Currently and according to information from the Consejo Regulador del Mezcal (Mezcal Regulatory Council) , the body responsible for certifying mezcal production, until the end of 2018 there were a little more than 650 certified brands in the market, of which approximately 400 are Oaxaca and the rest of the other States of the Mexican Republic that belong to the Denominación de Origen (Denomination of Origin)
The war on the shelf
This accelerated increase in trademarks in recent years, causes that in the shelves of distributors of alcoholic beverages, as well as in restaurants and online stores, the brands try to get attention in some way. Some brands do so by bottling the beverage in highly colorful containers, others lower the alcohol level for those consumers who are starting to consume this drink, others show off their distribution channels or create an excellent public relations strategy and others are sold as premium mezcal or ultrapremium.
What is a premium product?
But what is a Premium product? In marketing, the premium adjective is used to differentiate superior quality products or products that provide more benefits than expected or have special characteristics.
According to studies of the world’s leading consumer measurement company, Nielsen. Consumers consider that what makes a product premium is: Being made of high quality materials and ingredients (54%); offers superior function or performance (46%); It has a superior design / style (38%); comes a known and reliable brand (38%); provides a superior consumer experience (37%) comes from a location known for its superior quality (33%); It is expensive (31%); It is handmade or using artisanal methods (29%); only available for people of certain status / exclusivity (22%); It is difficult to find / scarce (21%).
Mezcal Premium and Ultra-premium.
In the case of artisanal or traditional mezcal, made by small producers who have learned from generation to generation to make this product, I would say that they are already premium perse products, since they have those characteristics that, according to consumers, do a premium product For example:
It is a handmade, artisanal product that takes approximately one month to make.
Its raw material, the maguey, unlike the rest of the distilled drinks existing in the market, takes a minimum of 6 to 15 years to ripen, depending on the species.
True artisanal or traditional mezcal produce few liters, which makes them unique. In other words, a mezcal that was made with maguey in the spring of this year, will have other sensory characteristics to one made with the same maguey, but in summer of that same year.
The artisanal or traditional mezcal know-how was inherited from generation, which turns that knowledge into the living culture of a community. That does not have industrial distillates like some whiskeys or Tequilas.
The brands with premium mezcal.
Most mezcal brands that place Premium or Ultra-premium on their label take advantage of the customer’s perception that the product is made of high quality materials or ingredients. The consumer who, having a great variety of brands on the shelves, online stores and the mezcalerias, combined with the little knowledge of the category, because it is carried away by the label.
The brands that hold the label of premium mezcal, in most cases is not for the product, is for the design of their bottles. In others it may be, because its limited production for example a certain type of mezcal from Santa Catarina Minas in Oaxaca or because is the last production of some renowned master mezcalero of the entity.
So when you go to buy a bottle of mezcal I advise you not to get carried away by the premium label, unless you are making a collection of bottles. Check the label first and review the reason for the label. If it is for the last two characteristics that I mentioned in the previous paragraph, you will surely be making a good purchase, if not, it is not worth buying a mezcal for its bottle, also so expensive and that probably the profits obtained from it do not reach the teacher mezcalero, also having better options for better prices.
Finally, I think it would be interesting if there were more environmentally committed and socially responsible brands in the market.