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#1
Old 01-24-2006, 12:36 PM
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Does "100% Agave" mean "100% Blue Agave"?

Patron, for instance, says "100% Agave" on the bottle. Does that mean it's blue agave? I understand that there are many species of the agave cactus, so are some tequilas made from those other plants? Can they claim to be "100% Agave" according to Mexico's tequila labeling laws?
#2
Old 01-24-2006, 12:53 PM
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All tequila comes from the same type of agave. Liquors made from any type of agave are collectively referred to as mezcals.
#3
Old 01-24-2006, 01:53 PM
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It has to be a certain variety of agave.

Quote:
The production of Tequila starts in the field with the selection of the "hijuelos" (young plants) which must be of the Tequiliana Weber, blue variety agave species and can only be planted in the area protected by the General Declaration of the Appellation of Origin
#4
Old 01-24-2006, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ultrafilter
All tequila comes from the same type of agave. Liquors made from any type of agave are collectively referred to as mezcals.
But many tequilas are made with additonal stuff. I think it only has to be 51% blue agave to be called tequila. So, can it be 51% blue agave, and 49% non-blue agave and still be called 100% agave?
#5
Old 01-24-2006, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
But many tequilas are made with additonal stuff. I think it only has to be 51% blue agave to be called tequila. So, can it be 51% blue agave, and 49% non-blue agave and still be called 100% agave?
Quote:
To make Tequila a minimum of 51% agave sugars are mixed with up to 49% other sweeteners (white sugar, brown sugar, glucose, fructose, molasses, etc.) before fermentation.
Tequila has to be made from blue agave (from link in my first post). 100% agave means that it isn't "cut" with alcohol produced from other sugars.

BTW, my cites are from the The Tequila Regulatory Council (El Consejo Regulador del Tequila, A. C.).
#6
Old 01-24-2006, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke of Rat
100% agave means that it isn't "cut" with alcohol produced from other sugars.
Like Cuervo Gold -- the bare minimum agave to be legally called "Tequila", cut for the rest, with caramel color added for the "gold" hue (which results from aging in wood barrels in a true anjeo).

Puro de agave. Mmmmmmm.
Cuervo Gold. Not so much.
#7
Old 01-24-2006, 09:59 PM
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So is there a difference between these two designations?

100% puro agave azul
100% agave azul
#8
Old 01-24-2006, 10:49 PM
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Does anyone know the botanical name of the mezcal agave? and is it impossible to make tequila out of the other species? If not, is it possible that not mentioning blue means it's made out of some other generic agave?
#9
Old 01-24-2006, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lissener
Does anyone know the botanical name of the mezcal agave? and is it impossible to make tequila out of the other species?
There are many agave species. That was why I asked. You can ferment almost anything...

Quote:
If not, is it possible that not mentioning blue means it's made out of some other generic agave?
That is my question!!!
#10
Old 01-24-2006, 10:57 PM
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BTW, I started thinking about this after seeing a History Channel show on Booze. It was quite interesting, focusing on whiskey, gin, vodka, scotch and tequila. I highly recommend it-- the booze and the show.
#11
Old 01-24-2006, 11:23 PM
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http://ianchadwick.com/tequila/glossary.html

According to the above site, tequila may not be made with any other agave, or it would be mezcal. Therefore, "100% agave" means 100% blue agave.
#12
Old 01-25-2006, 03:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
I understand that there are many species of the agave cactus. . .
A nit: agaves are not cacti. They are related to lilies (liliales order). The cacti are in the caryophyllales order.

The species name of blue agave is "Agave tequilana" (surprise!). More specifically, blue agave is a cultivar of this species. Other species of agave used for making alcoholic beverages (mezcal and pulque) include A. americana (century plant or maguey), A. angustifolia (mezcal agave), A. atrovirens (maguey manso), A. deserti (desert agave) and A. salmiana (maguey ceniso).
#13
Old 01-25-2006, 04:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag
http://ianchadwick.com/tequila/glossary.html

According to the above site, tequila may not be made with any other agave, or it would be mezcal. Therefore, "100% agave" means 100% blue agave.
But if it's 51% blue agave, why does it matter what the other 49% is from?
#14
Old 01-25-2006, 06:50 AM
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As said, 51% is the minimum for making a tequila -- that's a blanco tequila only. There are more stringent requirements for reposados and añejos. I can't cite; that's what the docent told me at the Sauza facility in Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico, back in October. Yes, aged tequilas start as white tequilas, but if they only contain 51% agave, they can never become an aged tequila.

