Cincoro was created in 2019 by NBA owners Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Hornets, Jeanie Buss of the Lakers, Wes Edens of the Bucks, and Emilia Fazzalari and Wyc Grousbeck of the Celtics.
Source: Cincoro Tequila
They are rivals on basketball’s biggest stage. But when it comes to tequila, they’re friends.
Cincoro, the label founded by five National Basketball Association team owners including Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, announced a new blend of its award-winning tequila on Wednesday. Cincoro Gold, which is aimed at the luxury market, will be available in limited quantities beginning in October and will retail for $349.99 per bottle. It is Cincoro’s fifth mix.
Jordan himself promises nothing less than “the best tequila in the world” – strong words from the man often referred to as the greatest basketball player in the world.
“While the tequila space may be crowded, we are fierce competitors and our portfolio reflects our passion and commitment to producing truly delicious and exceptional expressions,” the Charlotte Hornets owner told CNBC.
He will be joined by Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeannie Buss, Wes Edens of the Milwaukee Bucks ownership group, and Wyc Grousbeck and Emilia Fazzalari of the Boston Celtics. It started coming together in 2016 when Jordan, Buss, Edens, Fazzalari and Grousbeck made plans for dinner in New York City ahead of NBA meetings. While waiting for their table, the owners realized they had more in common than just basketball. They also shared a love of tequila.
“It was the first time the five of us got together for dinner and something very special happened that night as we bonded as friends and arch-rivals,” Fazzalari said. “We started talking about how much we all love tequila, and we realized that we have this common passion.”
Their discussions continued to develop and they saw an opening of the market. Fazzalari said they made over 1,000 tequilas before finally landing on their flavor profile. The meetings and tastings were often scheduled around NBA board meetings.
“Michael in particular taught us how to drink tequila. He taught us how to sip tequila,” she said. “He taught us that he likes to drink it neat or with a big rock and always a slice of orange, and you know it’s just about relaxing and enjoying the moment.”
In just three years, the label has sold 1.5 million bottles nationwide and won 23 awards at accredited spirits competitions, according to Cincoro. Fazzalari said the tequila can be found in every major hotel chain, leading restaurant groups and many independent liquor stores across the country.
“Our strategy is to expand our distribution in the United States and then look overseas,” she added.
While brands like Cuervo, Patron, Don Julio and George Clooney’s Casamigos control the majority of the market, IWSR Drinks market research data shows that Cincoro is a top 20 brand in terms of retail value proposition to the tequila category.
“The top 10 tequila brands in the US make up almost 70% of the category value, so it’s very concentrated. The remaining 30% is split between dozens of smaller brands, including Cincoro,” said Brandy Rand, IWSR’s chief strategy officer.
Cincoro said it strives to differentiate its product through unique flavors and its aging process. They begin by harvesting agave plants that are at least seven years old in Jalisco, Mexico. The agave is slowly cooked and fermented for six days and then aged in whiskey casks. Its newest product, Cincoro Gold, blends all of the previous expressions together to create a richer flavor. Fazzalari describes it as “reminiscent of a finely aged Scotch or Cognac”.
In just three years, Cincoro has sold 1.5 million bottles nationwide and won 23 awards at accredited spirits competitions.
Courtesy: Cincoro Tequila
So far, Cincoro is proving to be a good investment for owners as the spirit continues to grow in popularity. Tequila is one of the fastest growing spirits categories in the United States, according to the IWSR.
Over the past year, total volume has grown by almost 17% and value by more than 27%. The super premium tequila category and above — brands in the $30+ price bracket — are seeing even greater growth, with volume up 36.5% and value nearly 40% over the past year. By the end of next year, tequila is poised to become the largest spirits category by value in the US.
Jordan and his friends might be on to something. Tequila brands with celebrity ties have seen rapid success. According to the IWSR, celebrity tequilas soared at a compound annual growth rate of over 50% between 2016 and 2021, bringing in $1.9 billion in global revenue in 2021 alone. From Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to Nick Jonas to Lebron James, a tequila brand is a hot commodity.
In 2013, Clooney launched Casamigos. It started out as a mix shared by his family and friends and became an instant hit. In 2017, Clooney sold Casamigos to Diageo for $1 billion. Today it is the #3 tequila brand by market share in terms of value and volume.
“Celebrity participation brings sophistication to the category, and celebrities are organically expanding the demand base for tequila by attracting a global and diverse group of followers and fans,” Rand said.