Tequila Is Becoming More Than Just a Special Cinco de Mayo Drink

May 4, 2018, 7:58 PM UTC

If your Cinco de Mayo plans this weekend include sipping some tequila, you’re not alone.

Tequila sales in the U.S. continue to grow. Last year, 17.2 million 9-liter cases of tequila were sold, an 8.5% increase from 2016, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

And the buzz around the liquor, made the blue agave plant, doesn’t appear to be slowing. Celebrities like George Clooney, Diddy, and Justin Timberlake have jumped into the tequila-making business. Even the Backstreet Boys are looking to get in on the action. And large companies are snapping up tequila makers with the high-end brands getting the biggest offers.

In April, rum giant Bacardi completed its acquisition of Patrón tequila in what was among the largest liquor deals in recent years. Bacardi had owned a 30% stake in Patrón Spirits International for nearly a decade, and decided to buy the remainder. Patrón was valued at $5.1 billion in the acquisition.

Meanwhile, last year, Diageo agreed to pay up to $1 billion to buy the fast-growing tequila brand Casamigos, which was founded in 2013 by Academy Award-winning actor George Clooney and two other business partners.

Exports of pure tequila from Mexico to the United States are up 198% in the past decade. The fastest growth has been in craft and high-end tequilas. Both Patron and Casa Noble rolled out ultra high-end tequilas last year, with price tags of $7,500 and $1,500 per bottle, respectively. And for good reason.

Sales of high-end brands have grown 348% in volume in the U.S. since 2002, according to data from the Distilled Spirits Council.

Sales of super premium tequila—the highest end sipping tequilas that typically cost more than $100 a bottle— has skyrocketed 804% since 2002. In 2017, super premium sales, in terms of volume, accounted for 3.2 million 9-liter cases—nearly 19% of all tequila sold in the U.S. that year.

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