Tequila is continuing to making inroads in travel retail as the category goes premium and grabs market share from Scotch and vodka, a leading Tequila maker has said.

Major Tequila players are “dipping their toes in the water”, Patron's COO, John McDonnell, told just-drinks at the TWFA exhibition in Cannes this week. “That's great for all of us," he said. 

"The 1990s was single malt Scotch, now it is vodka. Nobody paid attention to the Tequila category in duty free until we came in and said "you are missing a golden opportunity to premiumise".”

Global Tequila is taking share from vodka in travel retail, the sector's second biggest seller after Scotch, he said. In Asia, wood-aged Tequila such as Patron's Anejo and Reposado brands are grabbing a slice of the whisky market.

“People there like the wood characteristics,” McDonnell said. “They are pre-disposed to that taste.”

In February, McDonnell took charge of the US trade association for distillers, DISCUS. He has since found himself heavily involved in industry debates around the globe, including Sunday sales laws in the US, methanol issues in China and a World Health Organisation mission to reduce global alcohol consumption by 10%.

The biggest issue for DISCUS, according to McDonnell, is the introduction of tax increases by US legislatures, looking to recoup revenue from losing state control of their liquor systems.

McDonnell said Washington state last year added 27% to the cost of a spirits bottle when it voted through an on-trade drinks tax with just a few months notice.

“There's all these issues in different states that you are constantly fighting,” he said.