usual COVID reasons, the Guptas recall regular holidaying in Mexico, which drew them closer to the atmosphere and customs of that country and to the local food and spirits, particularly tequila, which eventually bumped out Sandeep’s Scotch preference.

Describing tequila as the healthiest of spirits, Riti says the couple realized there was an opportunity to introduce a quality brand to the market at a reasonable price point, one reflecting the Guptas’ mantra of living each day to the fullest. They reached an agreement with a master Mexican distiller and for two years have been selling Cada Dia, even through the pandemic.

Appropriately, the distillery is in the Town of Tequila, State of Jolisco, the alleged birthplace of the drink. The agave used is about eight years old, slow-cooked in stone ovens for 40 hours and distilled twice. It’s then aged for eight months in charred oak whisky barrels.

Expansion in mix

Packaged in a clear, crisp bottle decorated with a stylized hummingbird, Cada Dia – which means “every day” – sells for $89.95 per 750-millilitre bottle at 70 LCBO outlets in Ottawa and beyond, which is right about the midpoint in tequila pricing. It can also be purchased at several area bars to be knocked back neat – which the Guptas recommend for full flavour – or in cocktails.

While bars and restaurants were often closed during the crazy times of COVID, government liquor stores remained open, with consumers staying home and experimenting with different beverages, including tequila. Sales of the spirit are projected to reach $6 billion worldwide by the end of 2025.

They prefer not to specify production numbers, but the Guptas say they came close to selling out their first small batch in three months. The brand is now available in 40 restaurants across Ontario and has been launched in 34 states south of the border.

As for expansion, the Guptas plan to pay the notoriously high fees to get their product on additional LCBO shelves. Longer-term, they hope to introduce a tequila blanco to the mix, as well as a tequila anejo. The blanco isn’t barrel-aged, while the anejo is aged for at least a year and the Cada Dia reposado now offered by the Guptas is somewhere in between.

And not a worm to be seen!