There are so many tequila brands on the market today, it’s baffling to sort through them all.
One tequila that should be on the radar is Case Noble. Jose Hermosillo, the seventh generation tequila maker in his family, has Casa Noble on the market in the U.S. (since 1999), imported by Infinium Spirits. In the main line there are Crystal, Reposado and Añejo, and in the Single Barrel line there are Reposado and Añejo. All are super-premium, 100 percent blue agave tequilas. They are currently in all but two control states.
“We’re focusing our attention on the industry,” Hermosillo says, “such as bartenders, servers and chefs. We’re also getting involved in art events, Hollywood and the Golden Globes.”
Casa Noble offers a value-added package that includes a 750-ml. bottle of Crystal plus 50-ml bottles of Reposado and Añejo. There will be individual boxes of bottles mid-year and at Christmas, and also a package with a 750-ml. bottle and a Riedel glass.
Another to watch is Hotel California Tequila, which takes its name from the famous 1950s Baja California hotel of the same name. The brand launched in the U.S. in 2008 with Blanco, Reposado and Añejo in Florida and Connecticut, and it now is available in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire and California. More states will be added, said co-owner Brian Whitney.
“We’re employing a grassroots marketing strategy,” Whitney says, “with many events in retail stores and dinners. And we have the Hotel California Tequila Cookbook. We’re using part-time ambassadors, and we’ll hire brokers when we sell 4,000-5,000 cases in a region.”
901 Silver Tequila from Diab Importers is set to make itself known, and it has the distinction of being owned by actor and musician Justin Timberlake, but Diab president Kevin Ruder said Timberlake isn’t emphasized in the brand’s promotion.
“We don’t want it to be a celebrity product,” Ruder said.
For now, 901 is just available as Silver-it launched last March in New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and St. Louis-but Reposado will launch this year, and Ruder said Añejo and Extra Añejo versions are aging for a later release.
“All sales are on-premise right now,” Ruder said, “but retail is coming next. We expect to be in 27 markets by the end of February.”
901 has partnered with Live Nation, a live music company, in a multi-year agreement for 901 to be a sponsor at Live Nation venues.
Dulce Vida Spirits of Austin, Texas, launched Dulce Vida Tequila in Austin and San Antonio in October, 2009. The company plans to expand nationally throughout 2010. The labels include Blanco, Reposado and Añejo, all from organic agave plants and all 50 percent ABV. The limited edition bottles contain labels etched in liquid platinum, gold and silver.
Also worth keeping an eye on is Casa 1921 Tequila, with Blanco, Reposado, Reserva Especial Añejo and 1921 Tequila Cream Liqueur, announced in January that it had increased the aging of its 1921 Reserva Especial for up to a year and changed the name from Reserva Especial, adding the word Añejo. This is 1921’s first label in the añejo category.
“Consumers did not understand the term ‘reserva especial,'” says Juan Collado, president of Casa 1921. “Blanco, reposado and añejo are industry standard terms and are categories with which consumers are familiar.”
A further tequila to consider is Paquí Silvera, Reposado and Añejo from Tequila Holdings in California launched in California and Texas last July.
“We’re initially in 250 accounts,” says co-owner John Chappell, “split about 50/50 between retail and on-premise. We’re raising capital and plan to expand to other states.”
The brand’s name, Paquí, comes from the ancient Aztec language, and it means “to be happy.” Paquí is distilled under contract for Tequila Holdings (they use their own distiller) at the Orendain distillery in Mexico. It’s positioned to compete with Patrón and Don Julio.