Get the frat party image of nasty shots out of your head, big companies are investing heavily in the fastest growing spirit; Tequila. In fact, Diageo recently made a deal which saw the oldest Whisky distillery in the world, Bushmills, traded for full control of Don Julio, the famous Tequila label. So why is this change in investment occurring?
True tequila, the stuff crafted by generations of the same families with care and passion that puts the cognac and scotch industries to shame, is the finest spirit in the world. You read that correctly, the finest.
It has taken a long time for the Mexican government to support the growth of small producers to export markets but after the crazy runaway success of Patron over a decade has shifted things. Wine snobs now talk about the terroir differences between the Jalisco lowlands and the Los Altos regions, and how too much ex-bourbon maturation ruins the natural spirit spices that new french oak merely enhances.
There's no passion or variation in the world of spirits, except for tequila and mezcal. You can have a silky smooth and sweet sip of Clase Azul, experience the most perfumed and exotic Fortaleza, bite into the fresh butter and pineapple of an Arette or experience an earthy, smoke-laden hit from Enmascarado mezcal. To me, this is what drinking is supposed to be, every producer having their own take on what the perfect expression is. None being so pretentious as to make it about "being classy".
Secondly, high-end tequila bottles are now making themselves at home on the top-shelves of high-end bars and clubs and mixologists are beginning to endorse their use. Manhattans and Old-Fashioned are being made with luxury tequilas rather than Whisky, and many patrons either partying or relaxing are opting for the agave-based spirit.
Lastly, Tequila brands are being endorsed by some of the biggest name celebrities, and in fact, many of these celebs are actually creating their own brands (George Clooney, Justin Timberlake). Thought Avion Tequila from Entourage was fake? Think again, these high-end brands are real, and they're making their way into the lives of the rich and famous.
People drink tequila for one reason; enjoyment. That is why it's hot, it deserves to be and the big alcohol companies are trading in whisky relics to buy the names worth owning.