Stateways March April 2018

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays | | March/April 2018 38 W hen you can sell twice as much as you have, you can be sure what you've got is hot. That's what happened recently at Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits in Annapolis, Maryland, when owner David Marberger offered his customers a chance to buy tick- ets to "Tequila 101." The event was a tasting and education session with food and numerous tequila samples provided by representatives from two high-end suppliers (Patron and Casa Noble). Tickets for the 40 or so seats at the educational session disappeared fast, and not just because each supplier was pouring samples and touting their wares. "We told them, 'Listen, we're not here for you to sell people on your particular brand, but to educate these folks on tequila in general.' And they were fi ne with that," Marberger says. The two-hour paid event sold out fast, which pleased Marberger. "An educated consumer is the best consumer we could have," he adds. Knowledgeable reps from high-end brands visiting retailers to discuss the production processes and regional infl uences that create different-tasting tequilas provide the sort of educational opportunity both suppliers and retailers are eager for. The more customers know about the burgeoning, high-end tequila category, the more likely they are to buy. It's exactly the sort of support retailers can turn into profi t. Based on the enthusiasm Marberger experienced, it's no wonder tequila continues its multi-year surge in popularity. In 2017 the category grew about 8.5 percent in volume (more than 1.3 million cases) and nearly 10 percent in value, with the most impressive growth coming at the high-end premium (14.1 percent) and super premium (12.2 percent) segments, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. "Tequila is growing fastest at the upscale end, as premiumization is extremely active here for all Mexican spirits," says Jill Palais, senior brand manager of the William Grant and Sons Mex- ican portfolio of Milagro tequila, Montelobos mezcal and Ancho Reyes cordials. Milagro has By JACK ROBERTIELLO been growing double digits, this year aiming to top 250,000 cases. "I checked our numbers and tequila was our number-one increased liquor cate- gory, with almost a 20 percent increase last year. That's about $180,000 in sales for the category, which is pretty nice for us," says Tom Agnes, liquor operations manager at the two-unit Brooklyn Center Liquor in TEQUILA ON THE TEQUILA RISE "I CHECKED OUR NUMBERS AND TEQUILA WAS OUR NUMBER-ONE INCREASED LIQUOR CATEGORY, WITH ALMOST A 20 PERCENT INCREASE LAST YEAR." - Tom Agnes, Liquor Operations for Brooklyn Center Liquor PHOTO CREDIT: ©ISTOCK.COM/MARIAUSPENSKAYA

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