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Exclusive: Dwayne Johnson’s Teremana Rocks The Super-Premium Tequila Space

December 4, 2020

As one of the most recognizable film stars in the world—with movie credits including The Scorpion King, Fast & Furious, and Skyscraper, as well as an Instagram following numbering more than 200 million people—Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson needs no introduction. And if the early returns are any indication, his super-premium Tequila brand Teremana soon won’t need one either.

Teremana, created by Johnson along with co-founders Dany Garcia, Ken Austin, and Jenna Fagnan, debuted in March with Blanco and Reposado expressions retailing at around $30 and $33 a bottle respectively. The brand’s moniker is a combination of ‘Tere,’ derived from the Latin ‘terra’ meaning earth, and ‘Mana,’ the Polynesian word meaning spirit. Mast-Jägermeister US was tapped as Teremana’s exclusive importer, a move that aligned the brand nationally with top-ranked U.S. distributor Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits.

In one of the biggest debuts for a new-to-world brand in history, Teremana is on track to deplete 300,000 9-liter cases in its first 12 months on the market, with shipments expected to total 400,000 cases.

“A celebrity name doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in the spirits business, but Dwayne Johnson and his founding Teremana Tequila team have done an outstanding job creating a great tasting premium product at an incredibly accessible price point,” says Southern Glazer’s CEO Wayne Chaplin. “Dwayne’s sizable and highly engaged social media following has also contributed to creating significant consumer pull for the Teremana brand.”

Johnson’s palpable passion for Tequila is the linchpin in the project. “Tequila’s been a part of my family for a very long time, in good times and not so good times and everything in-between,” he tells SND. “We want to be in this for the long haul, and really build a legacy brand, so that when I walk off into the clouds one day, this goes on to my children’s children’s children.”

Teremana’s accessible positioning is central to Johnson’s vision. “We want this to be a Tequila for the people, and our price should reflect that,” he explains, noting that he’s been cultivating a relationship with Teremana’s audience with regular Instagram updates. “Across all of my careers, I’ve focused on developing a relationship with the audience, rather than marketing to a consumer. I’m always trying to make sure I bring the audience in and let them know how important this brand is to me.”

Austin and Fagnan represent seasoned industry hands guiding the business. The duo sold their former Avión label to Pernod Ricard in a multi-tranched deal completed in 2018. Teremana has a vast runway for growth ahead, Austin tells SND. “There’s no question in my mind we could’ve done double what we have done, because we’ve been on allocation, with many major retailers only able to get five cases a month, when they wanted 50 or 100,” he says. “We’re ramping up as fast we can while still respecting the small-batch process,” Fagnan adds, noting that Teremana will work to develop a strong presence in bars and restaurants post-pandemic.

To produce the brand, the company partnered with Productos Finos de Agave in Jalisco, where Teremana has a separate facility including its own copper pot stills and brick ovens for roasting agave. “Everything about Teremana is bespoke, from its own NOM number all the way through the process,” says Austin. An Añejo extension is targeted to join the portfolio around the end of 2021’s third quarter.

Johnson says product quality, transparency—including nutritional facts on the back label—and respect for the brand’s audience will remain guiding stars for the business. “We don’t only want to play in the game,” Johnson sums up. “We want to change the way the game is played.”—Daniel Marsteller

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