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All About Tequila

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ABOUT 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, or pomegranate.

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 of distillation.

Gold uses white tequila or 100% Agave Tequila mixed with caramel or matured tequila to intensify the character.

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.

Mezcal
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 Property (IMPI).

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 authentic tequila.

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 unit:

European Union Office
Carrera de San Jeronimo 46
28014, Madrid, Spain
Tel. +34 +91 +369 1959


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