Unlike the cheap and nasty Tequila I vaguely remember downing alongside a lick of salt and a wedge of lemon, the premiumisation of tequila has well and truly taken hold. Aficionados drink theirs neat. A fitting toast to a drink with a fascinating history.
Like Port from Portugal and Champagne or Cognac from France, Tequila has a controlled Appellation of Origin designation, so unless it’s made in specific regions of Mexico, it can’t be called Tequila. Produced from the fermented juice of the agave plant, these plants prefer unlikely growing conditions - a lofty 2100m above sea level if you please, in mineral-rich volcanic soil. Late bloomers, the agave needs at least eight years (sometimes fourteen) to mature before harvesters, also known as Jimadors, extract the pinἀ (heart) and set to work distilling it. Unlike grape vines which produce annual harvests – each agave plant has but one heart and thus just one harvest.
So why the increased interest in ultra-premium tequila as a sipping drink and in tequila-based cocktails? The USA is the largest tequila market, making up over 56% of the global total. A highly sophisticated market when it comes to tequila, a large section of American consumers are moving from regular tequilas towards premium and ultra-premium tequilas such as Patron and the recently released Avión tequila.
In keeping with this general trend towards premiumisation, the South African market is growing at an inflation-enviable rate of 16,2% over the last 12 months. It seems the sip and savour culture introduced by single malt whisky and cognac brands is drip-feeding into the ultra-premium tequila territory, where brands such as Avión’s Reposado resides.
Launched in 2010 by entrepreneur Ken Austen, Avión’s story is one of passion and a relentless pursuit of the best through painstaking attention to detail. A long-time tequila aficionado, Austen wanted to share his passion for great tequila with the world. Avión is the result. Produced in Jesus Maria, a town at the highest elevation in Jalisco, Mexico and the home of a multi-generational agave growing family committed to the town and the sustainability of their art, Avión was recognised as the World’s Best Tasting Tequila at the San Francisco Worlds Spirits competition.
Aimed at those consumers who want to set themselves apart while enjoying an authentic spirit, I suggest you go out and buy a bottle of serious tequila… Patron, Don Julio or Avión. Then decide for yourself whether the hype is warranted.