The most successful spirits launch in history

Anything launched by the Jenner-Kardashian clan is a licence to print money, but Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila brand is on track to be the most successful spirits launch in history.

818 Tequila was released in May and has sold out in the US, while also attracting orders from 80 countries around the world.

An insider told Page Six that 818 “could barely meet the consumer demand” as many stores reported shortages within its first 24 hours on shelves.

“Retailer and distributor chatter is this is the best spirits brand launch they’ve ever seen in this price range,” they said.

Mike Novy, 818’s president and chief operating officer, told The Spirits Business: “In that first week of launch, most stores that we went into sold out anywhere from a matter of a couple of days to within the week,” he said.

“The launch of 818 sold more volume to more accounts in the first 30 minutes than their next best tequila launch had done in the first 30 days. We’re actually tracking to be one of the most successful spirits launches, not even tequila launches.

“To put it in context right now, in the first two months that we’ve been in business, we have orders for more cases of tequila than we expected to sell in the first two years.”

The brand has benefited from Jenner’s massive Instagram following. In February she teased the brand was coming, noting: “For almost four years I’ve been on a journey to create the best tasting Tequila. After dozens of blind taste tests, trips to our distillery, entering into world tasting competitions anonymously and WINNING … 3.5 years later I think we’ve done it!

“This is all we’ve been drinking for the last year and I can’t wait for everyone else to get their hands on this to enjoy it as much as we do! @drinks818 coming soon.”

The 25-year-old’s entry into the celebrity tequila category means she’s joined the likes George Clooney (Casamigos), Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Teremana), Bryan Cranston (Dos Hombres), Rita Ora (Próspero Tequila) and Nick Jonas (Villa One) in the agave-based spirits realm.

George Clooney’s Casamigos brand, which he sold to Diageo in 2017 for US$1 billion, surpassed one million nine-litre-case sales in 2020. It saw an extraordinary 82.3% rise in sales in 2020, which CEO Lee Einsidler credited to growth in the off-trade and takeaway cocktails.

In Australia, data from Dan Murphy’s in May showed that premium tequila sales have doubled in the last 12 months, with brands such as Rita Ora’s Próspero Tequila leading the drinks trend.

Próspero Tequila was soft-launched onto the Australian market in August 2020, with bottles of the premium spirit flying off the shelves since then.

“We are seeing a new era of tequila globally and Australia is right on the trend with premium tequila one of our fastest growing drinks categories,” said Dan Murphy’s Category Manager Trading – Spirits & Premix James Duvnjak. “Tequila is no longer just for shots, but for sipping like a fine whisky or creating a personal twist on a cocktail.”

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