Single Barrel Tequilas Gain Traction At Beverage Alcohol Retail Tier

The fastest-growing spirits category in the United States gets a single barrel turbo boost.

At Moreno’s Casa Tequilera & Liquors in Chicago, single barrel Tequilas (selection pictured) attract consumers who seek a unique experience.
At Moreno’s Casa Tequilera & Liquors in Chicago, single barrel Tequilas (selection pictured) attract consumers who seek a unique experience.

Looking to meet demand for unique experiences and high-end offerings, beverage alcohol retailers are rolling out single barrel Tequilas. “A lot of people are going to the single barrel Tequilas because they’re already accustomed to single barrel whiskey,” says Mike Moreno Jr., vice president of Moreno’s Casa Tequilera & Liquors in Chicago. “People are looking for something different and unique that’s specific to your store. I’m always looking to do special collaborations to create something not easily found.”

Like single barrel Bourbon, a small batch of Tequila is aged in a unique barrel or in barrels previously used to age a different spirit or wine. Most single barrel Tequilas are aged in Bourbon barrels, but casks for single malt Scotch, Sherry, and other liquids are also used. Moreno’s first sold a single barrel Tequila in 2011. Now the store typically features seven or eight different single barrel Tequilas and sells close to 20 barrels of the spirit a year. “I go through about eight barrels a year of Maestro Dobel Diamante ($40 a 750-ml.), a blend of extra-añejo, añejo and reposado,” Moreno says, noting that it’s his fastest seller. “We are good friends with a lot of the Tequila and Bourbon producers and work really hard on our selection here. Some of the barrels we do are custom made for us and we pick the specific logo.”

Prices for a 750-ml. of single barrel Tequilas at Moreno’s range from $30 for Corazon to $400 for Codigo 1530 Moreno’s Extra Añejo Edition Double Cask Cabernet/Spanish Sherry. “Tequila is hot now because of a couple of reasons, including that it’s low in calories and gluten free,” Moreno says. “If you have a good palate, then you are to be able to provide customers a very good product.”

In Ohio, single barrel Tequilas are growing. Throughout the Buckeye State, 39 single barrel Tequila offerings across 10 brands were sold in 2022 versus 28 single barrel Tequila items across 10 products in 2021, according to the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, which operates the state’s OHLQ stores. The three single barrel Tequila offerings posting the highest growth rates last year were Casa Noble Extra Anejo ($150 a 750-ml.), Casa Noble Reposado ($60), and Don Julio Reposado ($70). “We anticipate volume to track in a similar manner at the same rate as 2022 with the majority of the growth of on-premise sales,” says Kristen Castle, director of brand and marketing for OHLQ.

From a small Ohio base, the segment’s dollar sales were up 4.8% and approaching $500,000 on a 12.6% volume increase in 2022. Of total segment sales in Ohio, 60% were on-premise and 40% were retail. “We have seen the Tequila category service levels return to pre-pandemic levels,” Castle says. “The current service levels for single barrel Tequila is 100%.” 

Laurence Romaya, owner of Del Mesa Liquor in San Diego, is testing the demand for single barrel Tequilas with a group of retailers known as the San Diego Barrel Boys, comprising eight San Diego beverage alcohol retailers. “I haven’t done a single barrel Tequila on my own yet,” Romaya notes. “I am testing the waters and seeing what kind of reactions I get and the appetite for it. There seems to be a lot of potential for it. The appeal of single barrel Tequilas for a lot of people is it’s something they’ve never tried before. You’re always going to get different notes. No two barrels will be the same.”

The first single barrel Tequila Romaya introduced at his store was Maestro Dobel Diamante Tequila San Diego Barrel Boys Barrel Select ($60 a 750-ml.) in 2021. “We just got Corazon San Diego Barrel Boys Single Barrel Añejo Tequila Aged in Blanton’s Bourbon Barrels ($50 a 750-ml.) a couple of weeks ago,” Romaya says. “We are using the big Bourbon name to push the Tequila. We are getting the Corazon añejo flavors and then you’re getting the Bourbon whiskey notes. We ordered it about two years ago. It took a long time to come in.”

The San Diego Barrel Boys also ordered Tequila Rey Sol Extra Añejo two years ago and are still awaiting its arrival. “I have no idea when it’s coming,” Romaya says. “It will come bottled with ‘single barrel’ on the label and it will have our store logo on it. It will retail at $350 to $400. I haven’t decided on the exact price yet.”

Single barrel Tequilas are very much a work in progress. “It’s still a relatively young segment,” Romaya says. “The way Tequila growth is now, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of Tequila producers start shooting out single barrel Tequilas, especially if they do cross promotions with Bourbon producers.” 

Long-term growth seems imminent. “It’s going to continue to grow nationwide,” Moreno says. “We haven’t even yet hit the tip of the iceberg. For the foreseeable future, Tequila and single barrel Tequila are going to continue to grow.”