Tequila is exclusively made from the Blue Weber Agave (Agave tequilana). It has an internationally recognized Denomination of Origin and can only be produced in one of five Mexican states including Jalisco, Nayarit, Guanajuato, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas. Mezcal, on the other hand, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from any type of agave. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), tequila/mezcal sales were up 17.2% or $886 million totaling $6 billion in 2022. Furthermore, according to IWSR, this year, tequila will surpass vodka, making it the most-purchased spirit by value, at around $13.3 billion in the U.S. Tequila is having a moment with unique flavor profiles, RTD tequila-based launches, artisan bottles, and sustainability initiatives.
Unique Tequila Flavor Profiles
Since tequila can only be made from the Blue Weber Agave plant in five Mexican states, brands are innovating with their treatment of ingredients, distillation process, and aging barrels. These different methods create unique flavor profiles for consumers to enjoy. Patrón has added several new tequilas to its portfolio. Patrón Ahumado Silver and Patrón Ahumado Reposado are two new limited edition variations using agave roasted in small batches over mesquite charcoal. The Ahumado Silver offers a “lingering smoky and smooth taste, with natural sweetness, balanced with notes of spices, black pepper, and cooked agave” and Ahumado Reposado is characterized as “smooth, sweet, smokey, and woody with flavors of black pepper and undertones of vanilla and caramel.” The El Cielo is a new premium tequila that has been distilled four times, which “unlocks and opens the natural sweetness and smoothness from the agave.” Astral Tequila released two new products: Astral Tequila Añejo and Astral Tequila Reposado. The Astral Tequila Reposado is aged for five months with subtly sweet yet rich notes of agave, caramel, and oak while the Astral Tequila Añejo is aged for 12 months with warm notes of vanilla, oak, and butterscotch. Espanita Tequila is a limited-edition double barrel aged series. The Espanita Double Barrel Reposado Tequila will be the first release. It highlights an extended aging process with two different kinds of wood: maturing in American White Oak casks, then aged in freshly emptied bourbon barrels from producers in Kentucky. According to the brand, “the woods mellow the spirit and enrich the flavor profile, which results in aromas of orange zest, apricot chutney, toasted honey, Cherry Heering, and vanilla bean.
The Campari Group launched Mayenda Blanco, a new high-end Tequila created by maestro tequilero, Jesus Susunaga and his team at Casa San Nicolás distillery. To create the unique flavor there are two additional steps to the production process – the roasted piñas (agave hearts) are steeped in the base distillate and then blended with agave miel (honey) from the agave cooking. Nobu collaborated with Qui on the Nobu Rare 2008 Reserve, which released only 1,500 numbered one-of-a-kind extra añejo tequila bottles, which are priced at $500 and also available to try at Nobu restaurants. The tequila was created with a blend of agave harvested in 2007 and 2008 aged in traditional American Whiskey Oak Barrels and then in steel tanks. It is self-described as having “notes of sweet oak, toasted almond, and maple, which play beautifully on the nose with aromas of wood, tobacco, caramel, and vanilla.” Tequila de la Gente is “the world’s first crowd-sourced tequila,” which launched an at-home tasting experience. The tasting kit features four different Tequila Añejos that have been aged between 12 to 16 months in ex-bourbon barrels with flavors and aromas of vanilla, chocolate, black pepper, and honeysuckle. Consumers are invited to try each unique sample and collaboratively vote on the brand’s first full-size bottle release to be announced in late 2023. Dulce Vida Tequila offers all-natural, organic, 100% Blue Weber Agave Blanco infusions made from real fruit in three flavors: Grapefruit, Pineapple Jalapeño, and Lime.
In addition to unique flavor profiles, pink-hued tequila is emerging. Aging tequila in red wine oak barrels enhances the flavor and gives it a rose color. Calirosa Tequila, the premier red wine barrel-aged tequila brand, debuted Calirosa Reposado. It is made with 100% Blue Agave and aged in prized red wine barrels for nine months giving it a signature rosa glow. The Reposado has “hints of juicy nectarine, coriander, and pineapple, and on the nose hints of guava, orange blossom, and citrus.” Tequila Don Julio introduced Tequila Don Julio Rosado, which is aged at least four months in Ruby Port wine casks from the enchanting Douro wine region of Portugal. According to the brand, it imparts a delicate pink hue with a light, fruit finish of creamy strawberry, ripe raspberry, and a touch of bitter cocoa notes. Similarly, Celosa Tequila is an organic Joven rosé tequila made with seven-year-old Blue Weber Agave rested in French oak barrels, which previously housed wine. The flavor is self-described as “the freshness of summer berries balanced by a slight sweetness of vanilla before a smooth finish.”
Spirit brands are creating tequila-inspired products with distinct flavors. Selva Negra is a new 100% agave spirit made in Germany’s Black Forest. It is distilled using the extract from Salmiana agave imported from Mexico with wine yeast for the fermentation. The extract is turned into an agave wine between six to eight weeks before it is distilled twice. In between distillations, Selva Negra is infused with smoke from local German Spruce wood. Currently, the spirit is available in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Smokehead, an Islay single malt scotch whisky brand, launched the Tequila Cask Terminado in the U.S. The Tequila Cask Terminado is an innovative Islay scotch whisky produced by maturing Smokehead in ex-Bourbon barrels with a finish in Mexican Tequila oak casks. According to the brand, “the tequila cask finish provides a noteworthy taste where fiery peat awakes with wild agave. Smoke mixes with chewy meringue, fresh blood orange, and barbecued pineapple with notes of smooth toffee, vibrant lime, and ambrosian peaches.”
