Tequila is big business. In 2022 there were over 46 million cases sold worldwide. That’s over 550 million bottles, and over 9 billion shots, more than one shot for every person on the planet. Not bad for a spirit produced in just one country and in just a handful of regions. But just 10 companies accounted for almost 80% of total sales. And only one of those is actually owned by Mexicans.
The largest selling tequila company is Becle, who sold 13.9 million cases in 2022. This is more than double the sales of the second biggest selling company, Diageo, who sold 5.8 million cases. A 9 liter case is an industry measure, which is equivalent to 12 normal sized 750 ml bottles. So the largest tequila company, Becle, sold about 167 million bottles of tequila last year.
All of the largest selling tequila companies hold portfolios of spirit brands outside of tequila including some of the most iconic brands worldwide. Of the top 10 largest selling tequila companies, five are privately owned or controlled by the founding families, a sixth is family controlled. Only one, Becle, is actually based in Mexico.
This article is about the 10 companies that sell the most tequila. Go here if you want to know about the 10 most popular tequila brands.
Top 10 Selling Tequila Companies Worldwide
Proportion of global sales of tequila, 2021
|Rank||Company||Million Cases of Tequila Sold||Top Tequila Brands||Also Owns|
|Bushmills, 400 Conejos, Kraken|
|Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Tanqueray, Smirnoff|
|Bacardi, Grey Goose, Dewars, Bombay Sapphire|
|4||Suntory Beverage & Food||3.2||Hornitos|
|Jim Beam, Makers Mark, Suntory, Laphroaig, Canadian Club|
|Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Finlandia|
|Sazerac, Buffalo Trace, Southern Comfort|
|Absolut, Malibu, Chivas, Havana Club, Jameson, Beefeater|
|8||Davide Campari-Milano (Campari Group)||1.3||Espolòn|
|Campari, Aperol, SKYY, Wild Turkey|
|9||Heaven Hill Distilleries||1.2||Lunazul|
|Evan Williams, Elijah Craig|
|Rebel, Ezra Brooks, Yellowstone|
Cases of Tequila Sold: 13.9 million
Bottles of Tequila sold: 167 million
Ownership: Publicly listed, 87% owned by Beckman Family
Headquarters: Mexico City, Mexico
Total revenue, all products (US$, 2022): $2.36 billion
Top selling brand of tequila: Jose Cuervo
Other tequila brands: 1800, Gran Centenario, Maestro Dobel
Becle is the largest selling tequila company in the world. It not only controls the number one selling tequila brand world wide, Jose Cuervo, but also the numbers five and seven, with 1800 and Gran Centenario respectively. Gran Centenario is also the biggest selling tequila in Mexico. 1800 is the fifth highest selling tequila in the USA by volume. Becle was founded in 1758, making it the oldest tequila company in the world and is currently managed by the 11th generation family members.
Becle is mostly owned by the Beckman Family, descendants of Jose Cuervo himself. In 1795 the King of Spain, Charles IV granted Jose Maria Guadalupe de Cuervo y Montaño (or Jose Cuervo to his friends) the first license to sell tequila. In 1880 Jose Cuervo was the first to bottle tequila in glass bottles and in 1945 the margarita cocktail was invented using Jose Cuervo tequila. Quite the pedigree.
Globally, Becle’s tequila brands account for three out of every ten bottles sold. In Mexico, they have an even higher market share, accounting for four out of every ten bottles sold. In the US, one in four bottles of tequila sold are Becle brands.
Outside of tequila Becle is the third largest producer of Irish Whiskey in the world, largely under the Bushmills brand. Becle also owns over 30 spirit brands, including Kraken rum, Three Olives Vodka and Tin Cup American whiskey. In the agave spirits category, Becle owns Mexico’s largest selling mezcal, 400 Conejos, and Creyente mezcal.
