The increasing popularity of craft tequila has helped fuel the mezcal movement. Below we look at seven mezcal/tequila brands on the rise.
Launched in 2014, this brand has grown thanks to a distribution relationship with Southern Glazer’s, and a minority investment last April from Constellation Brands. Also, El Silencio has successfully tapped into mythology and art with its marketing.
Its “We stole the fire” campaign referenced the role of fire in the history of man and the making of mezcal, and prompted an art show shared over social media and other channels. Another campaign, “Black Magic,” highlighted the brand’s black bottle, which “pays homage to the black clay traditionally used in Oaxacan pottery,” explains Natalia Garcia-Bourke, brand director.
“We will soon be revealing our newest campaign, that focuses on the Alebrijes, fantastical mythical creatures that play a prominent role in Oaxacan mythology,” she adds.
This growing brand is representative of the sustainability and “support local” movements in mezcal. “In recent years, we have been able to plant more than 255,000 agave plants,” says Mezcal Union Co-Founder Alejandro Champion, “and we now collaborate with more than 20 distilleries across eight different villages of Oaxaca.”
Overall the brand focuses on the wellbeing of the indigenous communities in Oaxaca. This includes implementing efficiencies in the distilleries, or palenques, that increased workers’ earnings by about 260%, Champion says. In the U.S. and abroad, Union is adding more brand ambassadors. The suggested retail price is around $35.
Casamigos has become ubiquitous. It was sold in 2017 by George Clooney and his fellow co-founders to Diageo for $1 billion. And yet it’s still emerging. The brand grew 50% in 2018, according to the Beverage Information and Insights Group, reaching 255,000 cases while earning a Fast Track Growth Brand from Beverage Dynamics.
In 2018 Casamigos launched a mezcal. It’s “smooth with no burn and smoked to perfection,” says co-founder Rande Gerber. “Consumers are smart and know what they like and they want the best. No fancy bottles. Our money is what’s inside the bottle.”
This brand includes 15 offerings that explore the wide scope of mezcal, while attracting cross-category consumers. “I think the bigger push into the category is whiskey aficionados looking to replicate spice and smokiness to which they’ve grown accustomed,” says August Sebastiani, president of 3 Badge Beverage Corporation. “We often refer to our core demographic as exploratory whiskey fans, rather than graduated tequila fans.”
With such a diverse portfolio, Bozal has hosted mezcal dinners around the country to highlight the connection to fine dining. “Similar to wine, mezcal flavor profiles can vary greatly based on its terroir and can also be elevated with food pairings,” says Sebastiani.
This Buffalo Trace brand taps into super-premium trends with its annual, highly awarded Expresiones del Corazón series. The 2019 lineup included añejos aged in former Buffalo Trace, Sazerac and Thomas H. Handy whiskey barrels, with an SRP of $79.99 each. “At the heart of tequila making tradition is the barrel aging process,” says Megan Hurtuk, Marketing Director, Agave & Proprietary Gin. “Consumers are captivated by this process as a whole — whether it’s bourbon, tequila or another spirit.”
This Moët Hennessy luxury brand launched in 2017. Unlike many brands, Volcan has its own distillery, at the base of the dormant Tequila Volcano in Jalisco.
“Our story focuses on this very land, the community and terroir that exists in both the lowlands and highlands agave,” says Volcan President Trent Fraser. “Consumers quickly resonate with this as well as identifying with our name, Volcan, and bottle as we pay homage to this with our striking bottle with Volcano at the base of it.” The SRP is around $45 for the Blanco, $70 for the filtered añejo Cristalino.
This female-founded brand launched this year with a feminine aesthetic and three fruit-infused tequilas: cucumber jalapeño, grapefruit hibiscus and Valencia orange. Working with Massachusetts-based Brigade Marketing, influencer and social media campaigns have targeted a 21-44-year-old female demo by focusing on wellness and fashion. The SRP is $32.99.
Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @kswartzz or Instagram @cheers_magazine. Read his recent piece, What’s Driving Imported Whisky Sales in 2019.