Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57qNow that the first quarter of 2017 is in the books and we are well into spring and summer margarita season, here’s what were noticing at Tequila Aficionado Media Headquarters.

The Hits Just Keep on Coming!

As we pointed out in The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thought, we are smack in the middle of a shortage with no end in sight.

Yet, here at HQ, since January 2017, we’ve solicited, and been solicited by, no less than 50 brands of tequila, mezcal and sotol for our widely viewed Sipping Off the Cuff© series.

Some are labels that have been around for awhile, or re-launched with extended expressions to their core lines, and presumably, flush with cash from investors (we’ll circle back to this subject a bit later).

But, most are start ups in the agave spirits arena.

At press time, agave prices have skyrocketed from 1.7 Mexican pesos ($0.089) per kilo in 2013 to 10 pesos at the end of 2016, according to this recent article in Barron’s.

Our own sources claim that agave prices in May 2017 have hit a high of 14 pesos per kilo.  During the crisis of the late 1990s, agave prices reached an unprecedented 18 pesos per kilo!Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

The price hike has even taken a bite out of Jose Cuervo’s profits.  They more than made up for it, though, with their successful IPO this past February.

You may ask, “Don’t these new brands know we’re in the midst of another agave crisis?”

Bear in mind that many of these labels have been in the works for at least 3 years or more, well before a shortage was predicted, and well before this happened…

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

The timing of an agave spirit’s launch is, more often than not, dependent on its financial forecasts.

If you’re one of these newcomers, just take a deep breath and jump in.

Don’t forget to send us samples, too!

The Resurgence of the Reposado

I once asked Christopher Zarus, the innovator of the world’s only take home tequila tasting kit, TequilaRack®, why he chose to showcase only small batch, micro-distilled reposados from esteemed tequila making families in his collections.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

He explained that a well made reposado was one of the most difficult tasks in creating a dynamic line of tequilas.  He felt that it could literally make or break a brand.

When rocker Roger Clyne first entered the market with Mexican Moonshine tequila, he insisted on doing so with a reposado, even though he admitted, “…at the time, this was considered commercial suicide.”

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

Traditionally acknowledged as the ideal half-way point between a brilliant blanco and an elegant anejo, the reposado, for at least the past few years, seemed to have been treated by some brands as an afterthought, at best.

Not so in 2017.

Check out the reposado episodes of this season’s Sipping Off The Cuff© to see what we mean.

Especially take note of:  Tequila 512, 4 Copas, Azunia, Amorada, Armero, El Consuelo, Pasote, Alderete and Don Pilar.

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

Infused tequila is the new black.

But not just any infusions.

These are well crafted tequilas or agave spirits, sometimes laced with exotic spices, and simmering in off-the-charts heat from the Scoville scale.
Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

We first encountered this trend with 2016’s lively Brand Of Promise© Infused Tequila winner, Soltado.  A versatile and balanced anejo injected with Serrano peppers and cinnamon, it blew taste buds away.

With the popularity of pepper infused spirits like Fireball Whisky, and subsequent copycats, it seems only natural that agave spirits companies take notice.

Of the upcoming crop of pepper saturated agave is…

Spider Monkey Agave Spirit (Serrano pepper and ginger); Get Hot Tequila, a reposado imbued with Habanero peppers; and, speaking of Fireball, the man responsible for its immense popularity, Richard Alexander Pomes, presents Ghost Tequila, enlivened by the infamous, India-born ghost pepper.

Just remember that when you’re basking in the endorphins from having your salsa and drinking it, too, that the addition of alcohol on your tongue reactivates the oils inherent in the pepper’s capsaicin.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

It’s like Groundhog Day for your palate!

Millennials are Stealing Your Cocktail Recipes

Cocktail recipe photos are hugely popular on just about any social media platform that they are shared on.  The follower engagement is off the chain, in particular with Millennials.

It’s a well known fact that the prevailing cocktail culture around the world is driving the Spirits Industry.  But, once these concoctions and their ingredients are made public, they are being pilfered by these young people and served to friends and family at their cribs.

It’s apparent that Millennials seek to drink better than their older relatives.  Given that, signature cocktails are still a valuable commodity to agave spirits brands, but not necessarily for bars and restaurants.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

So, you mixologists—carry on.

Millennials are stealing your cocktail recipes!

Tequila has Outgrown Riedel Glassware

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57qIt’s official…

Tequila–and most all agave spirits, for that matter–has outgrown the Riedel Ouverture tequila tasting glass.

Don’t get us wrong.  It’s still a viable tool.  But…

The level of quality craft agave spirits flooding liquor store shelves, and the emphasis on single estate and organic tequilas and mezcals, now demands a better sipping glass in order to enjoy their unique, regional properties.

