Tequila and mezcal brands to watch in 2022By Kate Malczewski
Agave spirits such as Tequila and mezcal have entered the upper echelons of the sector, driven by interest in celebrity-backed labels and luxury expressions. Here we present the brands that will aid the category’s ascent next year.
*This feature was originally published in the December 2021 issue of The Spirits Business magazine.
The world has developed a seemingly unquenchable thirst for Tequila over the past few years, and demand for the spirit has continued to rise. According to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, the Tequila category climbed by 9.6% in 2020, led by sales in the US, where Tequila has overtaken rum as the third‐largest spirits category after vodka and whisky.
“Tequila demand has been on the increase for several years as consumers become more educated on the category,” says Steffin Oghene, vice‐president global marketing and business development at El Tequileño. Oghene points to the spirit’s “mixed evolution” over the past year, with 2020’s rapid off‐premise growth slowing in 2021, but giving way to rising on‐trade sales as venues reopen.
Meanwhile, Bacardi‐owned Patrón Tequila experienced “the highest volume [sales] that we’ve ever seen” in 2021, says Kathy Parker, the brand’s global chief marketing officer. She notes that consumers are clocking onto the versatility of the category, helping it expand beyond Margaritas and shots. “A blanco Tequila can easily sub for a vodka soda, and a reposado or añejo can be swapped for whiskey in an Old Fashioned,” she explains.
The mounting wave of celebrity‐supported Tequila brands has also contributed to the category’s popularity, with reality TV star Kendall Jenner and singer Adam Levine among the famous faces joining the sector this year. “The introduction of celebrity-backed Tequilas has driven much category vibrancy and has played an integral role in bringing Tequila to the top of the market,” says Parker.
But some Tequilas backed by notable names have created challenges for the category by raising questions about quality and transparency, she says. “A fair amount of these celebrity‐backed brands stray from the foundations that traditional brands have built upon over the past decades.”
The immense growth of the category has presented roadblocks too, as agave farmers struggle to keep up with demand and the prices of raw materials increase. Even so, brands see further opportunities to expand their reach through product innovation and increased focus on markets outside the US and Mexico.
Mezcal has also attracted new drinkers, with production volumes rising by 9.8% in 2020, according to the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal (CRM), one of the spirit’s certifying bodies.
Investments and acquisitions have fostered interest, with Constellation Brands taking a stake in Dos Hombres, the brand founded by actors Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston, and Diageo’s purchase of Mezcal Unión. But conflict over leadership in the CRM, and disputes over which organisations can certify mezcal, has driven turbulence in the category.
Still, growth is looming for agave spirits: the IWSR forecasts this wider category will rise at a compound annual growth rate of 4.7% from 2021 to 2025, led by the demand for Tequila and mezcal.
Discover our pick of the Tequila and mezcal brands to watch in 2022 below.
Want more category forecasts? We revealed our brands to watch for rum, Cognac and brandy, gin, world whisky, Irish whiskey, American whiskey, Scotch whisky and vodka.
Keeping Up with the Kardashians star Kendall Jenner made headlines when she launched her Tequila brand in May, stirring controversy over claims of culturally appropriative marketing while achieving jaw‐dropping sales. The brand is set for big things in 2022 as it pursues international expansion and continues its partnership with industry charity Sacred Agave.
In August 2021, Diageo agreed to buy Mezcal Unión owner Casa UM. The spirits giant already had a distribution partnership with the brand, but the acquisition signals a new era of growth and expansion as the mezcal is ushered into the Diageo Reserve portfolio.
Volcan De Mi Tierra
Moët Hennessy debuted its first Tequila in the US in 2017. This year, the super‐premium brand made its way to the UK – and it looks like new markets are on the horizon for 2022. “We look forward to further sharing Volcan De Mi Tierra with the world,” says Santiago Cortina Gallardo, Volcan De Mi Tierra COO.