Since launching in September 2019, Cincoro, the ultra-premium tequila brand founded by five NBA owners, has sold 1.5 million bottles and won 23 awards in accredited spirits competitions.
Currently available in all 50 states, Canada and the Dominican Republic, founders Michael Jordan (Charlotte Hornets), Jeanie Buss (Los Angeles Lakers), Wes Edens (Milwaukee Bucks) and Emilia Fazzalari and Wyc Grousbeck (Boston Celtics) have their sights set on global expansion as interest in the agave-based spirit continues to rise.
“Our focus is to continue to grow the brand domestically and then go global,” says Fazzalari, Cincoro CEO. “I think with this ownership group we have a really amazing opportunity to do that in a big way. Innovation is in our DNA. We launched our fifth expression and have more in the queue that will come out in the future.
“We’re going to constantly innovate, constantly strive to do better and really aspire to lead the category globally.”
The owners toasted to Cincoro’s latest expression, Cincoro Gold—a blend of Cincoro Blanco, Reposado, Añejo and a generous portion of Extra Añejo—at a private launch party in New York City with a guest list including Spike Lee, Ronaldo, Todd Boehly, Donovan Mitchell, Shane McMahon and Fat Joe.
“Here’s the key to the expansion plan: we just need people to take their first taste,” Grousbeck says. “It’s not an acquired taste. It’s when you taste it the first time, then you know. For lots of people, just try a sip.”
While the United States, Mexico and Canada accounted for more than 88% of global tequila volumes in 2021, according to consultancy IWSR drinks market analysis, the global tequila market, which was valued at $12.89 billion last year, is expected to reach $24.19 billion by 2031, according to Allied Market Research.
The Cincoro founders cited Europe, Brazil, Southeast Asia, Australia, Germany and the UK as key markets for expansion.
“It’s the fastest growing spirit in the United States, but it’s really caught fire everywhere,” Edens says. “There’s no doubt that growing domestically is a big thing, but it’s a big world out there and this deserves to be on the top shelf of all these places.
“We can see a couple of our competitors out there and we compete really well with them here, so we just have to make a point of competing with them everywhere else in the world.”
Not only is the tequila market growing overall, but brands with celebrity connections have seen immediate success; celebrity tequilas including those backed by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Teremana), LeBron James (Lobos 1707) and Nick Jonas (Villa One) surged at a compound annual growth rate of over 50% between 2016-21 according to IWSR.
Four years after launching Casamigos in 2013, George Clooney sold the brand to Diageo for up to $1 billion; today, it’s the No. 3 tequila brand by market share in both value and volume. The British-based beverage behemoths also purchased Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin in 2020 for up to $610 million.
But what was founded by five NBA owners at an upscale Manhattan restaurant remains as much of a common passion and goal as winning a championship on the court.
“We want to be part of this for a long time,” Edens says. “We did this as friends to create a great tequila. We’ve created a great tequila in an amazing bottle. That’s the whole point of it. We just want to do it at the best level. We want everyone to taste it and enjoy it and we want to be part of this for a long time.”