• Summer

  • How it Began

    Howard Cao, founder of KOKORO Spirits, stumbled upon an old dusty tequila bottle. He popped it open, poured a glass, and was transported from that first sip. He thought of the people and hard work that went into making such a quality tequila, the beautiful regions it was sourced from, and the smell of the blue agave fields. The spirits we drink bring so many people together but with little appreciation for the spirits’ culture and heritage. At that moment, he became inspired to share this experience by gifting high-end spirits to his loved ones.

    KOKORO Spirits soon flourished into a company that curates a collection of innovative premium spirits and a brand that celebrates communities and cultures.


  • Summer

  • Behind the Brand

    Howard’s Midwest influence led us to the moonshine jug. It was iconic and catchy but not indulgent or garish, and it was perfect. We filled the void of our undefined name with handwritten "XXX XXX" on the bottle. To our surprise, the minimalist design complimented the jug so well that we decided to keep it.

    We intend to use the same bottle design across our collection of spirits as a symbol and reminder that it’s not the vessel but what’s inside that matters most. As we took a deeper dive into what that meant, we came across the Japanese expression KOKORO and embraced it as our name.

  • Fall

  • Made with Tradition

    In honor of the spirit that inspired KOKORO, we made tequila our first endeavor. We took a trip down to the highlands of Jalisco and, among the many distilleries, found Destiladora Bonanza; a family-owned distillery with a history of tequila making that dates back to 1886 and focuses on social and environmental responsibility and gender equality. Enchanted by their expertise and initiative, they became our easiest choice as a distillery partner.

    During our visit, our master distiller crafted a tequila specific to her taste. Her insistence on using ancestral techniques to craft an innovative, traditionally-untraditional tequila was a drumbeat we knew we had to follow.


  • Spring

  • Award-Winning Notes

    With the help of our esteemed partnership with Destiladora Bonanza, we tested a variety of formulas to perfect the aromas and flavors. We immersed ourselves in all things tequila and researched all traditional aspects, from growing and harvesting the agave to the tahona method.

    After tasting multiple profiles, our relationship with Bonanza solidified when we independently selected the same tasting notes for our final tequila. We knew then that this would be a tequila that both KOKORO Spirits and Bonanza would be proud to share with the world.

    Once we established a polished expression, we submitted our tequila to the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in March 2019. Our work to achieve a unique and innovative taste did not go unnoticed, as we were awarded a gold medal for our Tequila Plata.

    We didn’t stop there. As the year progressed, we continued exploring and experimenting to attain excellent quality and taste with time-honored techniques.


  • Spring

  • Pushing Through

    The winning of our second gold medal at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirit Competition was quickly overshadowed by the Shelter-In-Place orders for San Francisco. We feared that the pandemic would slow down our launch.

    As we turned to postpone our plans, a serendipitous discovery emerged. A mindfulness practitioner explained that the X on our iconic bottle is a rune symbol for *gebō or "gift,"ultimately fulfilling the meaning behind KOKORO Spirits.

    As the X’s correlated with our founder’s original purpose of gifting, we decided on a model that would bring our spirits straight to your doorstep. Through eCommerce, our efforts to bring people closer and build a community of KOKORO enthusiasts would be fulfilled. 


  • Spring

  • Talking Whisk(e)y

    As the world began to heal, we successfully closed our seed round of Regulation Crowdfunding, raising $140k in funds and adding over 100 investors to our diverse pool of partners. With the world’s status and financial support, we decided it would be best to explore our next spirit within our country's lines. To our delight, an American classic had been ringing in our ears for quite some time: Whiskey. 

    Depending on its region, whiskey is spelled with or without an ‘e.’ While we would start our collection with an American whiskey, we didn’t like the confinement of the spelling. So, we broke the barrier by embracing the ‘e’ with parenthesis to stand as a gateway in expanding our Whisk(e)y collection without limitations or exclusivity. 

    Shortly after discussing whiskey with our advisors, a whiskey expert introduced us to The Spirits Group, a women-owned consulting firm based in Louisville, Kentucky. Eager to meet the team, we set up a zoom call where co-founders Monica Wolf and Ashley Barnes unveiled their deep passion and expertise in the world of whiskey. We partnered with them without a second thought andwere welcomed with an open mind and heart to craft the first whiskey in our Whisk(e)y collection.

  • Fall

  • Building Blueprints

    Under the meticulous care of Monica and Ashley, previous judges at the American Distilling Institute and American Craft Spirits Association spirits competitions, it was evident that quality would be nothing less than perfect.

    Monica, a second-generation whiskey professional, sourced all our premium whiskey barrels. After careful selection, Ashley, the master blender behind many award-winning whiskeys, blended and polished the first samples of our Four-Grain Blended American Whisk(e)y. 

    Our Tequila Plata sold out, validating our concept and making this award-winning tequila our signature spirit. At the next meeting with Destiladora Bonanza, we requested a second batch of Plata and blueprints for a limited-edition tequila. Our Tequila Limitada would take our reputable process a step further by resting our Plata in cooked agave for 10 days.


  • Spring

  • Three in One

    Our hearts were full, and our warehouses were empty, but we planned to release three spirits in 2022 after our first sell-out. 

    Our Whisk(e)y samples arrived in the spring, and like our spirits, we enjoyed them in the company of whiskey experts and close friends. Every sip was truly phenomenal, but one stood out from the rest: a blend of three different whiskeys aged 6-10+ years from four mash bills. We gave Ashley & Monica our stamp of approval. 

    While we finalized our Whisk(e)y expression, our small batch of Tequila Limitada knocked on our door in California and quickly started to make its way to homes across the country. Tasting experts were delighted, and reviews were raving. 

  • Summer

  • Down in Jalisco

    It had been a while since we last met with our partners, and it was time for a much-needed reunion with our friends at Destiladora Bonanza & The Spirits Group. 

    We made our way down to Ojo de Agua de Latillas, Jalisco, with empty barrels. We had the idea to craft a new spirit while reusing the barrels from our whiskey. Destiladora Bonanza poured our Tequila Plata into the barrels and began the aging process. Our Extra Añejo will be another tasting experience that we can’t wait to share.

  • Fall

  • Celebrating in Louisville

    Our second stop was in Louisville, KY, to bottle our long-awaited Whisk(e)y. We got to see the bottling process firsthand and have a few celebratory sips of our whiskey with the Spirits Group and everyone that helped bring this spirit to life.Our Tequila Plata, Tequila Limitada, and Four-Grain American Blended Whisk(e)y arrived just in time for the gift-giving month of December.


  • Winter

  • Top Shelf Spirits

    Our spirits have made it to a few shelves in California, and while we have plans to make our way across the country, our current focus is the west coast. We’re working hard so that you’ll see us at your local stores or bars soon.