This fact had not been lost to oak heads.

For several years, whisky and scotch drinkers had opted to use the Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57qGlencairn glasses to not only enjoy anejos and extra anejos, but blancos and reposados, as well.

It can also be argued that the use of inadequate tasting and nosing glasses in the past few years has influenced–and possibly skewed–the results for valuable medals awarded by some of the most respected tasting competitions around the country.  So much so, that the judges’ final decisions are laughable.

To that end, we’re excited to be working with Romeo Hristov, proprietor of Chisholm Trail Craft Glassware, testing glasses produced by Stolzle, Luigi Bormioli, and his own more historically accurate vessel prototypes for tequila and mezcal.

You’ll be seeing a lot of these new glasses throughout the 2017 season of Sipping Off The Cuff©.

Watch for a future Open Bar where we’ll visit with Mr. Hristov, in depth.

Tequila Brands:  It’s a Buyer’s Market Out There

Earlier, we hinted about some dormant tequila brands that have suddenly been revived by wads of money.

It seems that every other day, family-run investment firms contact us at HQ looking for hot tips on where to park their cash that’s burning holes into their conservative, yet very deep, pockets.

We were also recently offered a fee by a well known celebrity to taste test the newest version of his tequila, versus the Usual Suspects.  We gracefully declined.

But it got us thinking.  Whether you’re a megastar or a moneybags…

Why go through all the trouble of launching, or relaunching, a tequila from scratch when there are so many labels out there for sale?

As predicted by Patrón tequila’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lee Applbaum in this  article, the Great Agave Shakeout has begun.

The road to Tequila Nirvana is currently littered with brands that could not sustain the required 5 year threshold of longevity, let alone a 10 year marketing plan.

Many have withered away consumed by mismanagement, overwhelm, lack of distribution support, or simply investment underestimation.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

Instead of going through all the trouble of conceptualizing and heavily funding a whole new agave spirits marque with a least a dozen other investors, why not take a page from Jim Driscoll, owner of Ekeko Wines and Spirits, and importer of Demetrio tequila?

Seek a distressed brand that had something going for it, and that you can make better.

You may find, after some thorough due diligence, that before hitting the skids the brand showed considerable promise and can be purchased—lock, stock, and barrels—for a song.

Or, you may discover that the concept for the juice was designed exclusively for the international Duty Free market, completely escaping the drudgery of the Three Tier System.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

The road to the Kingdom of Agave Heaven won’t be any easier, but at least some of the requisite start up costs could be minimized.

Warning:  The Quality of Your Mass Produced Tequila is about to get Worse

Word on the streets of the Highlands of Jalisco is that the Big Boys have bought up all the 3 year old agave in the region.  Younger plants simply do not contain the minimum amount of agave sugars (measured in brix) required by the normas to make tequila.

As soon as 2 year old agaves turn 3, they are sure to be snatched up by coyotes (agave middlemen).

Coyotes for the Usual Suspects are desperately seeking magueys from reputable growers who are now sitting in the catbird seat, ready to hike agave prices even further.

Those boutique agaveros who are holding 4 and 5 year old plants are poised to make a killing in the agave market in the following few months and years.

Meanwhile, back at The Lab…

Analyzed samples of these mass produced tequilas are being rejected because they reportedly contain too little alcohol from blue weber agave, and too much from added sugars.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

Watch for increased use of diffuser technology to extract maximum agave juices and sugars in order to fulfill worldwide demand, and—

Tequila quality to plummet.

Don Pilar Anejo Tequila Review

From the Don Pilar Tequila Website:Sipping Off the Cuff | Don Pilar Tequila Anejo https://wp.me/p3u1xi-52i

PRODUCTION NOTES

ESTATE-GROWN BLUE AGAVE
Don Pilar grows his agave on five private ranches in the Highlands of Jalisco near the town of San José de Gracia.

AGED 18 MONTHS IN VIRGIN AMERICAN WHITE OAK
The distinctive golden color and buttery, oak aroma of Don Pilar’s Añejo comes as a result of aging his tequila in virgin American White Oak barrels.

THE MOZART METHOD OF FERMENTATION
Our master distillers insist on serenading the agave must with Baroque music during the 200 hours of fermentation to coax the conversion from sugar-to-alcohol.

A SIPPING TEQUILA
Don Pilar Añejo goes great in a margarita, but to truly enjoy, try it neat in a Reidel tequila glass or similarly shaped flute.

