While Bourbon, America’s Native Spirit may grab more headlines, its Tequila, Mexico’s Native Spirit that has quietly shifted its reputation from one of “Lick it, Sip it, Suck it” shots to one of “sip and savor” as the high end and super premium spirit category has exploded over the last 15 years.
Americans Can’t Get Enough Tequila
Over the past decade, tequila has shifted from the traditional frozen margarita to luxury tequila offerings served in artisan cocktails, neat or on the rocks, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.
One of the keys to tequila’s U.S. growth has been distiller’s ability to offer a product for every budget and occasion. By offering both well aged High End and Super Premium products, as well as affordable Value brands, Tequila is accessible to all Americans.
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The Council reports that since 2002, tequila volumes have grown 121%, an average rate of 5.8% per year. In 2016 alone, 15.9 million 9-lite cases were sold. The high end premium and super premium tequila categories have skyrocketed 292% and 706% in the last 15 years.
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“A common trend we’re seeing across the entire spirits sector is strong interest in super premium products,” said Distilled Spirits Council Director of Public Relations Kelley McDonough.
“Tequila fits nicely in this consumer trend with the many sophisticated sipping tequilas in the marketplace today. Tequila is no longer only associated with celebrations such as Cinco de Mayo or enjoyed in pre-batched frozen margaritas at a beach bar,” McDonough added.
In addition to the introduction of luxury tequilas, cocktail culture also has played an important role in elevating the category.
Nick Bennett, head bartender at Porchlight, the first stand-alone cocktail bar by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), explained, “One of the main reasons we are in this golden era of cocktails is because there was a desire to move away from the sugary, syrupy drinks.”
Bennett continued, “That is no longer the case now that there are luxury tequilas with 100 percent agave helping to focus our energies into natural flavors and cleaner spirits, which shine in a simple cocktail.”
U.S. Tequila Volumes by Price Category
(9-Liter Cases, 000)
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U.S. Tequila Supplier Revenues
Gross Revenues Including FET (millions)
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Data Source: Distilled Spirits Council, Economic & Strategic Analysis Dept. – Feb 2017