Popular tequila launched in Cayman

Tequila Avión's South Florida Area Director Walid Hamid, standing in the background, tells invited industry guests about the brand and the three tequilas in the foreground at Craft Food & Beverage Co. on Jan. 15.

There’s a new tequila in town and the first thing everyone needs to know is that it is real.

Marketed as “the world’s best tasting tequila,” Tequila Avión was launched in two U.S. markets in 2010, and then nationally in the States in 2011.

Starting in 2010, the tequila was featured – in a true sense of the word – on multiple episodes of HBO’s television show “Entourage” during its final two seasons. Although the “Entourage” story arc gave the brand widespread recognition, it was so new to the market that many people thought it was just a “television tequila” and not real, or worse, created after the “Entourage” placement to cash in on its pop-culture notoriety.

In fact, Avión founder Ken Austin, a tequila aficionado, had been working on bringing a premium tequila to market for several years because he wanted consumers to know that tequila could be delicious. The tequila’s eventual inclusion in “Entourage” sprang from a conversation with “Entourage” creator Doug Ellin, a personal friend. While the show helped make Avión a household name in the U.S., and the characters in “Entourage” certainly loved it, most real people did not know anything about its taste. That started to change after Tequila Avión won multiple awards at the 2011 and 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, including the “Best Tasting Tequila” and the “Best Tasting Unaged White Spirit” in the 2012 competition.

Avión Añejo is a silky-soft show-stopping sipping tequila.
Avión Añejo is a silky-soft show-stopping sipping tequila.

Avión, the Spanish word for airplane, was named for Austin’s love of aviation, and for the last four years the brand has been flying high, aided by the fact that it’s the tequila of choice for many celebrities, including its “multicultural adviser,” rapper Jeezy.

Still, except for the patrons of Grand Cayman restaurant Casa 43, Avión has remained a mystery to consumers here because it was not available wholesale or retail. That is no longer the case.

Cayman launch

On Jan. 15, Cayman Distributors launched three Tequila Avión products with a private industry tasting at Craft Food & Beverage Co.

On hand for the launch was Walid Hamid, Avión’s area director for South Florida and California, who gave a quick history lesson on the tequila.

When Austin traveled to Jalisco, Mexico, to source high-quality blue agave for the premium tequila he wanted to produce, his search took him to the small town of Jesus Maria, where he met the Lopez family, fifth-generation agave growers. The agave plants they grew came from the highest elevations of eastern Mexico – between 6,500 and 7,500 feet – which is higher than where most agave plants used in tequila grow.

“All of the agave [used in Avión tequila] is grown on [our] estate,” said Hamid, noting that the agave plants at that altitude grow larger.

“Highlands tequila has sweeter notes,” he said. “It’s much more citrusy and smoother.”

Walid Hamid from Tequila Avión shows off a margarita made with his brand.
Walid Hamid from Tequila Avión shows off a margarita made with his brand.

Austin then spent several years working with the Lopez family to perfect a premium tequila using traditional methods, including slow-roasting for 48 hours the agave hearts in brick ovens instead of in stainless steel autoclaves, letting the roasted agave slowly cool down for 24 hours, and, after fermentation and distillation in which only the heart of the spirit is maintained, using a filtration process that takes 10 times longer than most other tequilas.

The result is a smooth tequila that is soft on the palate with little alcohol burn, but that still retains the high notes of quality blue agave tequila.

“At the foremost, it’s very good juice,” said Hamid, noting, however, that Avión has also been able to tick the box as a lifestyle product.

The tequila

Only three of the four Avión tequilas that will be available in Cayman were tasted at the launch.

Avión Silver, which is the unaged clear tequila that was so highly rewarded at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2012, is remarkably smooth for a spirit that has never seen the inside of an oak barrel. The citrusy, sweet flavor notes shine through, with subtle agave flavors. Although you can actually sip on this clear tequila straight, it’s probably best used in cocktails.

Avión Añejo, which is aged in oak barrels for two years, is a silky-soft show-stopper, with flavors of vanilla, caramel and toasted agave. This is a true sipping tequila, and for those who do not know what it is like to sip tequila, this would be a great place to start. In fact, for those who don’t know what it is like to sip on ANY straight spirit, this would be a great place to start. This tequila will retail in Cayman at Big Daddy’s and Blackbeard’s for $56 for a 750ml bottle, less than comparable quality añejo tequilas on island.

Avión Espresso is the brand’s answer to Patrón XO Cafe, but is less sweet and syrupy, with more of a true coffee flavor. This black, tequila-based liqueur is perfect for espresso martinis and similar cocktails, or for the late-night club-going crowd who want a shot of something with a little caffeine kick. It will be priced retail at a consumer-friendly $34 for a 750ml bottle.

All three of the products tasted at the launch are now available wholesale and will be available retail by early February. In addition, Avión Reposado, which is aged for six months in oak barrels, will also be arriving on island by early February and should cost about $50 in retail stores.