July 28, 2021
Though tequila may be best known in the U.S. as the drink that, when overconsumed, leads to a series of misadventures reminiscent of The Hangover films or drunken escapades at a frat house, there is a lot more to the spirit. Mixologists have created a broad range of tequila-based cocktails that make the old Margarita seem like your grandma’s drink of choice by comparison.
Similarly, sales of high-end, refined tequilas have grown substantially, as has the number of tequila distillers. Case in point: MGP Ingredients, Inc. (Tii:MGPI), a leading supplier of premium bourbon, gin, grain neutral spirits, rye and whiskey, entered the tequila business in April 2021 with the acquisition of Luxco, Inc. and its affiliated companies. St. Louis-based Luxco is the distiller behind Juarez, El Mayor and Exotico brand tequilas. Luxco’s non-agave-based brands include Ezra Brooks Bourbon Whiskey, Daviess County Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Yellowstone Bourbon Whiskey, and Everclear.
Even though it ranks behind whiskey, rum and bourbon in popularity, America is the largest tequila importer, consuming roughly 19.88 million 9-liter cases in 2019, according to market research provider Statista. So, in honor of July 28th as National Tequila Day, let’s raise a glass to some of the leading providers of this oft-maligned distillate of the blue agave plant.
Touted as the World’s First Luxury Tequila, Don Julio was first established in 1942 and is now marketed in over 40 countries. Diageo PLC (Tii:DEO), which owns the brand, also produces Casamigos, an ultra-premium tequila made with 100% blue Weber agaves grown in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. Professional American football fans can expect to see Diageo brands throughout this coming season. The spirits producer signed a multi-year agreement to become the first-ever official spirits sponsor of the National Football League, which will include brand-specific programming throughout the season.
Eastside Distilling, Inc (Tii:EAST) entered the tequila business in 2019 when it acquired Azuñia Tequila in 2019. It was a good move. Gross sales for the year ending December 31, 2020, increased 21.2% to $14.8 million from $12.2 million in the prior year. The boost was largely driven by Azuñia Tequila sales, which sold 11,800 nine-liter cases for a $1.7 million increase over the preceding year.
Though Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Woodford Reserve bourbon may be the best-known brands in its portfolio, Brown-Forman Corp. (Tii:BF.B) generates strong sales from tequila. With brands that include Herradura, El Jimador, Pepe Lopez, and Antiguo Reposado Tequila, Brown-Forman reported that net sales increased 14% to $812 million for its fiscal year ended April 30, 2021. During that period, the company’s tequila portfolio grew underlying net sales by 14% on solid performances from its El Jimador and Herradura brands in the United States.
Constellation Brands, Inc. (Tii:STZ) may be the largest adult beverage importer in the United States thanks to its Corona and Modelo brands, but the producer and marketer of beer, wine, and spirits is no stranger to tequila. Among the company’s portfolio are two tequila brands – Casa Nobel Tequila and Mi Campo. Triple distilled from 100% Blue Weber agave grown in the volcanic soil in the mountains of Mexico’s western Jalisco, Casa Nobel tequilas are certified organic. Constellation’s Mi Campo line is double-distilled from 7-year matured 100% Blue Weber agave and rested in the same French oak used for aging wine.
Tequila is the first known spirit created in North America. The Aztecs fermented the same agave used in tequila to create pulque over 1,000 years ago. Some 400-500 years later, the invading Spanish came up with the idea of distilling the plant to create what we now call tequila. While you don’t need a holiday to enjoy this distilled beverage, why not raise a shot glass or cocktail featuring this venerable spirit on National Tequila Day?