Cases of Tequila Sold: 5.8 million
Bottles of Tequila Sold: 67 million
Ownership: Publicly listed
Headquarters: London, UK
Total revenue, all products (US$, 2022): $20.6 billion
Top selling brand of tequila: Don Julio
Other tequila brands: Casamigos
Diageo is the largest spirit company in the world by retail sales value, 1.5x its nearest competitor. It has over 200 brands with sales in more than 180 countries and a skew towards more premium drinks. It owns some of the most iconic brands which are leaders in their categories, including Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Tanqueray, Smirnoff and Baileys.
Diageo was founded in 1997 through the merger of Grand Metropolis and Guinness. The history of some of its brands goes back a lot longer, as far as the 17th and 18th centuries. In 2015 Diageo acquired Don Julio, its highest selling tequila brand. In 2017 it made headlines with its $1 billion purchase of Casamigos, the tequila brand founded by George Clooney, Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman. Although it seemed expensive at the time, Casamigos has come from a very small beginning to now be the world’s fourth highest selling tequila by volume. Casamigos also makes a mezcal which is the number four selling mezcal in the US.
Cases of Tequila Sold: 4.5 million
Bottles of Tequila Sold: 55 million
Ownership: Bacardi Family
Headquarters: Hamilton, Bermuda
Total revenue, all products (US$, 2022): 5 billion
Top selling brand of tequila: Patrón
Other tequila brands: Cazadores
Bacardi is the largest privately owned spirits company in the world. It was founded in 1862 in Santiago, Cuba by Facundo Bacardi Masso. Seven generations later, it is still in family ownership. The company owns more than 200 brands and labels which are sold in 170 countries.
Bacardi’s flagship product is the white rum of the same name. Bacardi was used in 1898 in Daiquiri Cuba when American mining engineer Jennings S. Cox invented the Daiquiri. Two years later in 1900 the Cuba Libre cocktail was invented by American soldiers, with Bacardi rum, Coca-Cola and lime.
In 1960 Bacardi’s operations in Cuba were confiscated as part of the Cuban Revolution. After some time spent based in the Bahamas, Bacardi moved to Bermuda in 1965 where it is based today. In the 1990s the company began acquiring brands outside of rum, Martini Rossi in 1993 and Bombay Sapphire gin and Dewars whisky in 1998. In 2018 Bacardi acquired Patrón, now the second most popular brand of tequila worldwide.
Bacardi took a minority stake in Ilegal Mezcal in February 2017 and in September 2023 it purchased the remaining share of the brand. Ilegal is now the number one selling mezcal in the US.
#4 Suntory Beverage & Food
Cases of Tequila Sold: 3.2 million
Bottles of Tequila Sold: 38 million
Ownership: Publicly listed, majority owned by Suntory Group
Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
Total revenue, all products (US$, 2022): $11.0 billion
Top selling brand of tequila: Hornitos
Other tequila brands: Sauza, 100 Años, El Tesoro, Tres Generaciones
Suntory is based in Tokyo, Japan and was founded in 1899 by Shinjiro Torii. Its first main product was Akadama Port Wine, and later moved to focus on whiskies. Suntory whisky was launched in 1937. The company also owns Japan’s first distillery, Yamazaki which was built in 1923.
In 2014 Suntory bought Beam, owner of Jim Beam, for US$16 billion and is now the world’s third largest spirits company. Jim Beam itself was founded in 1795 and is based in Clermont, Kentucky, USA.
Suntory’s portfolio includes Casa Sauza, one of the true pioneers in the tequila industry. Sauza was founded in 1873 and is produced at one of the oldest tequila distilleries. In the past the Sauza brand was the highest selling tequila globally, although it has slipped to #10 in recent years.
Beam Suntory created at partnership with Mezcal Amarás in July 2023. It imports the brand’s range of mezcals into the US.
Francisco Javier Sauza was a descendent of the founder, Cenobo Sauza. He sold part of his shares in Casa Sauza to Casa Pedro Domecq. After his death in 1990 Casa Pedro Domeq became the sole owner of the Sauza brands. In 1994 Demecq group formed an alliance with Allied Lyons called Allied Domecq. In 2005 Beam Global Spirits and Wine acquired the Sauza brands. This company would become Beam Inc which would later be acquired by Suntory Holdings.
