Tequila expresses itself

07 November, 2016

But the repositioning of tequila goes way beyond celebrity endorsement, involving a great deal of behind-the-scenes work by the brand owners. Diageo’s Aldana says Don Julio has invested in mentorship schemes, participation at festivals and large cultural events, and is offering sampling and telling stories.

“We have 1942-era trucks that go across the US. That’s the same vehicle Don Julio used to drive when going through the agave fields.

We also have an Airstream speakeasy with cocktails on draught to help consumers understand the spirit better.

For the trade we have an event called Farm to Shaker. Bartenders go into ranches or farms and go harvesting and collecting different fruits and we tell them the story. We have a team of brand ambassadors driving knowledge.”

For El Jimador soccer sponsorship in the US is a marketing focus: “We’re targeting the millennial consumer who doesn’t necessarily follow major sports, looking at soccer as not mainstream,” says Grindstaff.

“They’re independently minded so open to things such as tequila. We are working a lot with bartenders to help them understand the category so they understand the process and pass it on.”


And there’s the route that is driving awareness most outside of tequila’s Mexico and US heartland – the on-trade and cocktails.

John Tichenor, VP global brand director for Brown-Forman’s Herradura, expands: “The resurgence of classic cocktails, craft cocktails and premium shots is driving tequila consumption in the US. A large piece of this trend is seen with super-premium shots and premium Margaritas. Additionally, 100% agave silvers are currently outpacing the rest of tequila expressions, with trends indicating that consumers are leaving the mixto categories and entering the 100% agave, silver categories – in both the premium and super-premium spaces.

“Furthermore, reposados and anejos are enjoying remarkable success, as consumers are becoming more aware of tequila expressions and seeking flavour taste profiles from barrel-aged products. This trend aligns with other industry trends, such as whiskey and other full-flavoured products.

“Silver is bringing consumers into the category and stealing share from other categories, such as vodka for example, because of the mixability of craft tequila cocktails and the classic Margarita, which is current contributing to growth in the US.”

Pierre Aymeric-Du Cray, vice president International at Pernod Ricard México, agrees, pointing out: “One cocktail in four sold in the US is a Margarita – that’s 250,000 per hour. It’s the hero drinks in the US and this has helped all the growth and changed the category drastically.”

He continues: “Good tequila is no longer an oxymoron. The versatility of tequila has helped to grow the category – from long drinks to shots – and that explains a lot of the success.

“Bartenders find tequila very interesting to work with. The range of creativity and possibilities are endless.”

Speaking of Pernod Ricard’s Altos brand, created by Dre Masso and the late Henry Besant, Du Cray says it was crafted as “a tequila made by bartenders for bartenders” and as “a third way” of drinking the spirit. He says: “Normally, there are two types of consumers. The first are those who drink poor quality tequila for shots – the spring breakers. The second is the exclusive tequila consumer and celebrity endorsement. We made a choice to go a third way – to create a top tequila with great juice at an affordable price. One that won’t burn your throat or your wallet. We saw a possibility for a tequila to really address the bartender trend. We thought the best way was to ask them.”

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