Innovation has been a significant driver in the spirits industry this year. For tequila, in terms of innovation, there are far fewer tools in the toolkit than vodka or whiskey. Sure, you can age your tequila longer and do a super extra-anejo tequila, but many experts agree that after about six years of age, tequila doesn’t really get much better. While there have been some moves in the flavored tequila space, it isn’t a part of the category that is really finding much traction. The sweet spot for tequila innovation really seems to have been found in the union of tequila, coffee, and chocolate, all flavors which are extremely compatible. Patron was an early mover in this space with their XO Cafe Tequila, which they followed up with XO Cafe Dark Coco. Both offerings have seen great success. Part of Patron’s success in this space has been price driven, with coffee liqueur offerings often priced as much as half their standard tequila offerings.
It is really no surprise, then, to see Tequila Avion again gunning after Patron’s territory with their Avion Espresso Liqueur. Tequila Avion literally came out of nowhere and quickly became a serious contender in the ultra premium tequila category as well as a clear rival to Patron. What’s amazing with Avion Espresso is that not only is Avion competing with one of Patron’s key growth products, they are also competing with them on price.
Avion Espresso Liqueur (35% AVB / 70 proof, $24.99) – there’s no doubt about it, Avion’s tequila-based liqueur has its sights set squarely on Patron’s XO Cafe. It’s matched proof, price, and is even in a nice frosted bottle. In line with Avion’s ethos of doing things better, the Avion Espresso Liqueur uses Italian Espresso along with their silver tequila and agave. Using espresso is a step up from Patron who uses coffee in their mix. The nose on the Avion Espresso Liqueur is deep, rich, and dark roasted espresso balanced perfectly with Avion’s signature silver tequila along with roasted agave, white pepper, and dark chocolate. The entry carries the balance between espresso and tequila marvelously with an ideal level of sweetness to counterpoint the bitterness from the dark espresso. In the midpalate there’s no doubt that you are drinking tequila as the flavors from the agave spirit really shine through. Tequila Avion Silver is generally quite spicy and clean, but in the Avion Espresso Liqueur the spice level is really brought down a notch by the sweet agave. There is still a general character of cleanness even though it’s a liqueur. At the end of the midpalate the tequila notes shrink back a bit to permit the espresso notes to re-emerge, and it’s those espresso notes which really carry through to the finish which is long, slightly sweet, rich espresso.
Tasted side by side with Patron’s XO Cafe, there really is no competition. Avion Espresso Liqueur’s coffee notes are deeper, richer, and better tasting. It’s like comparing a cup of drip coffee to a nice cup of espresso – the aromatics, richness, and dimensionality just can’t compete. Avion’s flavor integration and balance are also significantly better than Patron’s. That’s saying a lot, as Patron XO Cafe is a solid product.
While there’s no mention of it on the label (the TTB prohibits any discussion from a brand on caffeine content in a spirit), Avion Espresso Liqueur does indeed contain brewed espresso and it clearly has a caffeine boost. This is massively important as energy drinks begin to fall out of favor with at least one state (Tennessee and their HB 347) exploring making it a misdemeanor to serve energy drinks and alcohol. We anticipate that this will result in a huge boost to coffee-based spirits which will come in and replace popular late night boost drinks like Jager Bombs and Vodka and Redbull.
Tequila Avion has become the fastest growing ultra-premium tequila in the world (source: Neilson 2012), and they’ve done this through quality products, smart pricing, and great marketing. Tequila Avion Espresso Liqueur is a fantastic addition to Avion’s line of products and could quickly become one of their best selling. Put simply, it’s a great product.