Flavours waiting to be discovered

By: Ipacs Tamás Date: 2023. 07. 13. 16:10

Good tequila has its own character even without aging

This article is available for reading in Trade magazin 2023/6-7.

Data from 2022 reveal that sales of spirits made from agave surpassed American whisky sales in the USA, and a forecast by IWSR says tequila will overtake vodka this year, becoming the biggest spirit category. There are two tequila categories: the distillate made of 100% blue agave and the mixto – the alcohol content of the later is provided by minimum 51% blue agave and the rest is from sugar or molasses. The label on a bottle of tequila never says “mixto”, so if there is no 100% agave content indicated on the label, the given drink is a mixto. Strong, smoky distillates made of maguey agave are called mezcal.

Agave-based drinks have become stars of the category

Based on the time the drink spends in oak barrels before bottling, we can distinguish different tequilas: blanco is aged for 0-2 months, reposado is in the barrel for 2-11 months, the aging period of añejo is 1-3 years, and extra añejo is aged for more than 3 years. Experts say tequila isn’t like whisky – the main flavour of which comes from the wood: even tequila blanco can have its own, strong character. In Hungary tequila is rarely enjoyed as a shot, people drink it more in the form of long drinks.

Let’s learn to sip

Adrienn Hangya
junior brand manager
Roust Hungary

Adrienn Hangya, junior brand manager of Roust Hungary:

“Hungarian tequila sales have surged in every category, demand is huge, but the drink’s popularity is far from its esteem in the USA. Our Jose Cuervo tequila continues its conquest, as volume sales are now bigger than before the pandemic. This growth is mainly produced by on-trade channels, but off-trade is increasing too”.

Dániel Lehner
senior brand manager

Dániel Lehner, senior brand manager of Heinemann:

“Today tequila’s presence is a must on the spirit shelves of Hungarian bars and restaurants. As market leaders, it is especially important for us to satisfy the growing need for premium tequilas. We can recommend the best products in both the premium and the super-premium categories to our consumers”.

The company’s top product is the Sierra Tequila with the sombrero on top of the bottle, but consumer demand is on the rise for 100% agave Sierra Antiguo; in the super-premium category they can buy Sierra Milenario.

Eastern Europe is lagging behind

Kovács Dávid Gábor, Zwack

Dávid Gábor Kovács
marketing director

Dávid Gábor Kovács, marketing director of Zwack Unicum:

“Basically it is in the English-speaking countries that Mexican spirits are very trendy, and Eastern Europe is lagging behind in this respect. It is more and more characteristic of Hungarian consumers too that they drink less but from better quality spirits”.

Zwack is the distributor of Diageo’s Don Julio and Casamigos tequilas. In May 2023 the company introduced Don Julio Blanco premium tequila to the market, which will be followed by the super-premium Don Julio Anejo and Reposado products in July.

Adrienn Hangya explained that in mainstream bars tequila is typically enjoyed as a shot, while in premium hospitality units guests drink it in cocktails. Dániel Lehner added that people tend to drink their Sierra Tequila as a shot, but using it in cocktails is becoming increasingly frequent, thanks to the brand’s Antiguo and Milenario variants. Dávid Gábor Kovács reckons that in Hungary demand may rise for aged Mexican spirits among premium consumers – this can be true not only for tequila, but also for other Mexican spirits such as mezcal, sotol and bacanora. //


720,000 litres of rum and 49,000 litres of tequila sold in a year

The NIQ (formerly NielsenIQ) retail index reveals that spirit (vodka, whisky, liqueur, bitter, pálinka, brandy, vermouth, gin and rum) sales neared HUF 143bn in March 2022-February 2023, as value sales increased by 8% from the base period level. In volume 4% less spirit was sold, with Hungarian consumers taking home almost 22,000 litres of spirit.

NielsenIQ logo

Séra Katalin_NielsenIQ

Guest writer:
Katalin Séra
senior analyst
NIQ (formerly called NielsenIQ)

Tequila value sales exceeded HUF 500m after an 8% sales hike, and volume sales also developed, because Hungarians purchased 2,000 litres more than in the previous year, at 49,000 litres. Manufacturer brands realised almost 100% of value sales.

Rum’s share from total spirit sales was 3%, which was 6% more than in the base period and represented a value of almost HUF 5bn. Rum volume sales fell 6% and 720,000 litres were sold. Branded products were responsible for 70% of value sales, but sales of private labels grew by double-digit numbers in both value and volume. //

Agave-based alternatives

In the past few years demand sharply rose for tequila and mezcal, and this made both consumers and manufacturers more interested in agave-based alternative spirits – either made in Mexico or another country. For instance sotol is a bright and grassy spirit, with vegetal highlights; sotol grown in forests has notes of pine, mint and eucalyptus, while the plants that come from the desert have a more mescal-like, earthy and salty taste.

Sotol, bacanora and raicilla from the super premium category

Raicilla, just like bacanora, is a kind of mezcal – these are also made in Mexico and geographically protected. In colonial times the Spanish banned racilla, and the first brand only appeared in the US market in 2014. Bacanora’s ban was lifted in 1992 and the first premium brand was Puntagave, which debuted in 2015.//

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