Ready-To-Drink Tequila Cocktails
According to Nielsen, tequila-based Ready-To-Drink (RTD) cocktails are experiencing high growth, an increase of 138% in 2021. High Noon has debuted Tequila Hard Seltzer in four flavors: Lime, Grapefruit, Passionfruit, and Strawberry. It is formulated with Blanco tequila, real fruit juice, sparkling water, and natural flavors. Topo Chico Spirited is a new cocktail line inspired by bartenders across America who use Topo Chico Mineral Water as a mixer. Two of the three cocktails are tequila-based. Inspired by Texas Ranch Water, Tequila & Lime contains Tequila Blanco, real lime juice, and Topo Chico Mineral Water. The Tequila & Grapefruit was inspired by the Mexican Paloma and is made with Tequila Blanco, real grapefruit, lime juice, and Topo Chico Mineral Water. Mi Campo partnered with celebrated Mexico City-based mixologist Mafer Tejada on two RTD cocktails. The Mango Mule is made with Mi Campo Reposado tequila and features ripe mango, citrus, and fresh ginger while the Spicy Jalapeño Margarita is made with Mi Campo Blanco tequila and highlights a combination of tangy lime and fiery jalapeño.
Jennifer Lopez founded the House of Delola LLC to launch unique, premium spirit-based, full-flavored, crafted cocktails that are made with natural botanicals and are gluten-free and low in calories. The first release, Delola Spritz, is available in three cocktails. The Paloma Rosa Spritz contains grapefruit, elderflower, and premium tequila. Cultor introduced a line of canned tequila cocktails in four varieties: Coco, Flora, Passion, and Soul. Created by Mixologist Shauna O’Neil from Sweet Liberty in Miami, the RTD cocktails contain natural ingredients, like passionfruit, ginger, coconut, cucumber, hibiscus, and elderflower combined with premium 100% Blue Agave Tequila. Tequila brand Olmeca Altos has launched Olmeca Altos Ready To Serve Strawberry Margarita in the U.S. crafted with Altos Plata Tequila, natural strawberry flavor, and agave syrup. Georgia-based Reformation Brewery has launched Blueberry Ranch Water. Described as “an exceptionally flavorsome tequila cocktail,” the cocktail is created with 100% pure tequila and is infused with fresh blueberries, real key lime, and Reformation’s sparkling water. Dad Water will hit the shelves this summer and be available in four non-carbonated fruit-infused Tequila water flavors. The beverages are free of artificial sweeteners and preservatives and are naturally gluten-free.
Tequila making is an art and in recognition, brands are creating handcrafted, adorned bottles, many of which are limited editions. Last year, 818 Tequila founded by Kendall Jenner, launched the Eight Reserve by 818, an ultra-premium Añejo Reserve. It is housed in a handmade number eight-shaped ceramic decanter produced by artisans in Pachuca, Mexico. KAH Huichol Limited Edition is a collection of 600 hand-decorated, beaded bottles by Amber Beverage Group. Released only in the U.S., the limited-edition KAH Extra Añejo Tequila bottles are each adorned with 22,000 tiny beads applied by hand. In honor of Casa Don Ramón’s 25th anniversary, the brand released a limited edition of 5,000 extra añejo bottles encased in Swarovski crystals. The limited edition tequila is triple distilled and aged for three years in American oak, French oak, and whisky barrels with notes of dark cherries, cedar, and caramel. The anniversary edition bottles were crafted by Mexican artisans who hand-placed the 301 golden SS12 Swarovski crystals on each of the bottles. Female-founded brands 21 Seeds Infused Tequila and Birdies have released a Top-Shelf Sneaker Collection. The Roadrunner sneaker is accessorized with hand-cast round wood beads and vibrant pom pom tassels and the inside features the woven blanket design from the 21 Seeds Infused Tequila. The sneakers come in three colorways inspired by the three Infused Tequila flavors: Hibiscus, Jalapeño, and Valencia.
Upcycled Tequila Waste
Like other industries, sustainability is on the agenda for tequila brands. The Adobe Brick Project is the sustainability arm of Astral Tequila run by Oaxacan engineer Martha Jimenez Cardoso. The tequila waste bagasse (the fibrous remnants of the agave piña after steaming, crushing, and fermenting) and vinasse (the liquid runoff of the distillation process) are combined with soil to create an ancient building material known as adobe. Astral Tequila makes adobe-style bricks and donates them to build homes for people in the surrounding communities. The Sustainable Agave Company develops new biodegradable products from agave waste such as single-use takeout and delivery products like straws, cups, and cutlery. To drive farming efficiency and environmental benefits across tequila farming in Mexico, Diageo introduced drones. The drones are to build data on agave plants to drive better farming decisions, reduce water and fertilizer use and decrease the use of vehicles to reduce carbon emissions.
Fortune Business Insights expects the global tequila market to grow from $10.43 billion in 2022 to $15.57 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 5.89%. Watch as existing brands and new entrants develop new flavor profiles, RTD tequila-based launches, different distillation and aging processes, unique packaging, and sustainability initiatives.