Despite owning many iconic liquor brands, alcohol sales make up less than 35% of Suntory’s total sales. Its largest segment sells mineral water, coffee and soft drinks. Even though tequila sales make up a small proportion of Suntory’s operations, it still owns two of the biggest selling tequila brands worldwide: Hornitos (number six best seller) and Sauza (number 12 best seller).
Cases of Tequila Sold: 2.5 million
Bottles of Tequila Sold: 30 million
Ownership: Publicly listed, founding family controlled
Headquarters: Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Total revenue, all products (US$, 2022): $4.2 billion
Top selling brand of tequila: El Jimador
Other tequila brands: Herradura, Pepe Lopez
Brown-Forman is the fifth largest global spirits company. It was founded in 1870 when founder George Garvin Brown became the first to sell whiskey in a glass bottle. The company formed a partnership with George Forman in 1890 which established the company name.
In 2007 Brown-Forman acquired Casa Herradura, one of the oldest tequila producers in the world with the brands Herradura and El Jimador. El Jimador is now the world’s eighth highest selling tequila by volume.
Brown-Forman also owns popular brands Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve and Finlandia Vodka.
Cases of Tequila Sold: 2.0 million
Bottles of Tequila Sold: 24 million
Ownership: Private, William Goldring and family
Headquarters: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Total revenue, all products (US$, 2022): $1-$2 billion
Top selling brand of tequila: Margaritaville
Other tequila brands: Corazon, Peligroso, Monte Alban
Sazerac is privately owned by the billionaire William Goldring and family. Sazerac traces its origins to the Cognac region of France, and later to New Orleans where it is based today. The Sazerac cocktail was named after the founding family.
It’s most popular tequila, Margaritaville, was launched in relation to the late Jimmy Buffet.
Sazerac is more well known as a bourbon and whiskey producer, with labels including Buffalo Trace, Weller, Blantons, Southern Comfort and Fireball.
#7 Pernod Ricard
Cases of Tequila Sold: 1.3 million
Bottles of Tequila Sold: 16 million
Ownership: Publicly listed
Headquarters: Paris, France
Total revenue, all products (US$, 2022): $12.7 billion
Top selling brand of tequila: Olmeca (including Altos)
Other tequila brands: Avion, Código 1530
Pernod Ricard is the world’s second largest spirits producer behind Diageo. The company was founded in 1975 with the merger of two French companies, Pernod (founded in 1805) and Ricard (founded in 1932). Pernod Ricard is based in Paris, France and is behind many iconic global spirit brands including Jameson whiskey, Absolut vodka, The Glenlivet scotch, Chivas scotch, and Beefeater gin.
Pernod Ricard owns Olmeca, the 10th highest selling brand of tequila worldwide (which includes Altos Olmeca), as well as super premium label Avion. In October 2022 Pernod Richard acquired a majority stake in Codigo 1530 Tequila. Codigo was founded in 2016 by Ron Snyder, Federico Vaughan and George Strait and has some of the most expensive tequilas available. Former National Football league coach of the Denver Broncos Mike Shanahan and former NHL hockey player Brett Hull were also partners in Codigo 1530 tequila.
In 2017 the company acquired a majority stake in Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, the second largest brand of mezcal in the United States. In July 2020 Pernod Ricard bought into another mezcal brand, Ojo de Tigre, backed by Mexican actor Luis Gerardo Méndez.
Pernod Ricard announced the launch of Nocheluna Sotol, in partnership with musician Lenny Kravitz in October 2022. Sotol is closely related to agave spirits, but is made instead from the wild sotol plant, also known as dessert spoon or or Dasylirion, a cousin of agave.
Pernod Ricard now has a stake in three of the 50+ celebrity backed tequila and agave spirits.
The company also owns a large wine and champagne portfolio with brands such as Mumm, Perrier-Jouët and Campo Viejo.
