Originally Published Jan 22, 2010 by M.A. “Mike” Morales on CocktailMatch
Have you found yourself cutting back on extras? Dining out less and entertaining more at home? Have you eliminated frills and gotten back to basics? Many people have. Let’s face it…
2009 was a tough year, and 2010 could prove to be a steep, uphill climb.
In a September 23, 2009 entry in Wine & Spirits Daily, Nielsen, the marketing and media information company, reported that 55% of consumers were eating dinner at home more often. A total of 38% of consumers were going to a bar or nightclub less frequently.
Wine & Spirits Daily also reported in September that Zagat Survey, a hotel/restaurant guide publisher, discovered that people in Los Angeles were dining out less, with 19% of those surveyed cutting back on alcoholic drinks with their meals to save money.
In the liquor business, this situation is known as “soft on-premise” sales. A Nielsen representative concluded that “consumers are desperately seeking value, resulting in the re-prioritization of discretionary versus necessity” and a switch “from frills and luxuries to basics and value.”
In fact, global Swiss bank UBS says Generation Y consumers now believe that it’s “’not cool’ for them to spend money on expensive vodkas and other brands anymore….” Many are sticking to “tried and true” brands to get them through this economic downturn.
Consequently, in 2009 there was a huge push by spirits companies for the “off-premise” sales, which is selling the merits of their products through retail stores to consumers who consistently entertain at home.
As reported in Wine & Spirits Daily on January 7, 2010, this strategy has paid off for the spirits category in 2009 with a rise in sales and volume of 3.9% and 3.2% respectively. This trend is predicted to continue well into 2010, with growth in the spirits industry, according to Nielsen, being led by “value” and “mid-priced” brands.
Living With It Until Things Get Better
During a conversation last year with James R. Clements, former President and CEO of Global Distillers & Vintners Holdings. Inc., New Mexico’s newest and third largest wine and spirits distributor, he admitted that the term “value” had been overused in the spirits industry, and had acquired a negative connotation, as well.
To the consumer, value now means cheap in today’s economy.
Sophisticated drinkers, however, still insist on high-end products for their hard-earned bucks. Moreover, until things get better, they don’t want to pay for fancy bottles and packaging, and are demanding quality juice.
Due in large part to an agave glut long before the economy went south, and tequila distilleries stockpiling tequila to offset a forecasted shortage of the raw blue agave, the market is now flooded with value and mid-priced brands. And if you think these are cheap bailout mixtos guaranteed to make you feel worse than the next dip in the Dow Jones, think again.
The following list of 100% agave tequilas will keep you drinking like a millionaire long after this recession is but a bitter memory. You can invest with confidence in these gold medal winners, and you won’t have to reach into your slowly rebuilding retirement fund to do it!
For the record, let’s not refer to them as value and mid-priced tequilas. Instead, we propose to call them…
Produced by Mexican born twin brothers Will and Dave Elger, these guys started the value and mid-priced movement before it became a trend. Veterans of the tequila industry, they’ve successfully introduced a stunning, versatile, and palate-pleasing reposado bottled in literally a plain brown wrapper.
Their goal is to reeducate the tequila consumer who is paying $70-$80 per bottle for super-premium brands. “What they are really paying for,” explains Dave, “is fancy bottles and huge marketing campaigns. Our goal is to get back to the basics, and recreate the tequilas we remember growing up with: authentic quality at an affordable price.”
Not afraid of working hard to establish a firm foothold in the market (“We’re in it for the long haul,” declares Will), MuchoTE has emerged as a tequila known for its white collar essence and aroma at a blue collar price.
Just what the recession ordered up!
The brainchild of Korean born and Washington state based importer and brand owner Sang Chae, this “young reposado” is aged only two months in oak barrels to give it just enough finesse to make it stand out in the hippest cocktail, shine as a sipper, and even, Sang confesses, drizzled over a bowl of your favorite ice cream!
Distilled and bottled by the same family who has been producing tequilas for over one hundred years, they are also responsible for the hugely popular Aha Toro tequila line.
For $31, Amigo *bf4e is a necessary addition to any Stimulus Bar Package.
