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Mike Dolan: Tequila shake-out needed

Mijenta co-founder Mike Dolan believes there should be a “shake-out” of Tequila brands as many “don’t have any reason to exist”.

Mike Dolan (pictured left) says Tequila brands need a real point of differentiation

The former Bacardi CEO said that Tequila brands need a real point of differentiation to exist. Mijenta Tequila, for example, is artisanally made and additive free – something that Dolan says is “very rare”.

On a potential shake out of Tequila brands, he said: “A friend of mine at a conference in New York, he does a newsletter on alcohol and beverages. He told me ‘the rumour is there will be a shake out in Tequila brands and he said what do you think?’ I said there should be.

“A lot of them don’t have any reason to exist. It’s just an actress, a TikTok star. It’s trivial. People are not buying it. They are not drinking. A lot of these fancy brands there’s no turnover. They sell one bottle and no one asks for it.

“I think there has to be a rationale on what you’re doing. What’s your point of differentiation? Is there a reason for the brand to exist? It also takes a lot of expertise, compared to say gin and vodka – you could make those in your bathtub, people used to make them in the bathtub – you can’t make Tequila in your bathtub. It’s much more complicated, it’s risky and hard to make. You need people that really know what they’re doing. Unless you’re plugged into that sphere with master blenders, distillers, it’s hard for a novice to find a way.”

Tequila growth outside of the US

Though the market for Tequila outside the US is much smaller – 80% of Tequila made is consumed in the US, Dolan is looking internationally, to “incredible” markets like London and Dubai, which he pinpoints as the next breakthrough places for the spirit.

He said: “There’s an enormous high-end market in London and Dubai, but underneath that, it has not yet developed. In the US there’s a strong market right underneath that – it hasn’t yet developed in the UK or other parts of the world. These places are very hot; hot bars, hot restaurants. It’s the same kind of international clientele that’s going.

Mijenta took its ultra-premium añejo to the UK

“What we are doing is seeding the best locations. And what we believe is gonna happen is that people who are down here [in London] experimenting with cheaper Tequilas will gradually come up. They will look for better and better versions of Tequilas.

“What you get to is an expansion of this world – that expands and this expands – and this creates a second-tier for premium Tequila. We think that will happen in the next couple of years in London and the UK, and also in other markets like Spain. Spain is probably the second biggest market for Tequila outside of the US.”

Mijenta’s Añejo Gran Reserva came out in the US last year, and Dolan says the brand sold every bottle it made in a month. “We completely mis-estimated the demand for the product.

“Now we’re catching up to what we think the demand is. We were surprised there was so much demand for US$200 Tequila. People who buy it want to have the best.”

The brand recently debuted the ultra-premium añejo expression in the UK.

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