High-end Tequilas

high end tequilaIt’s not too early to start Cinco de Mayo preparations, and offering high-end tequilas should be part of your plan. Whether it’s for sipping, shooters, or Margaritas, tequila popularity growth in the U.S. is noteworthy. That growth is predominantly spurred by high-end and premium tequilas.

A study by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) shows that U.S. imports of tequila have grown 83 percent since 2002, with 2013 recording the high-water mark of over 13 million nine-liter cases imported.

High-end premium and super premium tequilas drove the increases with growth percentages at 178.4 and 481.8 percent, respectively. Revenues mirror those growth percentages (192.6% and $455.9%) as well.

A Tequila Primer

Tequila is made from blue agave, generally found outside of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco, but by law, it can also be produced in four other Mexican states, according to
The 18 Best Tequilas in the World,” published by Men’s Journal. The first step in a great tequila is to be 100% agave with no additives.

The agave heart, or piña, is cooked and crushed, and the extracted juice is fermented and distilled. The result, voilà (or make that olé), is tequila. Aging the tequila creates the variations. Clear (blanco) comes directly from the still. The golden reposada is aged in oak barrels from two to twelve months. Aging from one to three years creates dark añejo, and extra-añejo ages for longer than three years. The latter is relatively new on the market.

Tequila Growth Rates

Ann Stickler, Brown-Forman’s global marketing director of tequila brands Herradura and el Jimador, said, “If you look at the sheer numbers in the U.S., it’s just an amazing growth opportunity for us. We’ve had double digit growth rates, and last year was particularly phenomenal for Herradura.” (Quoted in The Spirits BusinessTequila Steps Up Its Luxury Image.”) It also goes well beyond being 100% agave as she continued to explain, “There’s a lot more to it than being 100% agave and we can tell the story of how our tequilas are roasted in clay ovens and involve natural fermentation – and how painstaking and careful we are with that process.”

Patrón claims to be the world’s top-selling ultra-premium tequila according to communications director, Greg Cohen.

Cinco de Mayo Tequila Sales

Cinco de Mayo is possibly a bigger celebration in the U.S. than in Mexico, and sales increases of tequila on that day seem to support that contention. DISCUS reported that sales more than doubled based on data collected in 2011 and 2012 (“Tequila Sales Double on Cinco de Mayo”).

Overall, tequila accounted for eight percent of total spirits sales; however, that more than doubled on Cinco de Mayo to 18 percent. The classic Margarita accounted for 27 percent of cocktails sales but ballooned to 42 percent on the holiday.

It doesn’t matter if you plan to offer Margaritas or neat high-end tequilas, definitely plan to make tequila the star on May 5th and boost your bottom line.