Chris Brook-Carter

Tequila question

By: Chris Brook-Carter - 6 October 2003 17:44

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Friday was the last day of a week-long tour by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and an assortment of UK and US journalists of the famous gin landmarks of the UK, which included a tour of the Bombay Sapphire Experience at Vinopolis, where I caught up with them.

But though the gin cocktails we were served demonstrated once more the potential for gin to gain lost ground on vodka if it was given the right backing, it was really another white spirit cousin I was interested in - Tequila.

Its was difficult to know from afar how serious to take the news last week that the US drinks industry was deeply concerned by the Mexican Tequila authorities' plans to insist all Tequila be bottled in Mexico. On meeting delegates from DISCUS, the answer quickly became clear - very.

DISCUS's head of communications Frank Coleman told me: "We are going to be very aggressive with this."

At the moment, around 50% of the world's Tequila consumption takes place in the US. Of that total 83% is imported in bulk and then bottled locally, including the major brands Sauza and Jose Cuervo.

Both sides are claiming to be backed by international trade laws, but that's an awful lot of jobs that would go south of the border if Mexico gets its way - jobs both countries' governments need in the present enviroment. With accusations mounting, the US government look set to get involved and I think we can expect a long, drawn out and heated trade battle before a conclusion is reached on this one.
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