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The Next Spirits Gold Rush

As of 2020 in the United States, the agave spirit category has surpassed both the rum and bourbon categories collectively. Closing in on the top two spots, the agave spirit is now the third highest selling spirit in America, right behind bourbon and vodka. At this rate of growth, the sector will be outpacing all other segment competitors within the next three years.

Securely situating itself into a premium spot, and with the ability to pull multiple segments of consumers into its grasp, it has the luxury of being able to grow without compromising fiscal integrity. The category pulls from almost all customer segments and almost every background has their hand in the cookie jar in some way. Throw in some of the largest names in the world getting involved with the spirit, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kendall Jenner, along with George Clooney, and you have a recipe for a meteorological sized leapfrog in position sooner than later.

The fun part: So where is the next Pappy Van Winkle of the Tequila/Mezcal world? The chance of scarcity is not out of the question. Producers must wrestle with the fluctuation of the agave prices. Add in the logistics of the plant needing a decade or more to mature, and we may be looking at bottle necking issues. Is now the time to load up? Don’t start spinning your wheels to the local liquor shops yet, although I would advise picking up a couple key brands, I’ll share shortly.

Over the last 5 years, Single Barrel picks have exploded. Retailers are invited to their favorite distillery and are allotted a selection of private one-off barrels of their choosing. They select a barrel that yields a flavor profile that best fits with their customer base. In tandem, Bourbon groups all over the country share their love and fascination for the subtle differences between a bottle on the shelf and a unique private barrel via their local retailer. Sometimes sharing in the selection process via private samplings, which leads to cult like followings. Groups are formed, people get together, and large quantities of money and Bourbon are flying all over the place. It’s great for the industry, the craft movement and for the customer.

One can’t help but wonder what the next category or spin off will be and when it will begin to take off. Well, we are seeing it right now in slow motion, and that would be single barrel tequila picks. The method and process from distillery to consumer is no different with tequila than with bourbon, except the distance to distillery. An increasing number of Mexican distilleries let retailers select single barrels to bottle as “store picks” by shipping samples out to stores and restaurant potential customers. From there, the process is identical to single barrel bourbons and the rest is history in the making. If we take it one step further, with the rise of state side agave spirit producers, the distance will soon not be much of an issue for in person barrel picks. A quote circulating the country that captures this moment in time perfectly is, “Tequila drinkers are whiskey drinkers, they Just don’t know it yet” (Pura Vida Tequila, 2021).

Consumers who have purchased and enjoyed bottles of single barrel whiskey are more than open to enjoying the same process with an exploding category rich with flavor and complexities. Tequila is an easy transition, the general depth of flavors and subtle nuances can and has naturally appealed to whiskey fans. This migration has been years in the making. Corazon has been experimenting for about six years with their Anjos. Using their incredibly rare Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, (Expresiones del Corazón), they feature a lineup of tequilas that are barrel aged in super rare casks, such as: William Larue Weller, George T. Stagg, and Thomas H. Handy bourbon, that are aged for up to 22 months. Essentially laying the groundwork for transitioning bourbon to tequila drinkers seamlessly.



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