Tequila and mezcal brands to watch in 2020By Nicola Carruthers
The growing popularity of Tequila has attracted endorsement from stars such as Rita Ora and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, while a number of big players entered the mezcal market in 2019. We predict the brands that will shine in the next 12 months.
The Tequila category is hot right now and is set to continue its success into 2020. The volume of Tequila and mezcal is forecast to increase by 4.7% to 40.7m nine‐litre cases next year, up from 38.9m.
“The market for Tequila has seen a surge over the past few years – consumption of premium Tequila has continued to lead the growth of agave‐based spirits as a whole, and this is set to continue,” predicts Matthew Sykes, senior director, global marketing at Patrón Tequila, which was acquired by Bacardi last year.
Christophe Prat, vice‐president of Tequila at Pernod Ricard, maker of the Olmeca and Altos Tequila brands, said the category has two key opportunities: “Demand for premium drinks and consumer interest in provenance and heritage.”
Celebrities are also playing a role in raising the profile of agave spirits, with the likes of basketball star Michael Jordan, singers Rita Ora and Nick Jonas, and actor Charlie Sheen jumping on the Tequila bandwagon. Breaking Bad actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul also moved into mezcal with the launch of Dos Hombres.
It also seems that the category is finding favour in mixed drinks. A survey by Patrón in July found that 65% of UK drinkers choose to drink Tequila in cocktails rather than as a shot. This trend is also prevalent across the pond, as Prat says: “The rise of modern mixology in the US – and the growth of cocktail consumption globally – has facilitated the number of Tequila drinkers swapping shots for premium cocktails.”
Tina Ingwersen‐Matthiesen, member of the Borco board and part of the Borco family, believes that “cocktail culture will continue to flourish” and extend to a variety of drinks. She also says that Tequila and food pairings will come to the fore as consumers seek “new taste experiences”.
Despite the category’s phenomenal growth, Tequila still faces a challenge from the agave shortage and higher prices. Mantas Zlatkus, global brand director of Rooster Rojo Tequila at Amber Beverage Group, says that companies are under pressure as prices rise and he believes that it will be harder for smaller producers to survive.
Education is also a challenge for the category. “The lack of knowledge around Tequila is a challenge and limit that the category has faced for a long time,” explains Sykes. Ingwersen‐Matthiesen adds: “There is still a long way to go in terms of education. The change of consumers’ perception is a slow process.”
Mezcal continues to be popular in the US, where consumption of the agave‐based spirit grew by 32.4% in 2018, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. April 2019 saw US drinks group Constellation Brands take a minority stake in Los Angeles‐based Mezcal El Silencio, with plans to elevate its infrastructure and growth.
Click through the following pages to see which brands we believe are ones to watch in the year ahead.
Since its acquisition by Bacardi in April 2018, the brand has released a number of line extensions and increased production with a new barrel room that will drive innovation in its aged Tequila portfolio.
Bacardi is also focused on increasing the brand’s presence in the on‐trade, launching a Day of the Dead initiative with more than 200 UK venues this year, and a partnership with the European Bartender School.
Campari Group recently purchased a controlling stake in the brand – marking its entry into the “premium and high‐performing mezcal category”. The acquisition will see the firm focus on the US market.
The brainchild of film star and former wrestler Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Teremana Tequila is set to launch next year. Johnson has had his Tequila plans in the works since 2018 and numerous posts on his social media pages suggest he is seriously committed to the brand. He is also one of the few celebrities who is opening their own distillery.