FTC Disclaimer: All samples are received free of charge but no payment is accepted by Tequila Aficionado or its agents for reviews. All reviews are the opinions of those participating in the tasting and positive reviews are never guaranteed.

Don Pilar Extra Anejo Tequila Review

Sipping Off the Cuff | Don Pilar Tequila Extra Anejo http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4WVFTC Disclaimer: All samples are received free of charge but no payment is accepted by Tequila Aficionado or its agents for reviews. All reviews are the opinions of those participating in the tasting and positive reviews are never guaranteed.

From the Don Pilar website

40 MONTHS OF DOUBLE-CASK AGING
Don Pilar’s Extra Añejo is aged in new American White Oak barrels for 36 months. Leopoldo and Gabriel—our master distillers—add a final, masterly stroke and finish aging it for an additonal four months in French Limousin Oak casks to impart a luscious fruity finish.

HAND-SIGNED, LIMITED-EDITION BOTTLING
To commemorate the uniqueness of this Extra Añejo, every bottle was individually numbered and hand-signed by Don Pilar. This first lot was limited to 10,000 bottles.

AN ODE TO TRADITION
Every bottle comes in a wooden gift box that tells the story of La Cabalgata, a Mexican tradition of horsemanship, faith and camraderie.

SHOOTING IT WOULD BE A CRIME
To experience fully, we recommend you pour this Extra Añejo in a wide-bowled snifter and sip slowly and luxuriously.

Don Pilar Blanco Tequila Review

Sipping Off the Cuff | Don Pilar Tequila Blanco http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4WUFTC Disclaimer: All samples are received free of charge but no payment is accepted by Tequila Aficionado or its agents for reviews. All reviews are the opinions of those participating in the tasting and positive reviews are never guaranteed.

From the Don Pilar website

AN UNAGED, PURE SPIRIT
A blanco tequila is unaged and clear—the distilled essence of the agave plant.

THE MOZART METHOD OF FERMENTATION
Our master distillers insist on serenading the agave must with Baroque music during the 200 hours of fermentation to coax the conversion from sugar-to-alcohol.

AROMATIC PROFILE & CLEAN FINISH
Don Pilar’s Blanco has a wonderfully fragrant profile and a refreshingly clean finish.

Last Tequila Standing – A Groundbreaking Tequila Reality Show

 

A Tequila Reality Show?

last tequila standing, adan y eva, alderete, alma, alquimia, Azuñia, Casa ZG, Crótalo, cuestion, don pilar, ekeco, Mañana, nature's agave, Pavoneo, Quinta de Gomez, pavoneo, RiAzúl, Sal del Mar, senor rio, Silvercoin, tributo, Vida, casa zgIn 2011, a group of television professionals sought to create the first tequila reality show.  They called upon the industry expertise of then journalist and Editor at Tequila Aficionado, Mike Morales.  When production began, just under 20 tequila start ups vied to be crowned the Last Tequila Standing in the world’s first broadcast Tequila Reality Show.

What? No Tequila Shots?

The creators of Last Tequila Standing only filmed their pilot season back in 2011.  From there, in the old school way of doing things, they sought to sell the program to a television network.  But the Latino markets they were approaching had no love for a tequila show that didn’t include shots.  They felt the world, or at least their audiences, wasn’t ready for such a thing.

Tequila History Preserved

Here at Tequila Aficionado, we knew better.  After years of discussions, we were finally given access to most of the show’s recorded materials. As this was not a Tequila Aficionado Media Production, we don’t expect to see another season but we’re thrilled that we were able to preserve these tequilas’ stories, personalities, and cocktails for posterity here at Tequila Aficionado Media.
The litmus test for most tequila start-ups is five years.  If you can make it in this business for that long, you’re in it for the long haul.  We’re very happy to see that many of these then “start-ups” are alive and kicking down doors five years later in the industry today!

Watch the whole Last Tequila Standing series here:

Criteria for Participants

Adan y Eva Tequila
Alma Tequila
Alquimia Natural Margarita
Azunia Tequila
Crotalo Tequila
Cuestion Tequila
Don Pilar Tequila
Ekeco Tequila
Manana Tequila Perfect Margarita
Pavoneo Green & White
Quinta de Gomez Tequila
Riazul Tequila
Senor Rio Tequila
Silvercoin Tequila
Tequila Alderete
Tributo Tequila
Vida Tequila
 

Mixology Products:

 

Tequila Education:

 

Finale:

