Clase Azul tequila is one of the most expensive tequilas on the market today. A standard 750ml bottle can cost upwards of $100 or more. But what makes this ultra-premium tequila so pricey? Here’s a deep dive into the factors that contribute to Clase Azul’s lofty price tag.
It’s Made From 100% Pure Agave
All tequila must be made from the blue agave plant to be considered true tequila. However, the majority of cheaper tequilas are made from 51% agave with the remaining 49% from other sugars. This allows them to produce the spirit faster and more efficiently. Clase Azul, on the other hand, is made from 100% pure Weber Blue Agave. This means it contains no additives or extra sugars. Producing 100% pure agave tequila is much more time consuming and expensive which drives up the retail cost.
The Agaves are Hand-Selected
Clase Azul pays close attention to selecting the ripest, highest quality blue agaves for production. While many distillers use machines to harvest their agave plants, Clase Azul insists that each plant is hand-selected by expert Jimadors. This allows them to pick the very best agaves and reject any that don’t make the cut. Ensuring only premium agaves make it into the final spirit adds to the overall cost.
It’s Produced in Small Batches
Unlike big-name tequila brands that mass produce millions of liters per year, Clase Azul is made in small batches at their distillery in Jalisco, Mexico. This limits the output volume which in turn limits the supply. Basic economics says lower supply + high demand = higher prices. Their Plata expression is distilled just 60 liters at a time while the Extra Añejo is produced in batches of only 20 liters. Producing such small quantities is time-intensive and keeps retail prices high to match.
Most tequilas are distilled only two times before bottling. But Clase Azul engineers have found that triple and even quadruple distilling leads to a cleaner, smoother end product. This extra effort does come at a cost, however. The more times the tequila is distilled, the more labor and materials are required. And those costs eventually get passed onto the consumer.
It’s Aged for Years
Fine spirits tend to increase in price the longer they are aged. More aging means more storage costs plus additional evaporation that reduces the final yield. Clase Azul’s core expressions are aged as follows:
- Plata – Not aged
- Reposado – 8 months in oak barrels
- Añejo – 2 years in oak barrels
- Extra Añejo – 5 years in oak barrels
The Extra Añejo, in particular, requires a heavy investment in storage and loss over 5 long years. This lengthy aging process is a major factor in its steep $400+ price tag. The maturation leads to added complexity and smoother flavor that aficionados highly value.
Decorative Ceramic Bottle
Clase Azul is instantly recognizable by its expansive, decorative blue bottle. Each empty bottle is handmade by Mexican artisans using a traditional talavera style of ceramics. The blue agave plants depicted on the bottles are hand-painted and no two are exactly alike. The bottles themselves often retail for $50-$100. So right off the bat, nearly half the cost is in the ornate bottle before even considering the tequila inside. This unique packaging adds to the premium brand image and overall product value.
Prestige and Brand Image
From a marketing perspective, Clase Azul has developed an air of prestige, luxury and exclusivity. It’s the type of brand associated with the glamorous cocktail crowd and A-list celebrities. Their slogan “Lo Mejor de Lo Mejor” directly translates to “The Best of the Best” which cements it as a top-shelf, luxury product. Compared to other celebrity-backed spirits like Casamigos, Clase Azul relies more on brand mystique versus star power. Their limited production volumes and ornate packaging reinforce the sense that Clase Azul is upscale and prestigious. Many consumers are willing to pay premium prices just to be associated with this type of global brand image.
Higher Production Standards
Quality artisanal products made in small batches often cost more than mass-produced mainstream versions. Clase Azul adheres to exceptionally high standards at every step of production:
- Agave plants must meet strict quality guidelines to be selected
- Only fully mature 8-10 year old plants are harvested
- Agaves are slowly steamed over 36 hours to extract sugars
- The piña juice is fermented with proprietary yeast strains
- Tequila is triple or quadruple distilled for purity
- Blanco expressions are unaged to preserve true agave flavor
- Aged expressions are matured and blended to exact flavor profiles
- Bottles are meticulously handcrafted and painted
Maintaining these standards at such small scales requires significant time, labor and materials compared to mass-market brands. But it’s this commitment to quality that makes Clase Azul so revered among tequila aficionados.
