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Exclusive: Rising Avión Tequila Moves Into Luxury Tier With Reserva 44

December 4, 2013

Avión Tequila, minority-owned by Pernod Ricard, has expanded its portfolio with the launch of Reserva 44, a new, luxury aged Tequila. Rolling out this month in key U.S. markets, Reserva 44 will make its debut in New York, California, Florida, Chicago, Texas, Nevada and Georgia before expanding nationwide later this winter. Its initial run will be limited to just 744 cases, sold both on- and off-premise and retailing at $150 a bottle.

“We want it to be an affordable luxury—that’s what Avión as a brand is,” says Avión founder and chairman Ken Austin, asserting that a proposition like Reserva 44 would traditionally be priced in the $300 range, which would place it alongside high-end Tequilas like Herradura Selección Suprema ($300), Partida Elegante ($300), Gran Patrón Platinum ($200) and Gran Patrón Burdeos ($500).

Made with a base of Avión Silver, Reserva 44 is matured in oak barrels for 43 months, then spends an additional 30 days in petite oak barrels, which are rotated each day, for a total aging period of 44 months. The 80-proof offering is then bottled in crystal, hand-numbered and individually signed by Austin.

Reserva 44 joins Avión’s core Silver, Reposado and Añejo expressions—priced at around $40-$50, $45-$55 and $50-$60, respectively—as well as its Avión Espresso liqueur, which launched in March of this year and retails for $24.99 a 750-ml. Avión president Jenna Fagnan tells SND that the liqueur’s relatively accessible positioning has helped usher new consumers into the brand’s fold. “Avión Espresso has really been embraced. It’s very inexpensive for the quality, and so it provides a gateway into the brand,” she says.

Pernod Ricard, which acquired global distribution rights and a minority stake in Avión in 2011, sees the potential for it to become the second-largest ultra-premium Tequila in the U.S., just behind Patrón, which surpassed 2 million cases last year. Pernod CEO Pierre Pringuet said in August that Avión is now “well above 60,000 cases” and that Pernod would readily increase its stake or even acquire the brand outright.

Austin agrees that Avión is well on its way to being a serious player, despite being a fairly new entrant. “In terms of growth, after doubling last year, we’re up 103% for fiscal 2013,” he says. “We see no slowing of that pace—in fact, we see it accelerating.”

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