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How To Start Your Own Tequila Brand: Checklist (2023)

Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Starting your own tequila brand is a feat not for the fainthearted.

It requires plenty of research, hefty funding, and an understanding of the regulations surrounding the blue agave spirit. 

If you believe you have what it takes, here are the ways on how to start your own tequila brand. 

10 Steps To Start Your Own Tequila Brand 

1. Understand The Essence Of Tequila

pouring tequila on a glass

Understanding your business is the first step to launching it. In a tequila brand business venture, you must understand the essence of tequila. [1

This distilled spirit is made predominantly with blue agaves harvested in the areas surrounding Tequila, Mexico. 

The blue agave plant is baked first before its juices are fermented in barrels. Once this process is done, they are distilled to make the alcoholic spirit. 

Furthermore, tequila can only be distilled and produced in five Mexican states: Jalisco, the main state (both highlands and lowlands), Guanajuato, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, and Nayarit. 

2. Learn All Tequila Regulations 

Like other spirits, specific regulations must be adhered to before a spirit can legally be called tequila. These are regulated by the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT). 

We had discussed the first in number one: tequila can only be produced within the five Mexican regions listed above. 

Regulated tequila bottle labels should have a NOM number (Norma Oficial Mexicana) that tells you exactly which authorized distillery made it. 

Those labeled as 100 percent agave must only be made from sugars extracted from the blue agave weber plant. 

“Even with millions to invest, access to distribution, effective marketing, and quality juice, (would-be brand owners) will also need a lot of luck.”

– Clayton Sczcech, Agave Spirits Specialist

Those made from less than 100 percent agave are labeled as mixto. These should have at least 51 percent blue agave.

The remainder can come from non-agave sugars (primarily sugar cane) as long as they are natural ingredients. 

Lastly, tequila must contain at least 38 percent alcohol and be bottled anywhere from 35 to 55 percent ABV. 

3. Know Your Market Intimately

group of people having a tequila shots

Knowing who your target market is is crucial for your tequila business.

It’s important to understand who your customer is and why they enjoy their tequila the way they do.

What sort of feeling do you want your customers to have when they think of your tequila brand

When you’ve taken the time to research and understand these things, they will greatly shape your marketing materials so you can reach your customers better. 

4. Create An Easy To Remember Brand Name

It’s now time for the fun part — choosing the brand name! Getting the help of your family or friends is always encouraged since more heads are better than one. 

You want a brand name that will represent your tequila brand in a positive light. 

It should be memorable to stand out amongst the other established tequila brands in the industry but not so unique that others will have difficulty spelling it. 

Choosing a name that won’t be construed as offensive or suggestive is also important. 

Lastly, do your research to ensure that your chosen name hasn’t been trademarked yet. 

5. Determine The Cost Of Materials & Draft A Budget 

Determining the cost of materials and drafting a budget is key to getting your tequila business off the ground. 

The first thing to note is your competitors’ current retail pricing. How much are they charging for their tequila? 

Then, consider the agaves you will be using to make your spirit. Remember that the agaves can only be grown in the Jalisco region, so you also have to consider taxes. 

You also have to consider packaging, labeling, and the like and include those in your budget, too. 

Equipment, tools, and supplies are another expense to starting a tequila brand.

You can consider equipment rental or leasing to save money, especially for big-ticket purchases. 

6. Draft A Business Plan & Marketing Strategy 

Developing a business plan is crucial to starting your own tequila business (or just about any business).

Remember to set realistic goals and expectations while drafting your business plan. [2]

This business plan should consider the different elements of the business, including the start-up costs, day-to-day operations, and marketing strategy. 

It’s important to develop the business plan meticulously as it’s what prospective investors will want to look at should you seek help funding your business. 

7. Build An Experienced Team To Develop Your Brand

checking quality of tequila

You likely want to get people on board to help you develop your brand.

As CEO of the tequila brand, it is your job to ensure everyone works harmoniously to achieve your vision. 

Get a maestro tequilero and production team on board to help you with the agave spirit.

They’ll surely know more about how you can develop it to better suit your client’s palate. 

You also want to get a PR and marketing team to help you with your marketing strategy.

This team does the heavy lifting of building your brand and having it reach your target audience. 

Getting an accounting team on board is also important to help you with all the financial aspects of running the business. 

8. Product Development Process 

Integrated Beverage Developer

You can opt to go with an integrated beverage developer to handle your tequila brand.

These types of businesses have plenty of experience in the industry and take care of the entire process of tequila production, from bottling to distribution, while keeping compliant with the regulations surrounding the spirit. 

Of course, as the business owner, you are still responsible for making the final decision.

Still, they will guide you along the way and provide valuable insights about appropriate actions you can take based on your end goals. 

Distillery

On the other hand, if you choose to work with a distillery, you’re mostly left to your own devices.

It is likened to an “a la carte” process, and you are left to decide everything on your own. They only distill the product for you. 

Everything else, like the supply chain, logistics, and legal compliance, will solely be your responsibility. 

9. Register The Brand In Mexico

A tequila brand can only be legally considered as tequila if registered in Mexico. It also needs to be classified with a Denomination of Origin. 

This lengthy process requires you to get involved with multiple elements (not necessarily only the name).

For example, if your brand identity or bottle is too close to an existing business, you might want to re-think the product, as you could be infringing on trademark regulations. 

10. Plan The Distribution Process

tequila bottle sample

Lastly, we suggest scheduling a meeting with trusted distributors and planning the distribution process, so your tequila can reach the target audience. 

Make sure you brush up on tequila importing laws and get federal and state licenses.

The CBP, FDA, APHIS, and other agencies at the state level are involved here. 

Once you have ironed everything out, only then will you be able to legally distribute your tequila in the US. 

FAQs 

How much does it cost to make your own brand of tequila?

You will likely need to shell out at least $100,000 to make your own brand of tequila. This includes the making, shelves, and storage. 

Is creating a tequila brand a good investment?

It depends. Starting any business comes with plenty of risks, and a tequila brand is no exception.

While the tequila business is booming, it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll make money immediately. 

Remember to give your 100 percent to this business venture and never lose heart, but also know when to cut your losses. 

Is it hard to start your own tequila brand?

Yes, it’s difficult to start your own tequila brand. Tequila is one of the strictest spirits regarding regulations, not to mention the fact that it’s pretty difficult to import to the United States. 

Key Takeaways 

If you’re dead sure about starting your own tequila brand, we hope this article has shed some light on everything you need to know. 

Starting your own tequila brand is undoubtedly difficult. For one, it’s one of the most regulated spirits, with distribution equally difficult. 

Of course, if you have a business plan and marketing strategy and understand the essence of what constitutes great tequila, you might have a fighting chance. 

References: 

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/melissahouston/2020/08/24/why-its-so-important-that-you-should-know-your-business-numbers/ 
  2. https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan 

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