Hollywood stars are increasingly making their mark in the drinks industry, with a roster that includes even model and reality TV star Kendall Jenner, owning stakes in tequila brands. This trend has sparked a conversation about the overshadowing of locally-sourced, family-owned, and Mexican-owned tequila brands. These authentic brands, with rich, generation-spanning legacies, often go unnoticed in the glitz and glamour of celebrity-endorsed spirits.
The global tequila market is expected to reach a whopping $6.36 billion US by 2025 according to HTF Market Report. This might explain why celebrities such as Chris Noth, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Justin Timberlake have invested in tequila. And who could forget George Clooney’s Casamigos, which sold to British multinational Diageo for an astounding $1 billion US back in 2017?
However, amidst Hollywood’s penchant for Mexican spirits, numerous authentic Mexican-owned tequila brands deserve our patronage to continue their traditional practices, passed down through generations. In this guide, we bring you a list of some of these brands and where to purchase them, adding an authentic touch to your Tequila Sunrises and Mexican Mules.
Gran Centenario Tequila
Founded in 1857 by the first-ever Tequila Master Distiller, Lázaro Gallardo, Gran Centenario Tequila commemorates the start of a new century. Today, this brand maintains a rich history of over 160 years and is still a product of a family-owned business. The unique Selección Suave™ proprietary process involves blending the richest and smoothest tequilas to yield a superior quality and taste. You can still purchase it in the original bottle, designed by Lázaro’s son in 1920, to honour Mexico’s independence from Spain.
Gran Centenario Anejo Tequila, £67.99, visit Selfridges
Clase Azul Tequila
Founded in 2000 by Arturo Lomeli, Clase Azul is world-class tequila bottled in a handmade piece of art. This brand revitalises the local economy of Santa Maria Canchesda, a small mountainous town in Mexico, and is made from 100% organic Tequilana Weber Blue agaves. Unique ceramic decanters, handcrafted by 180 local employees, house the tequila. In 2019, despite receiving a $1 billion US offer to acquire the company, the owners declined.
Clase Azul Reposado Tequila, £250, visit Harvey Nichols
The Camarena family has been creating tequila since 1937. In 2008, they partnered with bar and restaurant owner Tomas Estes, and thus, Tequila Ocho was born. This is the first-ever single-field tequila, owing to its artisanal method and exclusive use of agave from their own fields. The name ‘Ocho,’ or ‘eight’ in English, represents the 8 weeks and 8 days Ocho Reposado Tequila is aged for.
Ocho Single Barrel Anejo Tequila, £104.94, visit Master of Malt
Tequila Arette, created by Eduardo and Jaime Orendain, utilises agave exclusively grown on the outskirts of the town of Tequila. This unique cultivation method ensures a more full-bodied liqueur due to its high fibre and low water content. Now considered a classic by connoisseurs, Tequila Arette boasts a balanced combination of smoothness and sweetness.
Arette Unique Extra Anejo Tequila, £125, visit The Whisky Exchange
Despite its seemingly young age of 18 years, Tequila Fortaleza has a deep-rooted history stretching back to 1873. It originated from the La Perseverancia distillery, the first exporter of the Mexican spirit to the US. After a brief period of closure, it returned to production in the late 90s and was relaunched in 2005. Today, it is still made in the traditional way, using a small brick oven for the agave, a tahona for extraction, wood tanks for fermentation, and copper pots for distillation.
Tequila Fortaleza Blanco, £74.99, visit Selfridges