The Last Last Tequila Standing

No More Last Tequila Standing

last tequila standing, adan y eva, alderete, alma, alquimia, Azuñia, Casa ZG, Crótalo, cuestion, don pilar, ekeco, Mañana, nature's agave, Pavoneo, Quinta de Gomez, pavoneo, RiAzúl, Sal del Mar, senor rio, Silvercoin, tributo, Vida, casa zgIn 2011, eighteen tequila start ups vied to be crowned the Last tequila Standing in the world’s first broadcast Tequila Reality Show.  
The creators of Last Tequila Standing only filmed the one season back in 2011 and we were very limited in our access to the show’s materials. As this was not a Tequila Aficionado Media Production, we don’t expect to see another season but we’re thrilled that we were able to preserve these tequilas’ stories, personalities, and cocktails for posterity here at Tequila Aficionado Media.
last tequila standing, adan y eva, alderete, alma, alquimia, Azuñia, Casa ZG, Crótalo, cuestion, don pilar, ekeco, Mañana, nature's agave, Pavoneo, Quinta de Gomez, pavoneo, RiAzúl, Sal del Mar, senor rio, Silvercoin, tributo, Vida, casa zg
Click on the links below to catch up on any episodes you may have missed:

July

August

September

Tequila Aficionado Media Presents Last Tequila Standing

national tequila day, last tequila standing, tequila aficionado, TV show, reality show

First ever Tequila Reality Show kicks off on National Tequila Day!

For Immediate Release!

In 2011, eighteen tequila start ups had vied to be crowned the top Brand Of Promise(TM) in the world’s first broadcasted Tequila Reality Show.

Tequila Aficionado Media Presents Last Tequila Standing

July, 2015, San Antonio, TX:  Starting July 24, 2015, National Tequila Day, 45 exclusive episodes of Last Tequila Standing will be streamed daily over Tequila Aficionado Media’s website and on-demand over its own YouTube playlist, as well as featured throughout all of its powerful social networks.

“Through the expansion of opportunities on the Web, and Tequila Aficionado

Last Tequila Standing.
Last Tequila Standing.

Media’s own explosive growth, we are proud to present for your enjoyment, Last Tequila Standing,” declared Tequila Aficionado’s CEO, M.A. “Mike” Morales.

Never-before-seen raw footage of some of the tequila industry’s most promising labels will be aired.  Each will relate their start up stories and demonstrate their tasty signature cocktails, too.

Colorful brand owners, master distillers, and top flight brand ambassadors took the stage with their enduring tequilas, many of which are still thriving even in 2015’s more competitive tequila market.

 The Dare

Judging_LTSIn the late summer of 2011, 18 brave tequila brands took up this challenge–

To appear on the first ever televised tequila reality show to share with the world their personal stories and to participate in a judged tasting competition to be named the Last Tequila Standing.

Rocky Road

As with most TV pilots and shows that are ahead of their time, Last Tequila Standing struggled to find a permanent network home.

“After a series of fits-and-starts, several failed business deals and cable company mergers that never happened, Last Tequila Standing was all but lost,” recounts Morales, a producer and one of the hosts of the show.

From the moment Season 1’s taping had wrapped, Morales worked tirelessly for months with the Executive Producers to try to fulfill the show’s original mission–

To educate and inform tequila aficionados worldwide in an entertaining fashion LTS_Cameraon the finer points of Mexico’s national spirit, as well as to help promote organic, artisanal, small batch, and boutique tequila Brands Of Promise(TM).

“But just a few years later, with the advent of streaming video made popular by services like Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix, the playing field has changed dramatically,” adds Lisa Pietsch, Tequila Aficionado Media’s COO in charge of social media marketing.  “Last Tequila Standing lends itself perfectly to our binge watching audience.”

The Line-Up

Participating tequila brands include…

Alquimia Organic Tequila, Alma de Agave, Crótalo, Cuestión, Don Pilar, Tributo, SilverCoin,  and many others.

In addition, Sal del Mar gourmet sea salt, Casa ZG sangrita mix, and Nature’s Agave syrup are also highlighted.

Guest Starring

Alquimia and Quinta de Gomez, organic tequilas.
Alquimia and Quinta de Gomez, organic tequilas.

Along with Tequila Aficionado Media’s CEO and Tequila Journalist, M.A. “Mike” Morales, Clayton J. Czczech guest judges on Last Tequila Standing.

Also on hand to impart his vast tasting expertise is industry expert Christopher Zarus, inventor of the only take home tequila tasting kit, TequilaRack, which will also be featured extensively.

A Global Event

“Since the taping of Season 1 of Last Tequila Standing, the Tequila Industry has aggressively pursued global expansion into countries like China, Russia, India, and Brazil,” explains Morales.

“Given that our audience is not only viewing Tequila Aficionado from these locations,” asserts Pietsch, “but all across Canada, the United States, Germany and Mexico, we can truly say that the airing of Last Tequila Standing will be a global event of epic proportions!”

