Casamigos Tequila Ultra-Premium Tequila owned by George Clooney and Rande Gerber

Celebrities such as George Clooney and Justin Timberlake are raising the profile of tequila as sophisticated drinkers swap whisky and cognac for expensive versions of the Mexican liquor.

Tequila, which earned a reputation as a drink slammed back in bars with a wedge of lime and a dab of salt, is being reclaimed by those looking for an alternative drink for a special occasion.

Diageo, which is the world’s second largest distillery and owns brands like Gordon’s gin and Bell’s whisky, said tequila sales rose 43pc in the six months to December 31.

The multinational owns upmarket brand Don Julio and bought George Clooney’s Casamigos for £700m last year, with both brands selling at around £35 a bottle.

Diageo said that demand was starting to grow in the UK, which is currently enjoying a cocktail boom and tequila is often used in combination with other popular drinks.

Wine and Spirit Trade Association figures show sales of tequila in the UK have risen 40pc since 2014.

There continues to be a growing trend towards drinking high quality cocktail combinations and increasingly sophisticated sipping products.’

Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, said: ‘There’s a lot of interest coming in. It’s being picked up by consumers on those occasions where whisky and cognac have played traditionally.

John Kennedy, president of Diageo’s European business said: ‘Gordon’s grew 36pc off the back of the launch of pink gin which has been the hottest launch we’ve had in spirits for a few years.’

Sales at Diageo nudged up slightly to £6.6bn, an increase of 1.7pc, while profits rose 6.1pc to £2.2bn.

Daily Mail