TEQUILA REGULATIONS

TEQUILA RULES

In order to protect Tequila there are many regulations in place that ensure quality, production and the fact that it belongs to Mexico. The regulations I’ve listed below are in my opinion some of the most important ones, however there are many more.

The Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM) specifies the official standards that must be kept for any product to be named Tequila, which is then certified by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT).

An important rule are the categories which refer to the content of agave in each bottle. To be classed as Tequila this has to be a minimum of 51%, meaning the other 49% can be additives, sugars etc and may be sold in bulk to then be bottled outside of Mexico – These commonly known as ‘Mixto Tequla’. The way to spot these are if they don’t state ‘100% agave’ on the label and can usually be found on supermarket shelves wearing little sombreros!

The other category is ‘100% agave Tequila’ are premium Tequilas that are exclusively bottled in Mexico and strictly monitored by the CRT. These are the ones you should be looking for!

The ABV is also regulated in the NOM which states it must be between 35% and 55%.

TEQUILANA WEBER AZUL

As I mentioned before, Tequila has to be made from Tequilana Weber.

Commonly known as the Blue Agave has a blueish hue to its leaves, which are long, thick and fleshy with spikes. They have a high yield and reach approx. 2m when mature. This agave was probably picked as the best option for making Tequila as it has a very high yield, takes 7-9 years to grow and they hold more sugars than any other agave – giving you that special happy Tequila buzz!

As with all agaves the flavour profiles depend on its terrain but one can find, more often than not, white pepper, spice and citrus with these ones.

X MARKS THE SPOT

As with some other alcoholic beverages Tequila is carefully protected by a Denomination of Origin or DO which allows for the production of Tequila to occur in only a select few states of Mexico:

Jalisco, Michoacan, Tamaulipas, Nayarit and Guanajuato

The terrain or terroir in which the agaves grow plays a huge role in the flavour of the end product. An agave Tequilana Weber growing in the highlands of Jalisco is going to have a different profile than the same species growing in the lowlands of the same area. Hot/cool, dry/wet, near river or not, all of these determine the end result, along with many other factors.

Thanks to Takayo Akiyama for an awesome picture of Mexico on the right!

LABELLING

This might seem like an unnecessary part but the labelling of a bottle is also regulated to ensure important information can easily be found, crucial to any potential buyer or customer. Any bottle of Tequila must have the following written on its label:

  • Name of the brand
  • ‘Tequila’
  • ‘Category’ (100% Agave)
  • Net Volume and ABV
  • The NOM number

And the following can be found on the reverse side of a bottle:

  • The batch number
  • Information regarding health upon excessive consumption
  • Name of producer and address of distillery
  • Description of origin (Hecho en Mexico)

With all that information you can be sure to enjoy your bottle of Tequila!

ALL ABOUT THE COLOUR

Tequila comes in many different shapes, sizes and colour!

As with many other spirits, Tequila can be barrel aged.

Kobe Desmet & Isabel Boons quoted Miguel Cideno Cruz, who is the plant manager at Tequila Herradura, wonderfully in their book ‘Tequila & Mezcal: The Complete Guide’: ‘If you have white tequila straight from the distilling vessel, it is as if you have a beautiful woman. You can then dress her as you like: you can use barrels made from French white oak instead of American oak or you can choose sherry barrels. Although you always try to be consistent, no two tequilas are identical. In other words: Tequila is alive and connot be tamed just like that…’

  • Blanco or Silver: unaged
  • Joven or Gold: A blanco that is coloured and might have other additives
  • Reposado or Aged: Aged for a minimum of 2 months
  • Anejo or Extra Aged: Aged for a minimum of 12 months
  • Extra Anejo or Ultra Aged: Aged for a minimum of 3 years

The names can get confusing as with the Anejo and Extra Anejo, you just need to make sure you are reading the correct language: Extra Aged is of course English and so is called Anejo in Spanish. Extra Anejo is Spanish and translates to Ultra Aged in English.

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