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Tequila Sunrise

Tequila is the latest premium spirit filling up the classiest of glasses; and contrary to its straight-shooting past, this grown-up tipple is a flavour experience you’re bound to remember the next day.


Ten years ago, a tray lined with salt-rimmed tequila shots seemed like the one and only way to start a party. But you’re older now; more sophisticated and mature, and much less interested in the short-lived pleasures of a tipsy night on the town... right? Luckily, just as your tastes have grown and evolved with time, so has tequila — and with modern distilleries taking the spirit back to its traditional, Mexican roots, it’s now a well-rounded tipple you can savour without a wince or a lime wedge.


The proof is in the statistics, as this decade has seen the spirit’s popularity boom in line with our expanding palettes. Agave-based alcohol is predicted to overtake vodka in 2023 to become the largest spirit category by value globally; plus, in 2021, tequila’s market revenue was valued at $9.7 billion and was predicted to reach $13.5 billion by 2028, according to Vantage Market Research. Loosely, this translates to ‘tequila is seriously trending right now’ — so, unsurprisingly, some of the world’s biggest celebs have been quick to join the hype too. From Kendall Jenner-owned 818 Tequila, to The Rock’s Teremana Tequila made in the Jalisco Highlands, we are spoiled 
for choice when it comes to A-lister quality brands — but while celebrity endorsements have a role to play in the spirit’s recent shoot to fame, Chris Swonger, president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the US, believes its renewed appeal goes beyond influencer trends and comes down to our increasing respect for real flavour and authenticity when it comes to our booze choices. “The booming interest in both tequila and mezcal is really being driven by spirits’ deep-rooted heritage and tradition,” says Swonger. Just like the intricate distillation and ageing of whisky is key to its ultimate impression on the palate, the lesser-known ancient rituals behind tequila production are infused into every bottle — making it truly worthy of the slow, contemplative sip. There’s the harvesting of the Blue Weber variety agave plant which (not unlike tequila’s youngest connoisseurs) takes around 8 or 12 years to mature fully. Once grown, it is cut by hand by the specially skilled ‘jimadores’ with a special tool called ‘coa’ to remove the spiky leaves and reveal the heart. Then, the painstaking crushing of the plants using a ‘tahona’ (a massive stone wheel) in line with the age-old tradition, before the liquid is fermented and double, or even triple distilled to give it a complex flavour profile that’s simply too good to pour down your throat.


As well as a greater appreciation for the skill and toil behind the tipple (and for not waking up reeling after a tequila shot fuelled soiree), we are much wiser to sustainability — and even big-name tequila brands like Jose Cuervo and Patrón are taking note of consumers’ people- and planet-friendly drink preferences. In fact, Patrón was the first distillery to install a natural gas pipeline to act as its main energy source, paving the way for reducing CO2 emissions in the tequila manufacturing process. With agave farming using up a significant amount of water in traditionally dry climates, they also pioneered a state-of-the-art, reverse osmosis water treatment system that recovers up to 70 per cent of the water used for distilling. Plus, as the precious agave plant does not grow back once harvested, Patrón works with Mexico’s farmers to grow and nurture the best local agave and support the communities who have farmed it for generations.

The next time you are presented with a tequila-filled shot glass, you can rest assured that its downing days are over — and with no one around to announce the dreaded ‘SHOTS!’ ritual, there is nothing left to do but to sit back, sip and savour the rich tradition distilled into every single drop.