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Premium Tequila Becoming The Brit’s Drink Of Choice

Posted Sep 01 2009 4:01pm

The word Tequila brings to many people’s mind, bad drinking memories and even worse hangovers. The Mexican national firewater is quintessentially associated very quick inebriation facilitated by a wedge of lime and a mouth twisting pinch of salt.

However, it seems us Brit’s taste have become slightly more discerning of late, as premium tequilas are increasingly popular to supp rather than slam.

In the last ten years, the UK’s consumption of the hard liquor which is made from the agave plant, has zoomed up 300 per cent to 1.35 million litres a year. World wide the tequila market has one similarly well and is expected to be worth in the region of £3bn after increasing 9 per cent every year in the past ten years.

Sales of 100 per cent agave tequilas – a lot of which have been produced from the Weber’s blue agave specie where it can take as much as 12 years to reach maturity and supposedly gives the best flavour - have increased by 30 per cent last year and 60 per cent in 2007, with an estimated 500,000 bottles circulating the likes of Waitrose and hip cocktail bars across the country.

The popularity of these premium tequilas is really down to the Mexican producers, after they decided to boost their planting of blue agave.

In the past however, it was far more common for a tequila to constitute just 50 per cent agave, with the other 50 per cent coming from sugar cane spirit - the combination of which owed to the horrendous hangovers.

The largest producer of premium tequila is Patron, and their sales in the UK have increased by 100 per cent over the last year, despite prices being in the range of £40 to £400. This autumn will see another premium brand being launched in the UK called Clase Azul.

Francisco Alcazar, Patron’s chief distiller, said, “We are getting away from the idea that tequila is a cheap, mass-produced spirit to show the true tequila, made from the highest-quality agaves and with a taste that appeals to the sophisticated palate. This is a drink made to be enjoyed in the same manner as a good single malt. An oak-aged tequila can be justifiably compared in complexity with a fine whisky.”

Thomasina Miers, the winner of Masterchef winner and food broadcaster who opened her Wahaca Mexican restaurant in London, said, “ The really good stuff not only tastes delicious when sipped before supper, or mixed in drinks, but it is a really great spirit to cook with. The sugars in the alcohol come from the blue agave cactus soaking the sun’s rays for up to 12 years before the cactus is ready to be harvested, so you can look at tequila as sunshine distilled in a bottle.”

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