Why tequila is set to be the spirit of 2023
Would you pay more for tequila than Champagne? Did you see in the New Year with a shot or a flute?
Tequila’s seedy, shot-slamming image is gradually fading away – it’s to be enjoyed slowly, to be appreciated, not simply downed.
Recent figures by Allied Market Research suggest tequila has generated more than$8bn over the last twelve months and is set to rise to $24.10bn by 2031. Tequila sales have grown 70 per cent since last year and it’s in the ascendancy compared to other raw spirits. Premium tequilas are faring particularly well, seeing growth of 133 per cent year-on-year.
“Luxury tequila has to be one of the most exciting and unique categories at the moment,” says Tom Miller, commercial director at Amathus. “We are seeing three players come out on top – two established brands, Don Julio 1942 and Clase Azul, and one newcomer, Tequila Komos.”
There are a number of reasons for this: “Firstly, the quality of these luxury brands is exceptional. Consumers appreciate the craft that goes into producing these spirits and are willing to pay for that higher quality.
“Secondly, while at £100 plus per bottle the pricing may be similar to premium whiskies, the consumption occasion is completely different. Instead of sipping and savouring like a whisky, it is consumed more like a vodka, at higher energy occasions. The bottle doesn’t sit dusty on the back bar for too long and this type of consumption is driving volume growth.
“The bottle designs are also great and drive the ‘I want one of those’ appeal. They are bottles that get people talking and you are proud to have on your table or shelf.”
Supply is the biggest constraint and may be the only thing slowing luxury tequila’s growth. All of these tequilas are produced using blue Weber agave from Jalisco in Mexico. The plant takes 7-10 years to mature and with up to three years of barrel ageing before it’s bottled, so it’s not hard to see why there isn’t a short-term supply fix. This may actually work in luxury tequila’s favour, as scarcity adds to demand and drives up the price.”
Don Julio 1942 tequila was first distilled by Don Julio Estrada in 1942. This tequila is aged for 30 months and has complex flavours with a note of tropical fruit. A Gold Medal winner at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Don Julio 1942 Añejo Tequila was also named one of the Top Trending Tequilas at the 2020 Drinks International Awards. Simply serve neat or pour over a few large cubes of ice.
Clase Azul Reposado is one of the smoothest and most iconic examples one can find. Aged for at least eight months it’s bottled in a beautiful, hand-painted Talavera carafe.
Tequila Komos, meanwhile, represents the marriage of Mexican tradition and Mediterranean lifestyle in a uniquely packaged line of tequilas. Created by industry veteran and master sommelier Richard Betts, Komos offers a personal vision of tequila.
It’s produced from a blanco base using agave from the highlands and lowlands of the tequila farming region. The blanco is then roasted in traditional volcanic stone ovens and the juice fermented with native yeast and then double distilled in pot stills. For the Reposado Rosa expression, the special blanco base is rested for 65 days in French oak red wine barrels to age and soften as it evolves delicate flavours. The rich, unique rosé colour is naturally derived from grape skins, reminiscent of a French rosé.
The Reposado Rosa is then left to rest and aerate, further softening and rounding the palate while imparting a slight impression of sweetness prior to bottling in their handmade iconic designed bottles. Each is then vitrified in porcelain, allowing for zero absorption of water or bacteria, then hand dipped into a reactive glaze that changes when fired in the oven, meaning every bottle is a one-of-a-kind creation.
Other ultra-luxury, collectors’ tequilas include ReySol Anejo (£300), Gran Patrón Burdeos (£500) and Asombroso Del Porto Extra Anejo ( £1,500)
Tequila Aman was founded by Gerardo Madrigal, a former mathematics professor at East Los Angeles College, who developed a love of agave farming and the soils of Nayarit in Mexico while on a family holiday. He began planting agave on a 6.35 hectare plot of land in 2014.
Aman Spirits is said to be the ‘first and only’ operating tequila distillery to be built in Nayarit despite being one of five states that are part of the Denomination of Origin for Tequila.
The Aman tequila portfolio has been crafted by master distiller Hector Dávalos. It includes rosa, reposado, blanco, añejo and cristalino expressions. The añejo expression, known as ‘El Profesor’, won gold at the 2022 Luxury masters blind tasting.
El Profesor Añejo Tequila is made from very ripe and select agaves and aged for a minimum of 12 months in French and American oak barrels.