Anteel Tequila’s Face of Strength

Co-creator Nayana Ferguson knew that the hardest fight has been fought when she dove into the spirits industry

Anteel Reposado Tequila has won the coveted platinum distinction at the 2021 SIP Awards. Photo courtesy of Anteel Tequila.

The de facto face and voice of Anteel, formerly Teeq Tequila, is one of its Detroit-native creators, Nayana Ferguson. When she was in the early 30s, Nayana was working out and running almost daily. She was training for a marathon, and, to the unknowing eye, looked physically fit — she could keep her heartrate in check and has the discipline and energy to run for miles. And in a check-up, expecting that things would be normal, a doctor found a mass on her pancreas and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When she decided to undergo surgery, she was on the operating table, under the hands of hospital nurses and surgeon, for eight hours. With the success of the surgery, it seemed like one of the life’s biggest hurdle was behind her — but fate had other ideas. A few years later, she had to endure another battle with breast cancer. “I’m a 16-year pancreatic cancer survivor, and a nine-year breast cancer survivor,” Nayana said in a national news interview. “Beating cancer twice really changed my perspective on life, and I knew, if I could do that, I could overcome anything.” And true to the aphorism “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger,” she was only getting started with her life’s work.

Nayana Ferguson, the de facto face and voice of Anteel, spoke in a panel discussion titled “Black Women in the Spirits Industry” the 2022 Essence Festival. Photo courtesy of Anteel Tequila.

As Nayana was a single mom during her pancreatic cancer battle, she found her strength through her daughter. And soon, she also found a place of solace and strength with whom she will soon marry — Don Ferguson. While in the middle of a decision to change careers, “If you could do anything, what would you want to do?” Nayana asked Don. “Open a tequila company,” Don replied. “But we can’t do that.” Being the optimistic — or maybe skeptic — one, Nayana did not think they couldn’t do that. “Why not?” Nayana said. With the wits and confidence of a woman who knows that the worst fight has been fought, she found a distillery who sent them samples which the pair loved. Not content with just a run-of-the-mill tequila, the couple experimented, and created the world’s first coconut-lime white tequila, one of the many flavors Anteel offers. 

Nayana Ferguson (right) with her husband Don Ferguson (left). Photo courtesy of Anteel Tequila.

Today, Anteel offers four variants of their award-winning tequila: blanco (white), reposado (aged), their signature coconut-lime blanco, and the newest blood orange blanco. Held by the discerning pallate of Don and his proudest convert into the tequila-lovers club, Nayana, their spirits has earned several accolades. Anteel Blanco Tequila, in 2021, has won a double gold SIP Awards distinction, an award given by 270 consumers in a blind taste test. It’s perhaps the only spirits competition with a large judging pool coupled with scientifically sound judging process. In the same year, Anteel Reposado Tequila won the prestigous platinum distinction, the second-highest rating for the awards. And with such a distinctive tequila founded, and created in the city of Detroit, we have created the perfect cocktail for you to mix with your own bottle of Anteel’s Reposado. The cocktail Heatwave tastefully lifts the tequila flavor with Mexican staple spices of jalapeños, and chili-lime. Don’t worry. If you’re not into spicy cocktails, you can leave out the jalapeño seed and you’ll have the same distinctively peppery taste without the burning sensation.

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