StateWays - May/June 2016

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays ■ ■ May/June 2016 32 A t a time when tequila sales are booming both in the U.S. and internationally, and a fl ood of new brands continue to appear at retailers' doors, it's diffi cult to assemble a price assortment that sticks to value as the most important matter. Part of the problem is that tequila is so tied in these days with luxury imagery, celebrity promotion and brands that are contracted rather than produced by the brand owner. Not that those brands can't be quality (after all, when Patron broke open the luxury tequila market, its liquid was being produced at a distillery it didn't own). With so much of the brand identifi cation tied to position- ing, it can be hard to know how exactly one tequila differs from another. "Only a few brands are explaining how they make their tequila, but the good news is that there is a lot of information out there these days and a little research will tell you all you need to know," says Patron's production manager, Antonio Rodriguez. Beyond marketing and promotion, there are a limited num- ber of factors that impact the quality and production expenses related to making a tequila, and in this and a subsequent piece on aged tequila expressions, the July/August issue of Beverage Dynamics will tease out the various steps that create quality expressions in aged tequila. Labor and time create the major costs. "There are tequilas that are produced less cost-effective than others, with every- thing cut and harvested and roasted by hand," says Beam Sun- tory master spirits ambassador Iain McCallum. "Whenever you use handcrafted methods, you are being less effi cient and so there is likely to be a higher cost associated." EMPHASIS ON AGAVE First and foremost, of course, there are the agaves. The increase in focus on 100% blue Weber agave tequilas means produc- ers are less frequently including other sweeteners as they do in mixto tequilas, and all ultra- and super-premium tequilas are generally 100% agave. Simple enough, but which agaves? From where? How old? With what sugar content? How are they processed? Since creating tequila is a long-term agricultural process - agaves must grow for 5 to 12 years before being suitable for harvest - leaving money in the ground can be costly. Says Inaki Orozco, owner of Riazul tequila, "The land where my agaves grow sits in a very highly elevated point in Jalisco where there are lots of meteorological threats. We had snow this March, something that hasn't happened in 30 years and we lost a num- ber of baby agaves to the frost. This elevation poses risks and drives maintenance costs of the plants higher." Examining the Mexican spirit's ingredients, production methods and distillation. Tequila In-Depth (Part One) BY JACK ROBERTIELLO More on Tequila The July/August issue of Beverage Dynamics will examine aged tequila.

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