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Impact’s “Hot Brands” Put Tequila’s Premium Prowess On Display

April 15, 2020

With Tequila continuing to provide a growth engine for the spirits category, eight Tequila brands earned Impact “Hot Brand” honors recently, with the majority retailing in the super-premium-and-above segment. 100%-blue agave Tequilas dominate among the Hot Brand award winners, with seven of eight brands exclusively offering 100%-blue agave labels. The impressive growth of these brands—which has continued this year even amid the pandemic conditions—demonstrates that the growing audience for Tequila continues to be thirsty for upscale marques.

The leader by volume among Tequila Hot Brands is Jose Cuervo Especial Silver, which neared 1.5 million cases last year on 16.5% growth. The Proximo-owned brand has grown by more than 50% since 2016, when it had not yet crossed 1 million cases. In the four weeks through March 22, Especial Silver saw volume jump by 37% in IRI channels, more than doubling its rate of growth over the previous four weeks. Especial’s 100%-blue agave portfoliomate Jose Cuervo Tradicional also returned to the Hot Brands list after posting 28% growth to 240,000 cases. The rise of Silver and Tradicional have been key elements in the renewed momentum for the overall Jose Cuervo brand, which rose 7% to 3.8 million cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

Diageo-owned Don Julio is another 100%-blue agave Tequila returning to the Hot Brands list. The upscale brand rose by 23.5% to 920,000 cases last year, placing it within striking distance of the 1-million-case mark for 2020. Casamigos—also owned by Diageo—likewise earned honors, advancing by 35% to 450,000 cases. Don Julio and Casamigos led Diageo’s U.S. Tequila sales to 35% growth in the six months through December, with the latter seeing “improved distribution coverage as well as rate of sale,” according to the company. Both Don Julio and Casamigos have continued to surge in 2020, with their volume up 44% and 84% respectively in IRI channels in the four weeks through March 22.

Espolòn, part of the Campari portfolio and retailing in the super-premium segment, earned another Hot Brand award after a robust 2019, growing by 30.1% to crack a half-million cases. In the most recent four-week period, the brand soared by 77% in IRI channels, increasing from a rate of 27% in the previous four weeks.

Bacardi’s Cazadores, meanwhile, reached 492,000 cases on 13.6% growth in 2019, and it leapt by 51% in IRI data in the most recent four weeks. With Cazadores and Patrón, Bacardi now has a potent one-two punch in the category. Rounding out the Tequila Hot Brands for 2019 are Heaven Hill’s Lunazul at 400,000 cases, up 28%, and Pernod Ricard’s Olmeca Altos, which reached 300,000 cases on 11.5% growth.

With the Margarita reigning as the U.S. market’s leading cocktail, it comes as little surprise that premixed Tequila cocktails are also contributing to category gains. Proximo’s 1800 Ultimate Margarita earned Hot Brand honors this year, growing by 15% to nearly 600,000 cases. Cutwater Spirits (Anheuser-Busch InBev), another Hot Brand winner, markets a number of canned cocktails made with Tequila—including a Lime Margarita, Tequila Soda, and Paloma—and topped 200,000 cases last year.—Shane English

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