Tequila's calling for celebrity mixto

“If enough consumers buy into that idea, other brands will start creating similar flavour profiles to match that celebrity brand. If that repeats itself enough times, you end up with something in the US called tequila that tastes nothing like what it was originally intended.

“That would be the saddest day of them all. The shame in my opinion is that they could all do things so much better, smarter, more transparently, respectfully, responsibly, than most of us small guys because they have all the resources at their disposal.”

Paul Hayes, chief executive and cofounder of UK-based premium tequila brand Vivir, believes the influx of celebrity-backed tequila has bene ted even those brands without the luxury of a movie star on their labels. “Most people in the UK just know tequila as a shot, so celebrity endorsement is bringing curiosity to consumers. A lot of tequila purists hate that side of things, but for the category as a whole it’s very beneficial because it’s bringing tequila to the front of people’s minds.”

If there was a gauge to indicate what the trendiest spirits categories are right now, tequila would probably be number one. However, while the spotlight is shining, tequila needs to think about the direction in which it’s heading in order to protect it for future generations. The sustainability of agave cultivation has been a continuous conversation for years and given the rapid rise of 100% agave tequilas, the category needs to react before it’s too late.


With more consumers drinking tequila than ever before and choosing brands which only use 100% agave, the introduction of diffusers and other such technologies have been implemented to make production more efficient. Vivir’s Hayes therefore believes the 100% agave label isn’t necessarily a guarantee for quality tequila.

“We think the 100% agave badge can easily be abused, because brands which use under-mature agave or poor production methods can still act premium, just hiding behind the 100% agave label.”

The inspiration for Vivir came aª er Hayes discovered his allergy to tequilas made using diffusers. However, more recently he launched a premium mixto brand called El Sueño. The tequila is only 70% agave but Hayes believes using the correct production methods and fully mature agave offers more flavour and quality than many using 100%.

“We wanted to hit an entry-level price point while making tequila in a proper way, but to do this using 100% agave is almost impossible, so we went down the mixto route,” adds Hayes.

“What we then realised is that the mixto market is nearly all rubbish. Brands use under-aged agave or diffusers and it’s always 51% agave and 49% other stuff, so we wanted to make a premium mixto which hits the pice point but doesn’t compromise on quality.”

El Sueño has been received well by the trade and according to Hayes has been taken on as a house pour by some top bars instead of established 100% agave tequilas.

Hayes adds: “We had to back ourselves when we launched El Sueño because we knew it was a great product, we just needed to educate the market, because this is where we see the future of the category heading. I think the trend is starting to filter into the US market now and once the big brands take notice then they’ll want a part of it, because it could be huge.”