Comparison to Other Ultra-Premium Tequila Brands
Clase Azul is far from the only high-end tequila on the market with a price tag over $100. Let’s compare it to a few other ultra-premium brands:
|Elegant bottles, 100% agave, multiple distillations
|Smooth taste, distinctive bottles, celebrity branding
|Traditional production, highland agaves, elegant bottles
|Celebrity owners, quality standards, reasonable prices
This shows that high price tags around $100+ are common among top tequila brands today. Clase Azul competes well with its unique artisanal production methods and decorative packaging. While Casamigos offers lower prices due to higher production volumes and celebrity owners. So Clase Azul’s pricing is very much in line with other ultra-premium tequilas.
Is Clase Azul Worth the Price?
At the end of the day, is Clase Azul worth paying 3-4x times more than a standard bottle of tequila? That depends on your budget and personal taste preferences. Here are some pros and cons to consider:
- Undeniably smooth, clean flavor
- Produced from 100% pure agave
- Elegant and luxurious packaging
- Aged expressions are beautifully complex
- Trusted quality and standards
- Prestigious brand image
- Very expensive compared to average prices
- Quality vs price is debatable
- Some feel it’s overhyped
- More affordable sipping tequilas exist
For hardcore tequila aficionados or those wanting to splurge on a special occasion, Clase Azul may very well be worth it. The exceptional smoothness, complex flavors and sense of luxury help justify the price. But for more casual drinkers, the ultra-premium price point could be hard to swallow. There are plenty of quality tequilas available for under $50 that get you 80% of the experience.
How Does Clase Azul Achieve Such High Prices?
Clase Azul has clearly positioned itself firmly in the ultra-luxury spirits category. But how exactly have they convinced consumers to pay such premium prices year after year? Here are some of their pricing and positioning strategies:
- Premium packaging – The ornate handmade bottles signal high value and craftsmanship
- Aged expressions – More aging time increases perceptions of quality and justifies higher prices
- Limited outputs – Low supply & high demand allows them to command top dollar
- Prestige marketing – Luxury brand image promotes exclusivity and prestige
- Quality ingredients – 100% pure agaves and multiple distillations support premium pricing
- No discounts – Avoiding promotions helps maintain an air of exclusivity
- Upscale outlets – Availability in high-end stores, lounges and resorts
This effective branding, marketing and positioning has enabled Clase Azul to become one of the most coveted tequilas globally. And where there is demand, high prices will surely follow.
Clase Azul Price Forecast
Looking ahead, Clase Azul prices will likely continue trending upwards given no significant changes in their prestige branding or production standards. Here are some predictions on factors that could influence pricing in the next few years:
- Increased global demand, especially from China and India’s rising middle class, will maintain pressure for higher prices
- Possible expansion into new luxury expressions like extra-extra aged versions above 8 years could push prices up further
- Higher costs for agave plants, labor, fuel and transportation will lead to modest price increases over time
- A strengthening US dollar against the Mexican peso may help offset some inflationary costs
- Trends toward premiumization in spirits lead us to expect ultra-luxury tequila to continue growing in popularity
Barring any economic downturns or drops in global demand, everything points to Clase Azul prices advancing steadily for the foreseeable future. It remains an iconic luxury brand in tequila that shows no signs of becoming more affordable anytime soon.
In the end, Clase Azul has earned a reputation as one of the finest and most expensive ultra-premium tequilas thanks to its unwavering commitment to quality ingredients and production. The brand’s luxury image is reinforced by its distinctive packaging, prestige marketing and limited batch sizes. While the price may seem excessive to some, Clase Azul continues to prove itself as an iconic, top-shelf tequila brand for aficionados and collectors around the world. All signs point to its lofty prices being here to stay – at least for true fans willing to pay top dollar for its quality and status.