What can you say about a well tequila that in 2009 was voted the Rising Star Growth Brands award by the Beverage Information Group, and whose blanco and reposado varietals were awarded a silver and gold medal respectively at the prestigious 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition?
This isn’t just any well tequila!
Produced by Tierra de Agaves, the Mexican spirits company founded by Francisco Beckmann and sons, former co-owner of Jose Cuervo, and launched as a joint venture with Kentucky-based Heaven Hill Distilleries, this $18-$22 estate grown and bottled tequila is equally satisfying in a margarita or neat in a snifter.
A simple bottle design and a nifty retractable pour spout makes Lunazul a favorite among mixologists and party planners.
As Reid Hafer, Heaven Hill’s Senior Brand Manager put it, “At a time when consumers still seek quality and heritage, but are financially squeezed…Lunazul tequila is the right product at the right time.”
Teteo in the Nahuatl language means “of the Gods.” These ancient people knew that if they wanted to be godlike, they had to party like them and used the sacred agave juices to do it.
Importer Mexica Incorporated still makes it easy to “party like a Rock God” by founding their own distillery, Tequila 3 Reales de Jalisco, to control the quality and reliability of their tequila. The result is a blanco that packs a true agave punch, but treats your wallet with kid gloves.
Available in more and more places throughout Southern California (and hailing from my old stomping grounds in the San Gabriel Valley), this sparkling blanco retails in the mid-twenties along with a less expensive mixto version for even more versatility.
Teteo is equally comfortable at a backyard barbecue, a formal tasting, or a poolside get together.
Can these guys party, or what?
As iconic as the blue weber agave plant throughout the tequila growing regions of Mexico, the thorny huizache tree (acacia farneciana) has been glorified in poems to mythology. Such hasn’t been thecase in Huizache tequila’s marketing, however.
Packaging the reposado tequila with a sudoku game and priced at $18 in the summer of 2008, the marketing company for Huizache certainly had a sense of humor. Ignore the questionable cross marketing because there is no mistaking this tequila’s pedigree.
Produced by the Romo sisters (former co-owners of the legendary Herradura tequila), in Amatitán, Jalisco, both varietals are not only aromatic, but the agave flavor of the blanco and the satisfying wood notes of the reposado aren’t lost in any classic tequila cocktail.
Huizache has since upgraded their marketing to include elegant tequila girls to go along with their traditional bottle style and timeless quality.
Honest tequila at a reasonable price from a couple of classy dames makes Huizache the perfect sip to forget the ups and downs of any market indicator—or frustrating Japanese puzzle!
Speaking of pedigree, this tequila proudly displays its family tree all over the bottle. Plastered with the trademarked angel logo of the renowned Gran Centenario tequila line, Azul reposado was awarded a gold medal in 2009 by the prestigious Beverage Tasting Institute with a 94 point rating!
Reportedly using older agave of 10-12 years grown exclusively in the Highlands of Jalisco, its flavor profile is so unmistakably influenced by its sire that some call it “Gran Centenario Lite.”
Aged only two months in virgin French oak Limousin barrels, and acclaimed as “The best value in all of Tequila,” Azul’s price tag is a jaw dropping $16.00 to $19.00!
From the house of Gran Centenario (and Casa Jose Cuervo), an investment in Azul tequila is a tried and true hedge against lackluster performers in any down economy.
Not to be outdone by—um—itself, Casa Jose Cuervo is test marketing a silver version of its classic reposado tequila, Tradicional, exclusively in San Diego, Tampa, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Supported by outdoor and print media,
as well as its own tequila girls,
with a flavor unmatched by more expensive brands, there is no reason why Tradicional silver’s sales figures shouldn’t scream success. When that happens, it will be available to the rest of the country sometime in the spring of 2010.
Comparably priced with the award winning Tradicional reposado, this stable mate won’t disappoint in the most complicated cocktail recipe, or as a simple sipper.
Whether you’re a millionaire, or you just want to drink like one while you plot your next stock market move, sipping on these luxuriously tasting Stimulus Tequilas can make anticipating the Nation’s economic recovery much more bearable.