The international profile of cocuy, an artisanal Venezuelan liquor made from agave, is on the rise after the beverage captured top prizes at recent international competitions - sometimes beating out tequila, the better-known agave spirit, Keren Torres reported for Reuters.
Photo Insert: Cocuy brand 7Primos won a bronze medal at the 2022 London Spirits Competition.
The drink's new status could be a boon for its producers in a country that could use an economic success story. Venezuela has been hit by high inflation, the government has embraced partial dollarization and many businesses are keen to increase exports despite obstacles.
Various cocuy brands consulted by Reuters estimated production of cocuy, which is made from the agave cocui trealease, is some 30,000 liters annually in Lara state. One brand in Falcon state produces about 6,000 liters.
Venezuela's cocuy producers, however, say limited wild crops and the labor-intensive process of making the drink without additives - the prize-winning version of the liquor - are complicating efforts to increase output.
The flavor of cocuy, which is made mostly in Lara and Falcon, is distinct from tequila and mezcal, as the drink is made from a different type of agave. Prices for Mexican-produced tequila have climbed on an agave shortage amid increasing European demand.
Cocuy brand 7Primos won a bronze medal at the 2022 London Spirits Competition, while producer Magno earned two silver medals at the 2021 New York International Spirits Competition.
A reposado cocuy from brand La Capilla, made in Siquisique in Lara, won double gold medals at both the SIP Awards in the United States and the China Wine & Spirits Competition in 2022. Reposado, or "rested" in Spanish, means the drink has been aged longer before bottling.