SA Tequila makes inroads in US

T Updated

South African agave are making rapid inroads in North America, the local producers of blue agave spirit said.

An export mission to parts of North America by Agave Distillers of Cape Town recently achieved a number of successes, including the listing of Agava Silver and Agava Gold by the Canadian government's liquor control boards in British Columbia and Alberta.

This means the boards will distribute and promote the products in several hundred outlets in both provinces.

Big US supply contract

"A hugely significant supply contract in Houston, in the US, was also initiated which will result in export of volumes matching 75 percent of Agave Distillers entire first year's supply forecasts to just one client, the company said.

Blue agave is used in parts of Mexico to make tequila.

As is the case with champagne, which may only be called that if made in the Champagne region of France, alcohol brewed from the agave may only be called tequila if made in the district surrounding the town of the same name.

Graaff-Rienet distillery

Agava Distillers operates a distillery in Graaff-Reinet, where the blue agave Americana plant grows in abundance.

Agave chair Keith McLachlan said there was widespread interest in their product.

"Every person we met, from importers to liquor producers, either wants or is extremely interested in our product," said McLachlan.

Unique product

"The reason for this is that we have a unique product: it is high quality, well priced, available in high volumes both bottled and in bulk and there's a great story attached to it — it is the only spirit of its kind to be produced outside of Mexico which is equal, if not better, to their best tequilas," he added.

"The North American market, the biggest consumers of tequila in the world, is clearly excited about and ready for our product. There is a level of dissatisfaction with the quality and price of tequila coming out of Mexico making conditions extremely favourable for us."

Killer plant disease in Mexico

The Mexican industry has been struggling for some years to recover from a killer plant disease that devastated their blue agave plantations.

McLachlan said his delegation also visited London where they were in the final stage of concluding a deal with a major British distributor.

Export contracts with several other European importers were also initiated during the visit.

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