According to research firm, Technavio, the increasing disposable incomes and the lifestyle changes of consumers have considerably increased the demand for mezcal. Premium spirits such as mezcal, tequila, gin, Scotch whiskey, and Irish whiskey have become a status symbol, especially among youth.
Lead analyst at Technavio, Manjunath Jagannathan states, “The increasing number of mezcalerias and the rising number of export brands continue to fuel the mezcal growth revolution in bars, pubs, and liquor stores across the world. With mezcal exports increased to 52 countries, it now represents 0.03% and 0.02% of the global spirits market, in terms of revenue and volume shares, respectively.”
The report goes on to say that the mezcal market has the presence of few key large and small vendors who compete based on product differentiation, distribution, price, quality, and promotion. Vendors in the mezcal tequila market are offering innovative and differentiated products to cater to the changing tastes, preferences, and buying patterns of the consumers. Rapid technological changes and intense competition are the major factors that affect the performance of the vendors in this marketspace.
The leading vendors in the market are:
- Destilería Tlacolula (DT)
- Ilegal Mezcal (IM)
- Pernod Ricard (PR)
- Pierde Almas (PA)
- William Grant & Sons (WGS)
The other prominent vendors in the market are El Silencio Holdings, El Tinieblo, Fidencio Mezcal, GEM & BOLT, HEAVY MÉTL PREMIUM IMPORTS, Lágrimas de Dolores, Los Danzantes, Mezcal Vago, and Mezcales de Leyenda.
Mezcal joven is primarily preferred by consumers as it doesn’t age and remains fresh. The authentic flavor and smoky nature of the mezcal joven is retained even after long periods of time. According to Technavio’s industry research analysis, this segment will account for the major shares of the mezcal tequila market during the next few years.
Outside of Mexico, the U.S. is the largest mezcal market across the globe. Factors such as the rising disposable incomes of consumers in Latin America, the increasing tequila and mezcal consumption in the U.S., and the rising exports of mezcal from Mexico to the rest of the world, will contribute to the growth of the mezcal tequila market in the Americas.
We spoke to some independent brands to get their take on what’s to come.
Monteleobos Mezcal Espadín
Monteleobos Mezcal Espadín, was created by industry veteran and world-renowned agave expert Ivan Saldana and Milagro tequila founders Daniel Schneeweiss and Moy Guindi. Together, with fifth-generation master mezcalero, Don Abel Lopez, they created Monteleobos Mezcal Espadín. It was first imported to the US in September of 2012, fulfilling a burgeoning demand for quality mezcal in the states.
So far, Montelobos is performing well, expanding market share. Depletions grew at +82% in 2017, which was a significant increase over 2016 and nearly 2x the category growth. While it’s anticiopated that the category will continue its rapid growth based on increased consumer demand. The only constraints will be demand outpacing supply. As far as agave supply, Montelobos controls the supply of its 100% organic cultivated and sustainable agave, therefore the brand won’t have to worry about being affected by an agave supply shortage.
The brand recently launched an evolved bottle that maintains much of its original look and feel but is 25% lighter and better suited for use in cocktails. The opportunity was used to also update the labels, clearly articulating 100% organic and sustainable positioning and artisanal process.
Montelobos Mezcal Joven $39.99
The hand-crafted process of Montelobos Mezcal Joven lends well to a balanced and unique taste profile that allows the four base flavor notes of mezcal to shine; green agave, roasted agave, smoke and wild fermentation. Upon sipping, roasted agave, vanilla, and peppers counter the notes of firewood, and the earthy tones of the wilderness. The smokiness shifts between chili and dark chocolate and lingers on the palate.
Mezcales de Leyenda
Founded in 2006, Mezcales de Leyenda began selling into the U.S. in 2009.
Danny Mena, Co-Founder or Mezcales de Leyenda has two brands under his company: Mezcales de Leyenda and Pelotón de la Muerte. “At Mezcales de Leyenda we have five different mezcales, each from a different region in Mexico, each from a different agave,” he explains. “These retail between $60 and $90 a bottle. Our mezcal brand Pelotón de la Muerte retails at about $35 on a 750mL (we also have a 1L bottle).”
Mezcales de Leyenda is best consumed neat. It’s a complex mezcal and can be mixed with the appropriate ingredients but doesn’t necessarily work wonderfully across the board. Pelotón de la Muerte is a little more versatile. “It’s a very clean, smooth mezcal that works great in a variety of cocktails, but is also nice sipper. Combined, the brands account for about 5% of the category. With mezcal accounting for less than 0.5% of the entire market,” says Mena.
“Though there isn’t much data for the industry on demographics, what we have seen firsthand is mezcal is consumed in its majority in urban populations with a demographic of 25-40 year old. We package our mezcal in recycled glass bottles, our labels are recycled paper and we use cork from certified cork trees from Portugal. So, we have taken the approach of being sustainable from start to finish with our mezcals.”
If your customers are seeking authenticity, Mezcales de Leyenda is a great sell. “We are one of the bigger brands in Mexico and we represent real mezcaleros from across the country. We offer the most diverse collection of mezcals of anyone. In our portfolio we have five different mezcales from five different states, all from different agaves, showcasing the traditions of each region,” Mena adds.
Mezcales de Leyenda $60 – $90
Mezcales de Leyenda Oaxaca: Lightly smoked, citrus notes, with a sweet long finish.
Mezcales de Leyenda San Luis Potosí: Jalapeño on the nose, turning to sweet bell pepper on palate, with a bit of brine and a sweet finish.
Mezcales de Leyenda Guerrero: Tropical tones of pineapple, plantain and papaya, with a bit of black pepper, and long finish with notes of peat on the back end.
Mezcales de Leyenda Durango: A rich creamy mezcal, with notes of cocoa, black cherry, mesquite with a touch of salinity.
Mezcales de Leyenda Puebla: A bright mezcal with tones of menthol and eucalyptus with an earthy forest floor on the midpalate with a nice sweet finish.
Pelotón de la Muerte $32.99
Pelotón de la Muerte: Nice balanced smoke on the front end, with a strong herbaceous note, and a sweet caramel finish.
Mena sees a bright future for this ancient spirit, “We are growing, and a lot of money keeps coming into the category from different bigger players. We should continue to expect mezcal to grow faster than the industry is, as a whole. I think spirits are starting to get their day in the sun and as people start to better understand these spirits, people will only fall in love with them more and more.”
Recipe for Pelotón Punch Made with Pelotón de la Muerte