#8 Davide Campari-Milano (Campari Group)
Cases of Tequila Sold: 1.3 million
Bottles of Tequila Sold: 16 million
Ownership: Publicly listed, majority controlled by Garavoglia family
Headquarters: Sesto San Giovanni, Italy
Total revenue, all products (US$, 2022): $2.9 billion
Top selling brand of tequila: Espolòn
Other tequila brands: Cabo Wabo, Mayenda
Davide Campari-Milano (Campari) was founded in 1860 with the creation of the bitter drink now known as Campari by Gaspare Campari. The business expanded under Gaspare’s son, Davide Campari.
Campari owns Espolòn, the 9th highest selling tequila globally. Campari bought Espolòn in 2009. In 2007 Campari bought an 80% interest in Cabo Wabo Tequila, buying out the remaining interest in 2010. Cabo Wabo was founded by American musician and member of Van Halen Sammy Hagar, also known as the Red Rocker.
In 2019 Campari acquired a controlling stake in mezcal brand Montelobos and Ancho Reyes liqueur for US$35.7 million. Montelobos is now the sixth highest selling mezcal brand in the US.
In April 2023 Campari launched its first tequila brand that it developed itself. Mayenda Tequila, launched with a blanco version. It’s point of difference is that it after the first distillation it steeps roasted piñas in the liquid and adds liquids collected from the piñas during roasting.
Other notable brands held by Campari include Aperol, Skyy Vodka, Wild Turkey, Appleton Estate, Cinzano and Grand Marnier.
#9 Heaven Hill Brands
Cases of Tequila Sold: 1.2 million
Bottles of Tequila Sold: 15 million
Ownership: Private, Shapira Family
Headquarters: Bardstown, Kentucky, USA
Total revenue, all products (US$, 2022): $290 million
Top selling brand of tequila: Lunazul
Other tequila brands: Two Fingers, Tequila Ocho
Heaven Hill has been family owned and operated since it was founded in 1935 by Ed Shapira and his brothers. The company is based in Bardstown, Kentucky. It is the largest family owned and operated distillery in the United States and the fifth largest supplier of distilled spirits in the country. The company’s first release was Old Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond which became the best selling whiskey in Kentucky.
Heaven Hill’s most popular brands of bourbon include Evan Williams (the world’s second largest selling bourbon), Elijah Craig and Larceny. Non-whiskey brands include Deep Eddy Vodka, Burnett’s Vodka, Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey and Admiral Nelson’s rum.
Heaven Hill acquired Two Fingers tequila in 1995. In 2008 the company entered into a joint venture with Tierra de Agaves to import and market La Certeza and Lunazul tequilas into the USA. In February 2022 the company announced the acquisition of Samson & Surrey, which included the tequila brands Tequila Ocho and Mezcal Vago.
#10 MGP Ingredients
Cases of Tequila Sold: 0.9 million
Bottles of Tequila Sold: 11 million
Ownership: Publicly listed
Headquarters: Atchison, Kansas, USA
Total revenue, all products (US$, 2022): $782 million
Top selling brand of tequila: Juarez
Other tequila brands: El Mayor, Exotico, Dos Primos
MGP Ingredients is based in Atchison, Kansas and was founded in 1941 by Cloud L. Cray Senior. Apart from producing consumer branded spirits, it is also a major supplier of food ingredients to industry such as wheat proteins and starches, and industrial alcohol. The company is the largest US producer of rye whiskey and gin. The company focuses more on supplying distilled spirits to third parties, who then market the products under their own labels, known as white labeling, or further age and then bottle in the case of some bourbons and whiskies.
MGP’s spirit brands include Yellowstone, Rebel, George Remus, Ezra Brooks and Blood Oath bourbons, Green Hat gin, and Everclear grain spirit.
MGP’s brand portfolio greatly expanded in 2021 when it acquired and merged with Luxco. Luxco was founded in 1958 by the Lux family.
MGP now owns tequila brands Juarez, Exotico, El Mayor and Dos Primos. Dos Primos was founded by country singer Thomas Rhett in 2019.