Drink Life Beverages

How (Not) To Start A Tequila Brand

So, you want to start your own tequila brand? We love tequila, so we get it

Don’t believe us? Let’s take a look at some real world stats

The Tequila Matchmaker database currently contains 2,345 different tequila brands

In 2019 alone, we saw 181 new brands enter the market, and fight for shelf space with hundreds more

But you can ask yourself how many brands you see on your local retail store/bar shelves

So, fierce competition is one issue, now let’s talk about cost

If you want to start your brand in the near future, current agave prices alone should give

At the rate of 28 pesos/kilo, a truck load of agave needed to fill a 25 ton oven

And even if you wait for agave prices to come down, be prepared for some more sticker

“When you get to 1,000 cases you realize you need more money to expand (for) production, inventory, barrels,

The largest expense right now by far is the cost of agave, with $11

33 USD for a 1 liter bottle of traditionally-made blanco tequila

But for argument’s sake, let’s say you want to make a high quality, small batch,

This does not include the cost of marketing, PR, your time, travel expenses, sample product to give

Let’s assume that you’ll need to add $10/bottle to cover those expenses because you’re

Now you’re looking at approximately $35 USD before you can start turning a profit

Ok, so maybe you have deep pockets and are willing to finance your brand for the medium

What would make it different than what’s already available?

“Great tasting juice and an attractive package, those are table stakes,” says Greg Cohen, a Dallas-based marketing

“The challenge is to demonstrate how and why your brand satisfies an unmet need in the market,”

A luxury tequila for people who like a lot of wood (perhaps whiskey lovers)? That category is

You have to come to Mexico, visit distilleries, meet tequila producers and really see how things work —

And a big part of this is “understanding the dynamics of the agave price cycle and its

This is because when you make your tequila, and how you make it, not only affect your

You’ll also need to learn about the complicated tequila regulations in Mexico, how to register your

This takes time and at least one patient tequilero willing to take you under their wing

A jaded note here: “Sweet” and “smooth” are overplayed

Beware of additives (and know the difference between a tequila with natural aromas and flavors, and those

Ask questions, such as “Why does this tequila have more agave in it than others?”; “What’s

This can be complicated, especially if you don’t speak Spanish

According to the Tequila Matchmaker distillery database, there are currently 135 active tequila distilleries in Mexico

Finding the right one is not easy because each distillery is unique

And the distillery owners we know who make great, traditionally-produced small batch tequilas are few, and cautious

“I want to know that (a new brand partner) has the right motivation and a partnership with

His family distillery gets a lot of interest from would-be brand owners, but their small-batch, artisanal approach

For example, one brand that made the cut is Siembra Spirits, the owner of the highly respected

It’s not a good idea to rely solely upon your tequila preferences, or even that of

Assuming you are going to contract out an existing distillery, before you sign any contracts, you should

You can start by checking a distillery’s reputation by looking up the ratings of all the

The easy way to find this out is to do a tequila NOM search on Tequila Matchmaker,

Each distillery has its own particular style and you should see some similarities, even between different brands

Distilleries that white label will often sell you pre-made, bulk tequila they’ve got in storage

If you aren’t interested in creating your own batch, that’s an easy solution

But if you want to create your own small batch, one that matches the flavor profile you

This is usually difficult for people new to the tequila world

“I love tequila so I decided to make one“ might be true, but it’s not a

(Wink to Guillermo Erickson Sauza because that is an unbeatable story

Ok, so you weren’t fortunate enough to be born into a tequila dynasty (neither were we!)

“I created a true sipping tequila to change people’s minds about tequila from their college experiences

Bloggers, aficionados, early adopters, and some members of the media will want unique production details

Mezcal producers have done a great job of listing production details on their labels, and now there

This is also a great way to highlight how your product is different and unique

If you can’t get us excited about it, it’s probably because there’s nothing new

With so many competitors fighting for attention, marketing is crucial

If your particular area of expertise doesn’t include marketing, this is the time to contract out

Get in touch with experts who know how to reach tequila consumers

All tequila drinkers are not created equal, so it is critical that you know which segment of

If your product uses the diffuser/yeast accelerants/column still/additives production process, you’ll find it

Remember, you’re competing for their attention with 180+ new brands every year

If you can’t provide a stack of purchase orders and a fan following, distributors will see

That’s why he and his wife Leticia tried to self distribute their family-owned brand, Gran Dovejo,

“Even if a bar was interested, and wanting to support a local brand, they were reluctant to

Eventually, the family made a deal with another company to take over the distribution

What about selling directly to consumers online? This sounds like the easiest idea, but there are laws

It is illegal to do business in more than two of those tiers

For example, a bar owner couldn’t legally make their own liquor, and then sell it directly

By now you can probably see why we would not recommend starting a tequila brand—the expense,

“Even with millions to invest, access to distribution, effective marketing, and quality juice, (would be brand owners)

So if you’re just getting started, don’t waste your precious time contacting us because all

– Gonzalo Spindola is a consultant who specializes in all aspects of tequila production for small brands

He has helped several new brands navigate the complex processes (label approvals, bottle sourcing, distillery introductions), and

– Pancho Castillon is a well-connected personality in the tequila world

” One day with him and you’ll feel like you have been best friends forever

– Ana María Romero Mena specializes in creating tequila aroma and flavor profiles

She is a master distiller who has created profiles for a long list of tequila brands

She is known as an expert in sensorial detection, and has trained many people in the industry

He is trustworthy, speaks perfect English, and has a great knowledge of the entire tequila-making process

When you’re ready, take a look at our list of tequila brand marketing programs

Photo (above): Yesenia Cisneros, an employee of the Nuestros Dulces tequila store in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico, walks