Nielsen, the Distilled Spirits Council, and mezcal enthusiast and author Emma Janzen have all provided recent estimates of the size of the United States mezcal market. Their estimates suggest that the current size could be in the region of USD 42 million to USD 126 million. The market is growing fast, with the CAGR observed to be approximately 29% to 30%. Several artisanal mezcal brands are starting to get popular in the country, and great examples of these brands include Del Maguey, Ilegal Mezcal, and Mezcal Union.
SIZE AND GROWTH OF THE MEZCAL MARKET IN THE UNITED STATES
Based on the information we have gathered below, it appears the current size of the mezcal market in the United States, in terms of dollar sales, could be anywhere within or around the range of USD 42 million and USD 126 million. It is likely as well that the United States mezcal market is rapidly growing at a CAGR of around 29% to 30%. Below you will see how we arrived at these estimates. Please note that the market size of USD 840 million and CAGR of 17.8% that were cited in the previous response to this request were for the global mezcal market.
The dollar sales of mezcal in the United States reached USD 70 million in 2017, according to page 26 of the 2017 Economic Briefing of the Distilled Spirits Council, "the national trade association representing the leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits in the United States."
A larger amount, however, was stated in Emma Janzen's book "Mezcal: The History, Craft & Cocktails of the World's Ultimate Artisanal Spirit," which was published in July 2017. According to this book, sales of mezcal in the United States increased by almost 48% during the period 2007-2011 and mushroomed from USD 10 million in 2005 to USD 126 million in 2015. Assuming these figures are accurate, we can estimate that the United States mezcal market grew at a CAGR of 29% during the period 2005-2015.
(USD 126 million/USD 10 million)^(1/10)-1 = 29%
Nielsen, as well, provided an estimate of the dollar sales of mezcal, but the estimate is smaller than that of the Distilled Spirits Council. The firm estimated that, in 2016, mezcal sales in the United States reached USD 41.7 million.
Last year, Future Market Insights projected that the global mezcal market will grow at a CAGR of 17.8% to reach USD 840 million by 2022. From these numbers, we can estimate that the size of the global market in 2017 was around USD 370 million, and the United States accounted for around 11% to 34% of the global market.
Global market: (((((USD 840 million/1.178)/1.178)/1.178)/1.178)/1.178) = USD 370 million
United States market: (USD 41.7 million to USD 126 million)/USD 370 million ~ 11% to 34% of the global market
Given that North America is the biggest market for mezcal, our estimate that the United States mezcal market is growing at a CAGR of around 29%, several percentage points higher than the global market's CAGR of 17.8%, makes sense. It was reported as well in an Adweek article published in 2016 that mezcal sales in the United States increased by 30% in the previous 52-week period. It was premium or higher-end mezcal that drove this growth.
Several experts or authorities attest to the remarkable growth the United States mezcal market is exhibiting. For example, Del Maguey's Michael Gardner says that "mezcal is one of the fastest-growing premium spirits categories" and that "it’s highly popular among key influencers and discovery seekers, and the cocktail space is particularly vibrant.” Both Euromonitor and Nielsen noted mezcal's remarkable growth in the United States too. Moreover, Pernod Ricard USA's Jeff Agdern says the following about mezcal: "It is very much an enthusiast and mixologist category right now, but we see more consumers coming into this category every day."
From less than 50,000 9-liter cases in 2009, the volume sales of mezcal in the United States grew to around 360,000 9-liter cases in 2017, according to page 26 of the Distilled Spirits Council's 2017 Economic Briefing. These numbers represent an absolute volume sales growth of 620% between 2009 and 2017 as can be seen below.
(360,000 - 50,000) / 50,000 = 620%
A 279%-growth in volume sales of mezcal in the country between 2005 and 2015 was reported by the International Wine and Spirits Research. Unlike the Distilled Spirits Council, however, the organization measures volume sales in liters instead of 9-liter cases.
CRAFT MEZCAL BRANDS THAT ARE GAINING TRACTION IN THE UNITED STATES
Mezcal is typically considered a craft spirit, as most mezcal makers are small and independent and mezcal is generally handmade. Mezcal is commonly made in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. As can be seen in an article recently published by VinePair, "made in Mexico for at least 400 years, mezcal is a homespun affair primarily produced by small families and villages."
According to Mezcal PhD, a site devoted to mezcal, there were about 120 mezcal brands that can be found in the United States as of October 2016. Nearly 90 of these brands were premium or high-end mezcal. On the site, the author ranked these brands by decreasing familiarity. The most well-known brands that emerged are the following: Ilegal Mezcal, Del Maguey, El Jolgorio, Real Minero, Rey Campero, Mezcal Vago, Pierde Almas, Mezcales de Leyenda, Fidencio, Wahaka, Mezcalero, Nuestra Soledad, Los Amantes, Marca Negra, Agave de Cortes, Don Amado, Alipus, El Buho, Los Nahaules, Montelobos, Tres Papalote, Sombra, Peleton de la Muerte, El Tieneblo, La Nina del Mezcal, and Mezcal Union.
Del Maguey appeared prominently in our press search results, as Pernod Ricard, one of the world's biggest spirits companies, recently bought a majority stake in Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal. Every bottle and label of Del Maguey is made by artisans. Del Maguey's popularity is apparent in the following statement made by Mezcal Union co-founder Anthony Champion: "If you go out there and talk to any relevant cocktail bar, throughout seven different states — everywhere I go the one brand I see is Del Maguey.” Champion adds, "When I speak to these bartenders, almost all of them have met Ron Cooper.” Ron Cooper is Del Maguey's founder; he serves as a business translator for the brand's producers and distillers. According to an article published by Fortune last year, Del Maguey is the top-selling brand of mezcal in the country.
Two other mezcal brands that are receiving media attention and gaining traction in the United States are Ilegal Mezcal and Mezcal Union. Bacardi, another large multinational spirits business, made an investment in Ilegal Mezcal. Alcoholic beverages company Diageo, on the other hand, entered into a distribution agreement with Mezcal Union. Similar to most other mezcal brands, both Ilegal Mezcal and Mezcal Union are artisanal.
If the numbers provided by Nielsen, the Distilled Spirits Council, and mezcal enthusiast and author Emma Janzen are considered, it is likely that the current size of the United States mezcal market is in the region of USD 42 million to USD 126 million. The market is exhibiting remarkable growth, with recent annual growth rates ranging from 29% to 30%. Del Maguey, Ilegal Mezcal, and Mezcal Union are some of the artisanal mezcal brands that are becoming increasingly popular in the country.