MePhoto by Aaron Sherman, (c) 2005
Nothing says Mexico like a bottle of tequila. This popular drink is Mexican fine art in a bottle filled with rich history. The golden liquid is a time honored tradition produced according to a set of high quality standards. Just like France and its Champagne region, the Mexican government has set these high standards for the production and exportation of tequila to ensure that real Mexican tequila is always a quality product.
The Real Tequila
To be considered authentic Mexican tequila, every bottle must include all these qualities:
The first standard practice to distinguish if a bottle contains actual tequila is that it must come from Mexico, no exceptions. Not all parts of Mexico can be tequila producers, only the states of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. These areas are considered a world heritage site and were named so in 2006 by UNESCO.
For tequila to be considered authentic, the label must read: NOM, Norma Oficial Mexicana (Official Mexican Standard). NOM is employed by the Mexican government and is in charge of regulating the traditional Mexican drink. This agency is in charge of assigning a number to each tequila producer. The producer is responsible for printing this number on every label.
The second set of letters that must be printed on an authentic bottle of tequila is CRT. These three letters make certain that the alcoholic beverage has been manufactured under the supervision of the Tequila Regulatory Council (Consejo Regulador del Tequila). The private organization is approved by the Mexican government to certify the industry’s compliance with the mandatory technical standards of tequila. The organization’s main goal is to ensure the integrity and authenticity of tequila for the consumer.
Without the acronyms: NOM and CRT and a producer number, it is just not tequila.
Authentic tequila must also meet a fourth requirement. Real tequila is always made from Blue Agave Weber, a specific variety of agave plant. The tequila label must say “100 % de agave,” which literally translates to 100 % agave.
Tequila is a fine art and its production takes many different steps. During the process, different types of tequilas can be produced. The different types of tequila are: Blanco, Joven, Resposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo. Each has a distinct flavor based on aging length and the type of barrels in which it is stored.
Blanco: Clear in color, this tequila contains all the natural flavors of the agave and its sugar, which makes it popular among tequila connoisseurs.
Joven: This tequila is a derivative of tequila Blanco and consists of burnt sugar which gives it a smoother flavor.
Reposado: This is the most popular type of tequila. It is aged in barrels for no more than two months which gives the drink a woody color and is slightly smoother than Blanco and Joven.
Añejo: This tequila is aged for at least one year. This aging process gives Añejo tequila a superior quality and taste. It is highly recommended for first time drinkers.
Extra añejo: The oldest Mexican tequila is Extra Añejo. It is aged between 3 and 5 years. Its flavors include wood, cinnamon, vanilla, caramel, and rose petals.
Whatever type of tequila you prefer, tequila will continue to be a Mexican tradition with its multifaceted, rich history and flavor.
Original article by Pamela Acosta. Edited by: