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Seesaw effect in Tequila sales as customers trade-up on quality

Published:  27 April, 2016

"Unfairly maligned" Tequila is making a comeback with customers taking a less-but-better approach when it comes to selecting the Mexican tipple.

Anne Jones, category manager for wines, beers and spirits at Waitrose, thinks Tequila is poised find a new foot-hold in the premium occasions category, as sales of high-end Tequila continue to grow.

She said: "Tequila has been unfairly maligned for decades, but now it is perfectly poised to rise from ashes of its own reputation, with some fantastic quality products and burgeoning interest from connoisseurs who honed their palates on fine whisky and rum.

"The lesser-known aged tequilas suit those palates, and have helped to bring expert ambassadors from the hospitality industry on side. In turn, fine silver (or 'plata') tequilas have also raised their game and are now being used in hero cocktail serves in top bars and restaurants."

However, a seesaw effect has marred Tequila's progress, with the spirit's popularity climbing in certain segments but waning in others.

Jones added: "While growth has slowed on standard products and at the lower price points, 100% Blue Agave premium tequila is growing more strongly. According to IWSR data there is evidence of continuing trading-up in the Tequila category.

"Over the five-years to 2013, ultra-premium Tequila achieved a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +9.6%, while super-premium (+5.4% CAGR) and premium (+13.5% CAGR) also outperformed the standard segment which grew at a CAGR of +0.8%."

Tequilas at Waitrose Cellar range from £21.99 for Good Ocho Reposado, Made by Margarita royalty the Estes dynasty, to £270 for the Best Herradura Suprema Extra Anejo, challenging notions that Tequila can't be premium.

Half the battle, Jones says, is fighting preconceptions about the Tequila's scope.

"Contrary to popular belief, Tequila can vary drastically in flavour with a variety of styles available, from white (or blanca/ silver) through Reposado ('rested' in oak) to Añejo ('aged' in oak). For a margarita, a really good, smooth blanco is advised, but for added depth, try a Reposado.

"When searching for a quality Margarita tequila, customers should look for 100% Blue Agave on the label - which is a sign of quality. Agave is grown in the Jalisco region of Mexico and lots of people think it can express its specific site, like grapes can with wine."