 ***

Watch for new episodes of Last Tequila Standing premiering every day–for 45 days–beginning on National Tequila Day, July 24, 2015 at 11AM CDT.

 

[*Editor’s note: As a courtesy and at the request of Clayton J. Czczech, Tequila Aficionado has attempted to remove all videos and photographs in which he was featured without degrading the balance of the Last Tequila Standing content provided to us.] 

Don Pilar Tequila Blanco

don pilar tequila blanco
By Ryan Kelley | 04.15.11
Highly Recommended

Overview

  • NOM 1443 – Grupo Industrial Tequilero de los Altos de Jalisco, S.A. de C.V.
  • Agave comes from ranches owned by Jose Pilar Contreras (“Don Pilar”) near the town of San Jose de Gracia in the highlands of Jalisco.
  • Cooked in autoclaves for 24 hours; left to cool for an additional 24 hours.
  • Fermented using the “Mozart method” (baroque music played during 7 to 10-day fermentation process).
  • Affordably priced at $28-$33 a bottle.
  • Kosher certified.
  • Tasted April 2011 using a Riedel tequila glass.

Tasting NotesDon Pilar Tequila Blanco

Sitting in my Riedel glass, Don Pilar blanco seems to sparkle. The body seems slightly thicker than other tequilas. Closing my eyes to assess the aroma, I am instantly transported to a tropical island, as pineapple and subtle mango dominate the nose. It’s backed with a lightly floral baked agave and offers just a hint of peppercorn. Matching the refreshing scent, this blanco is clean and crisp on the palate. It has a slightly oily entry that coats the tongue evenly with sweet, subtle agave flavor. If someone were to ask me what a highlands tequila tastes like, Don Pilar Blanco is a great example: fruity and floral. Unlike some highlands tequilas, however, it isn’t too sweet. The sweetness isn’t tempered by bitterness, but is instead grounded with some nice earthy tones, specifically green bell pepper. Don Pilar Blanco boasts a wonderfully creamy finish with an orange zest aftertaste.

Cocktail Note and Recipe: While Don Pilar Blanco is a perfect sipper for blanco fans – it’s crisp character just begs to be sipped on a hot day – the affordable price point and full body makes it an excellent blanco for cocktails. (You had better not pollute this tequila with anything but fresh, natural ingredients!) The flavors of Don Pilar inspired me to create this  (it doesn’t have a name, I just call it my Don Pilar Margarita):

  1. Twist a small strip of orange peel over a martini glass and drop it inside the glass.
  2. Combine all other ingredients into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice.
  3. Give it a good 10 shakes – not too hard or fast unless you want your cocktail watery – and strain into the glass.

Rating: 9.0 – Highly Recommended

More about Tequila Don Pilar

Taking a different path than most tequila brands, Tequila Don Pilar was until recently only available as an affordable añejo. It quickly became a well-respected and popular brand, especially in Northern California (where the añejo can be found in area Costco stores for $28.99, elsewhere for $35-$45.) Don Pilar, a former field worker turned restraunteur and entrepreneur, takes a hands-on approach to his tequila, supervising harvesting and production. A portrait of Don Pilar at his current age appears on the añejo bottles, and a young portrait appears on the new blanco.

The tequila is truly a family business. Don Pilar’s son, Juan, is the brand ambassador for the tequila. He tells me that the agave all comes from his father’s ranches near the town of San Jose de Gracia, which Juan tells me “is in the highlands [of Jalisco], 6,000 feet above sea level, in the middle of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of tequila production—between the towns of Arandas, Atotonilco and Tepatitlan.” Each agave used in the tequila is hand-selected. “It must be 8-to-10 years old,” says Juan. “Young or diseased plants are not used. We also take the extra step of removing the plant’s bitter roots – cogollos.”

Another distinguishing factor about Don Pilar is that it is fermented using the “Mozart Method,” a technique based upon the research of Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese scientist who focuses on the healing qualities of water. Juan explains that in the Mozart Method, “Baroque music, specifically Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons,’ is played during the fermentation process to optimize the sugar conversion. The basic theory or rationale is that yeast, being a living organism, reacts to audio stimuli, and the fermentation process improves even more so with a highly-cultured, sophisticated work of art like the ‘Four Seasons.'”

Visit Don Pilar on the web or connect with the brand on Facebook and Twitter.

If you can’t find Don Pilar Blanco in your area, it is also available for purchase online.

Disclosure statement:This item was solicited for review. Products are reviewed with objectivity and professionalism wherever and however they were acquired.

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