Two Brothers Honor Their Family Heritage Through the Age-old Tradition of Tequila

More than a spirit.

  • Category
    Eat & Drink, People
  • Written by
    Laura L. Watts
  • Photographed by
    Tameka Jacobs

It all started in Mexico in the late 1800s. Jose Celaya made his first batch of tequila, and the rest was history. His homemade spirit became renowned with his family and friends. Fast-forward 150 years, and Jose’s great-great-grandsons Ryan Kalil and Matt Kalil are carrying on the family legacy with their premium, small-batch tequila company, Celaya Tequila. 

Both were professional football players after attending the University of Southern California. When they retired from the game, they had an opportunity to redirect that energy into something new. They’ve spent the past five years developing their spirit and brand.

“Our attention to detail shows through in everything we do.”

“We started talking about our abuela and her grandfather Jose,” says Matt. “As we were reminiscing, we were inspired. What if we developed a tequila just like our abuela’s grandfather did? What if we built a business around this spirit rooted in our family?”

Celaya Tequila is made from 100% blue Weber agave grown in Jalisco, Mexico. The company offers three types: añejo, blanco and reposado. Blanco is bottled soon after distillation and is agave-forward with crisp notes of citrus and spice. Reposado is deep in flavor and easy to sip, with notes of dried fruits, caramelized sweetness and a spicy oak finish. Añejo is a dark tequila with strong notes of spice and barrel and a smooth, wood finish.

“Our attention to detail shows through in everything we do—from our design and packaging to our service and the flavor of our tequila,” says Matt. “It’s the best-tasting tequila in the market.”

Ryan suggests: “Since tequila can be very personal with each consumer, trying one of our mixed bundles is always a good investment to add to your collection.”

Celaya just partnered with Total Wine, and you can pick up a bottle at their Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Rancho Cucamonga and Pasadena locations, as well as Remedy Liquor in Glendale. They also offer their tequila online at They will eventually distribute bottles to the entire United States.

“Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable purchasing their alcohol through e-commerce channels,” Matt points out. “Our goal is to advance this trend and reach new consumers throughout the U.S. who want to experience a more refined version of tequila with authentic roots.”

But their tequila surpasses current trends—by a century and a half! “For us, tequila is much more than a spirit,” says Matt. “It’s woven into the fabric of our history. It is our passion to learn, understand and honor our abuela and her grandfather through the pursuit of our own tequila.”

The brothers are proud of their Mexican heritage, and they are just as proud to be the owners of a SoCal company. They want to get the word out to their South Bay neighbors. “We love where we live, and we want other locals to be proud of what we’re doing,” says Ryan.

We know old Jose would certainly be proud.

Celaya Tequila  |  @drinkcelaya  |  @ryankalil67