• 23rd June 2020

Mexico-based packaging for premium spirits: How mezcal is changing the face of the industry

Once upon a time, tequila was seen as the go-to drink for partygoers looking to intensify their buzz. Today, it’s a different story.

Tequila is now a staple for every imaginable celebration, and over the past two decades, trendsetters have declared it an ingredient worthy of the most upscale cocktails – and even as a liquor to be enjoyed on its own. 

As demand has grown for premium and super-premium tequilas so has the demand for luxury packaging to showcase this new category. A global trend has emerged for “sipping tequilas” such as Don Julio 1942 and Gran Patrón Piedra, both of which have garnered rave reviews, and since 2002, sales of super-premium tequila have increased exponentially in the United States by 706%. With this positive escalation, Mexico has also expanded its presence within the category of super-premium tequila, as well as luxury packaging design and manufacturing.

The Mexico-based spirits industry 

In the past few years, other traditional Mexican spirits harvested from the same family of agave plant (but called maguey) have caught the eye of connoisseurs in the drinks world. 

The best known – and the drink that is already carving out its own space in the luxury sector – is mezcal. 

Mezcal has been produced in Mexico for centuries and is distilled in any region where the maguey plant grows. An origin myth tells that the first mezcal was produced when a lightning bolt hit an agave plant, but today the average distillery creates the spirit a little differently: by roasting, mashing and fermenting the agave hearts, then distilling the resulting liquid. 

Mezcal is a spirit known for its sweetness and strong smoky flavours, but it’s also notable for its numerous varieties. Tequila can only be made from blue agave in the state of Jalisco, whereas mezcal is made across Mexico, from over 30 varieties of the plant. 

Perhaps the major appeal of the drink is that it ticks a lot of boxes for young, affluent consumers seeking an authentic experience. Mezcal is widely produced by farmers in small villages, using traditional methods and – as explained in this New Yorker article – “The mezcal boom coincides with the popularity of farm-to-table food [and] the rise of the craft cocktail”. 

All of this has combined to make premium mezcal one of the hottest drinks of the moment. In the United States and Japan, the spirit has become a staple of cocktail bar menus, and many multinationals within the drinks sector have branched out into the spirit – notably Diageo’s Casamigos

Another traditional spirit working its way onto the scene is Raicilla. Raicilla is made in Jalisco, like tequila, and is produced in a similar way to mezcal: the plants are roasted, mashed and left to ferment, before being distilled and diluted with spring water.  

The future of Mexico-based spirits packaging 

At GPA Global Luxury, we have a long history of working with premium distilleries, manufacturing luxury packs for leading tequila brands such as Don Julio and Maestro Dobel. Recently, we’ve been increasingly engaging in conversations with client partners in Mexico who specialise in mezcal and other traditional spirits. In many cases, these distilleries have expressed an interest in pivoting towards a more luxury packaging style.  

Typically, packaging has been rustic, bearing traditional crests, imagery and lettering – raicilla bottles are particularly well known for their paper bag packaging. Now, as the popularity of premium Mexican spirits continues to rise, we can expect to see a new wave of exciting bottle, label and pack designs emerge.  

This bottle and label for Desolas is a great example of packaging that combines the traditional with the modern. Vintage lettering, a green-tinged bottle and textured paper combine with contemporary imagery, clean black line-work and gold foiling. It’s a hint of the exciting packs that should be coming our way in the next few years. 

If you’re a spirits producer and you’re looking to branch out into premium packaging, don’t hesitate to contact GPA Global Luxury. We’re here to help you create memorable luxury packaging that will make your bottle stand out from the crowd. 

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