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It’s one of the UK’s fastest growing categories. We can’t get enough of the stuff. So, what on earth is going on with tequila in the UK? I love a great sugar-skull design as much as the next clever marketing chap (and that’s not to knock some of the brilliant marketing campaign activations that have done so much to boost interest in recent years) but what’s at the heart of the double-digit growth in demand for tequila?

The UK’s interest is being driven by premium and super premium brands which frankly taste fantastic – gone is the anticipated grimace when it hits the back of your throat, as quality tequila will be smooth to the taste. To chuck in a few stats, whilst demand for standard tequila has recently grown at around 8%, for premium and super premium brands the equivalent growth rate has been 21% and 13% respectively.

For my money, there’s a perfect storm of factors at play here:

• Cocktails in general are on the rise, particularly simple serves that are straight forward to create at home or with friends. It’s hard to beat a great Margarita or Paloma!
• It seems we can’t get enough of Mexico – more and more of us are heading there on holiday every year, such that the UK represents Mexico’s most important European tourism origin
• If we can’t make it to Mexico, we’re doing the next best thing and eating more Mexican food. Witness the explosion of Mexican restaurants on our High Streets in recent years
• Modern day pop-culture is also a strong influence, with Mexican cultural events such as Day of the Dead being brought to the forefront with film (Spectre) and evocative sugar-skull pattern designs
• There is a heightened interest in more exotic and adventurous spirits, particularly amongst a younger audience as people seek out new trends and flavours. The jump from gin to tequila is less challenging on the palette than vodka for example, so it is increasingly coming into people’s drinks repertoire
• There’s been a significant increase in both trade and consumer knowledge on the category. For me, this is probably the biggest influencer on demand.

So, now we know we like it and why, how do we make sure we select a good tequila?

• Look for “100% agave” tequila. Whilst it’s not an absolute guarantee of a quality tequila, if you can look for a brand that uses mature agave, this offers a more rounded product. With the global shortage of agave, bear in mind you will need to pay extra for a 100% agave product
• Drinking tequila should not draw a wince when imbibed! Tequila has had a bad reputation in the past, but the days of the grimace are gone, and a quality tequila will be smooth to drink
• Why not try out a range of expressions and ages from the same brand – either to serve in cocktails, for sipping over ice, or for mixing. Consider a tequila and tonic (a T&T) or, if you’re watching your calories, a tequila and soda with lime squeezed over it as a simple serve
• Think colour, although this isn’t always straight forward. It’s sometimes hard to tell whether a tequila is aged just by looking at the colour, as some brands add caramel. Check the label carefully I think tequila is better without added colours or sugars
The UK consumer is now taking the tequila category far more seriously, and perceptions are changing as consumers realise that this is a rewarding drink. At Mangrove UK, we’re certainly experiencing significant growth across all our brands, and are seeing more demand both for El Jimador, but also for Herradura, which offers five expressions of 100% blue agave.

Want to know more? We’re always happy to chat spirits and you’re welcome at The Vintry anytime so why not drop us a message.