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As tequila continues to rise in sales ranks,
there has been a shift in customer
perception of what tequila is and what it
can be. So what exactly is premium tequila and how
is it set apart from the rest?
According to Alex 'Happy' Gilmour, manager at
Tio's Ceveceria in Sydney's Surry Hills, what makes a
tequila premium, is very simple.
"What is important is taste -- obviously -- and
production method. I don't give a rats about
marketing," he says. "One of my favourite tequilas is
famous because of its production method -- they've
openly admitted to using diffusers in Herradura
Antiguo Reposado and its dope. Again, it's simple
and tasty and that is all I care about."
KNOW YOUR PREMIUM PRODUCT
Gilmour is a self-confessed tequila nerd who is also
studying the art of distilling his favourite liquid on
the side, and he's also pretty clear that sustainability
is a key factor in premium brands. He believes that
bartenders should know what brands are actively
involved in the community in Mexico.
"There are good tequilas out there to
get people back onto tequila, because
coughing and spluttering a er a shot
isn't just a bad look for RSA, who
actually wants that to happen?"
-- Alex Gilmour
According to Octavio Gomez-Haro,
co-owner of Los Vidas, avoiding
premium tequilas because of price
points is damaging to everyone.
"You're giving a false entry
point -- when people get to taste
one that they can buy for just four
or five dollars verses something
you're paying 12 dollars for, it's
sometimes hard to justify the price
point to a regular consumer," he
says. "So I would suggest avoiding
cheap expressions -- except maybe
in a frozen margarita. In the end
you will just get people who have
a bad experience and there is no
sustainability in that, it becomes
a roadblock for drinkers. Getting
people to be brave enough to move
past a bad experience is hard, and if
you give them something that has a
low quality in production and price
point, well, it really just shouldn't
TOP TIP: TO SHOT OR
Alex Gilmour: I can't say a definitive
answer because I don't think that
people shouldn't shoot tequila. I
don't see why not? You're talking
about spirits that have such an
ingrained personal history for
people. Everyone associates tequila
with getting ridiculously drunk and
being debaucherous and some of
their best nights out ever. But for
me, if you want to have a quick
drink, there's nothing wrong with
shooting tequila. It's about flavour
profile and if you like tequila you
are going to drink it. A shot can be
perfect. I drink a sipper of tequila
in the shower on my birthday every
year. Everything has a time and a
place. But still, all of our staff offer
either a shot or a sipper to every
customer -- then that gets them
curious about what a sipper is.
Some of them for the price point,
you just wouldn't shoot them, and
others are so delicate you lose
the nuances in the shot. At Tio's
we're not focussing on stopping
people from doing shots, we're just
focussing on education.
"If you're talking about the things you like to
drink and the things you want to put in your glass,
you should be asking how they're made," he says.
CONVINCE YOUR CUSTOMERS
While Gilmour says that the number of customers
requesting premium products is climbing, it isn't yet
a case of people name dropping brands when they
order. He believes it is often because their idea of
tequila as a premium product can be clouded.
"You often have to work around people's
perceptions. When people used to come into
Different Drummer in Glebe they would say, 'I would
like a really nice whisky', so I would say 'let's try
something a bit different' and they would say 'that's
delicious, it's much sweeter than I'm used to...' and I
would say, 'yeah, it's called tequila'," he says.
"So that was how I dealt with it for a long time.
It's the same here when it comes to people asking
for smoky whisky, and we always recommend
mezcal, so that it starts a conversation. There isn't
so much brand calling, but definitely an openness
to try. It's also very price point dependent. $17 is
the magic number to get them over the line. $15 is
golden, $17 is a little harder."
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