June 30, 2022
Have Tequila and Whiskey Taken the Top Spots Among Other Spirits?

This year, Americans for the first time will spend more money on mezcal and tequila, both alcohols made from agave plants, than they will on US-made whiskeys.

By 2023, the category also will have supplanted vodka, making it the US’s most-purchased spirit by value, at around $13.3 billion, versus $12.5 billion for vodka and $12.3 billion for US whiskey, according to research released this week by IWSR.

The top-growing three tequila brands from 2016 to 2021 by volume were Casamigos, now owned by Diageo Plc, and independents Clase Azul and Piedra Azul, according to IWSR. The top three mezcals by the same measure were Diageo’s Pierde Almas and independents Bozal and Ilegal, according to the research firm, which tracks global alcohol trends.

In 2021, the two agave-based alcohols together were the fastest-growing category of US spirits, putting them in a close tie with US whiskey as the nation’s second-most valuable category after vodka in sales by value, according to IWSR.

Mezcal, tequila’s smokier-flavored cousin, usually cooked with wood, charcoal and clay instead of in copper pots, is by far the faster-growing drink. In the US, it grew 53% by value in 2021 over 2020, compared with tequila, which grew just 27%. Combined, they form a category of alcohols made from the large, spiky agave plants, expected to grow 81% by value in the US from 2021 to 2026, according to IWSR.

The agave alcohols, which originated in Mexico, aren’t just popular in the Americas. The UK, Russia, Germany and Japan are among the 10 largest markets for the spirits. Of those top 10, the fastest-growing is Canada, where agave-based spirits are expected to grow 93% by volume and 109% by value from 2021 to 2026.


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