TEQUILA/AGAVE Tequila is intrinsically associated with
Mexico and the state of Jalisco, a state located in the west of
the country which includes the cities of Guadalajara and Puerto
Vallarta. This spirit is obtained by the distillation of fermented
juice from only the Blue Agave plants. Just like Champagne and Cognac
tequila takes its name from the area of origin (Appellation of Origin)
which is the town of Tequila.
Many different types of agave exist. In Mexico alone there are
more than 200 hundred varieties. However, only Blue Weber Agave
is suitable for the production of Tequila. The plant was classified
in 1905 by the German botanist Franz Weber, from whom this variety
took its name. The agave is often referred to as a cactus but in
fact it is a plant belonging to the Amaryllis family.
Tequila is produced only within five small designated regions in
Mexico and the production of the spirit is the most strictly controlled
in the world. The agave plant takes a minimum of 6-8 years to mature.
The leaves and roots are then removed and the heart is cooked. The
juice is extracted and fermented and is double distilled. The tequila
is then held in storage containers before being bottled. Some tequila’s
also have a wide range of flavours added such as almond, lemon,
There are TWO categories of Tequila. The first category is 100%
AGAVE TEQUILA made from only Blue Weber Agave. These are the best
tequilas you can buy and include many well known brands such as
Herradura, Clase Azul, Ocho, El Jimador, Don Julio to name but a
few. The superb taste and lack of a hang over the next day is worth
paying a little extra for 100% Agave tequilas. The label will simply
state 100% Agave and nothing else.
When buying 100% Agave Tequila don’t be confused by labels
that contain descriptions such as 100% agave distilled, 100% natural,
distilled of agave, etc. With this we do not mean to insinuate that
they are products of bad quality simply that they are not 100% Agave
Tequilas. (see below example)
The second category is TEQUILA (mix or blended) which is made
using a minimum of 51% Blue Weber Agave and the remainder is mixed
with Sugarcane or Corn sugars. The most famous mixed tequila of
them all is Cuervo.
Different kinds of tequila are produced by over 150 registered
companies in Mexico. The tequila products made by these companies
differ mainly in the proportions of agave used, production processes,
micro-organisms or yeast used in the fermentation, distillation
equipment, and the aging process.
Tequila and 100% Agave Tequila are generally sold in 5 different
categories based on their age. These are Blanco, Gold, Reposado,
Anejo, and Extra Anejo.
Blanco also known as silver or
white tequila is the youngest, clear, and bottled within 60 days
Gold uses white tequila or 100%
Agave Tequila mixed with caramel or matured tequila to intensify
Reposado is matured for 2 to 12
months in white oak barrels or vats.
Anejo or the ‘old one’
is matured for more than one year in barrels.
Extra Anejo is ultra aged tequila
kept in barrels for at least 3 years.
In practice, the aging period is normally longer and depends on
the characteristics each company wants to give to the final product.
The spirit MEZCAL is different from tequila due to the type
of agave used in its production. This is the drink famous for the
worm in its bottle. Mezcal is made from Agave potatorum, which grows
primarily in the state of Oaxaca. Most mezcal producers use a simple
fermentation and distillation process. There is no technical reason
for, or any improvement in the characteristics of mezcal from adding
the worm to the bottles of some mezcal brands. The worm is primarily
a commercial gimmick. Worms are grown on agave plants and introduced
manually in the bottling line.
Appellation of Origin "Tequila"
In 1974, the Mexican Government issued a Declaration for the Protection of the Appellation of Tequila
because of its geographical origin, reputation and essential specific
qualities; "Tequila" was to be considered of geographical
importance to Mexico. According to the law, only on these areas
can "Tequila" be produced. Only these areas possess the
right climate and soil characteristics for the development of the
Blue Weber Agave plant.
This meant that Mexico would claim the exclusive use of the word
"Tequila" globally and that only alcoholic beverages made
with Blue Weber Agave (Agave Tequilana Weber Blue Variety), grown
in the officially demarcated area within Mexico, and under the rules
of the Official Norma of Tequila, could be labelled as "Tequila".
As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Paris Convention
for the Protection of Industrial Property and other International
Treaties (NAFTA, Europe Trade Agreement, etc.), Mexico has secured
the protection of Tequila as an exclusive product of Mexico. "Tequila"
belongs to Mexico and only to Mexico. The Mexican Government is
the actual owner of the name "Tequila". Everyone who wishes
to engage in the production of tequila must obtain a permit or license
from the Mexican Government through the Mexican Institute of Industrial
The officially demarcated area for the production of tequila, as
stipulated in the Declaration for the Protection of the Appellation
of Origin Tequila (DOT), includes the entire State of Jalisco, and
other specific areas within other four States: Nayarit, Tamaulipas,
Michoacan and Guanajuato.
The Official Norma of Tequila
The Official Norma of Tequila or Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM) is
the law that establishes how tequila is to be made, bottled and
labelled. It is known as the "NOM-006-SCFI-1994 Alcoholic Beverages-Tequila-Specifications”.
This law was enacted in August 13, 1997 to replace the previous
one. This is not just a law it is a guarantee to the customer that
purity of tequila is maintained.
The NOM establishes the official standard of identity for tequila,
tequila 100% Agave and all of the five different types of tequila:
silver, gold, reposado, anjeo, and ultra anjeo. It establishes the
physical and chemical specifications of tequila as well as the characteristics
of the Agave intended to be used in the production of tequila. It
also covers the rules governing its bottling and labelling.
Every bottle of tequila should carry on its label a NOM number.
The NOM, which stands for Official Mexican Norm, is the number assigned
by the government of Mexico to each one of the producers and identifies
who actually produced that bottle of tequila. If there is no NOM
on the label, you should be careful because that might not be an
The Tequila Regulatory Council or CRT The Tequila Regulatory Council or Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT)
is the organization that has been accredited by the Mexican Government
to oversee and certify that the production and that the bottling
and labelling of tequila is being conducted according to the Official
Norm of Tequila.
It was founded in 1994, under the initiative of the Chamber of
Tequila Makers, as a private, non-profit organization to verify
and certify the process of tequila making. It is integrated by the
tequila producers, the agave growers, the bottlers and marketers,
and the representatives of the Mexican Government.
Structurally, the CRT is organized in five different branches:
verification, certification, agricultural, quality control and administrative.
In order to ensure the integrity of tequila and the compliance with
the Official Norm of Tequila, the CRT employs a team of well trained
professionals who permanently conduct on-site inspections to verify
each step of the production of tequila in the factories.
For further information on the CRT you may contact the following
European Union Office
Carrera de San Jeronimo 46
28014, Madrid, Spain
Tel. +34 +91 +369 1959