Coming to a glass near you ...

The tequila pandemic is going strong. One example: The impending debut of another contender in the ultra-premium category.

La Certeza, an estate-crafted tequila, is being shipped to selected test markets around the country. It has been created from blue agaves grown on the 3,500-acre Beckmann estate near the town of Tequila in Jalisco state. The products are a joint venture between the Beckmanns, the former co-owners of Jose Cuervo, the Boissets and the La Certeza family, a group of tequila artisans.

Price points: blanco for $40, reposado for $45, a├▒ejo for $60.

The Beckmann name is an icon in the Tequila area. The family has owned the land since 1758 and began producing "vino de mezcal," the precursor to modern tequila, in 1795 under the first government license ever issued for the product.

The La Certeza brand is twice distilled in traditional Cognac stills and double-aged in bourbon and French oak barrels for both flavor and color.

Elsewhere, Blavod Extreme Spirits' tequila brand, El Diamante del Cielo Tequila, has added retailers in nine U.S. states to its network.

These are just two examples of the increase in both vendor points and brands of tequila. In 2004, tequila sales surged by 8% in the U.S., outpacing all other distilled beverages. Revenue last year rose by 11% to $1.06 billion, according to figures from the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS). Overall sales by volume were up by 20.6% for the last two years, and sales of high-end premium brands grew by an astonishing 51% in the same period.

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