The other 49% can be sugars from anything, but most commonly it's cane sugar. Why? Well, cane sugar is dirt cheap and its available in vast quantities very close to the tequila-making region of Mexico. Using anything else would be cost prohibitive. As for other types of agave, it's just not cultivated, and if it were, it'd still be more expensive than cane sugar. Agave azul is very distinctive, and when you see fields and fields and fields of it covering an entire region, it becomes recognizable and it's rather quite beautiful.

By time you have 100% agave, double distillation, aged in used oak whiskey barrels for more than six months, you're into something that the tequila maker actually cares about and it'll be good, pricier stuff. Yum!

What are the percentages, though? The final alcohol weight [or volume] of 51% must be due to agave? Cane sugar is dry and easy to weigh; agave only becomes sugar due to mashing [heat and enzymatic action]. The pre-distillation weights [measure the specific gravity] are the 51%? Anyone know?
#15
Old 01-25-2006, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
There are many agave species. That was why I asked. You can ferment almost anything...


That is my question!!!
NOM-006-SCFI-1994 is the letter of the law on tequila. This specification covers the strict legal definition of tequila. Again, from my earlier cites.
#16
Old 01-27-2006, 12:33 AM
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Tequila is a type of mezcal. Others are bacanora, lechuguilla, sotol, raicilla, comiteco, charanda, xtabentun depending on the region they are from and the type of agave used to make it. Tequila is the most famous.
#17
Old 01-27-2006, 02:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
There are many agave species. That was why I asked.
Yes I know; I just put 4 different species in a client's garden.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
You can ferment almost anything...
Yes, I know. THat's why I asked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
That is my question!!!
My question was about terminology, not about biology.
#18
Old 01-27-2006, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lissener
My question was about terminology, not about biology.
Maybe I'm missing something, but I read your question as being exactly the same as mine-- ie, if it says "agave" and not "blue agave" can it be made with non-blue agave?
#19
Old 01-27-2006, 11:36 AM
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I can only deduce that I'm on John's ignore list.
#20
Old 01-27-2006, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
Maybe I'm missing something, but I read your question as being exactly the same as mine-- ie, if it says "agave" and not "blue agave" can it be made with non-blue agave?
No.
#21
Old 01-27-2006, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke of Rat
I can only deduce that I'm on John's ignore list.
John's question is a little different. This thread has definitively (for me) shown that any "Tequila" must, by definition, be made with 51% blue agave.
What is left unanswered is if the remaining 49% is some other, non-blue agave, like "agave americana" (for example), the manufacturer could claim that it is "Puro de agave", or "100% agave".
I don't know the answer, but I would guess that even it would be legal, it would not result in a great enough cost saving to worth while. Does anyone know the answer?
#22
Old 01-27-2006, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shelbo
John's question is a little different. This thread has definitively (for me) shown that any "Tequila" must, by definition, be made with 51% blue agave.
What is left unanswered is if the remaining 49% is some other, non-blue agave, like "agave americana" (for example), the manufacturer could claim that it is "Puro de agave", or "100% agave".
I don't know the answer, but I would guess that even it would be legal, it would not result in a great enough cost saving to worth while. Does anyone know the answer?
By the way, the answer to whether Tequila that is 51% blue agave, and 49% other agave, can be "puro de agave" or "100% agave", can likely be found in one of the links on this site: http://crt.org.mx/eng/norm_etiquetado.asp (see the second row of the table, labled "category"). I don't speak Spanish, so the link to the various Mexican regulations is not very helpful!
#23
Old 01-27-2006, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shelbo
By the way, the answer to whether Tequila that is 51% blue agave, and 49% other agave, can be "puro de agave" or "100% agave", can likely be found in one of the links on this site: http://crt.org.mx/eng/norm_etiquetado.asp (see the second row of the table, labled "category"). I don't speak Spanish, so the link to the various Mexican regulations is not very helpful!
And if you look here: (.pdf) http://economia.gob.mx/work/norm...7/006-scfi.pdf
in Section 5.1.1, you may be able to answer the question.
#24
Old 01-27-2006, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke of Rat
I can only deduce that I'm on John's ignore list.
No, but your cites didn't answer my question. If you think they did, can you quote the section here? I didn't see it. Shelbo seems to understand the question. I don't know any other way to rephrase it.
#25
Old 01-27-2006, 11:30 PM
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4.2 Agave.

"Planta de la familia de las amarilidáceas, de hojas largas y fibrosas, de forma lanceolada, de color verde azulado, cuya parte aprovechable para la elaboración de tequila es la piña o cabeza. La única especie admitida para los efectos de esta NOM, es la Tequilana weber, variedad azul, que haya sido
cultivada dentro de la zona señalada en la Declaración."


Only the blue tequilana weber agave grown in the denominated area can be used for the Norma Oficial Mexicana concerning tequila.

5.1.1 “Tequila 100% de agave” o “Tequila 100% puro de agave”.

"Es aquel producto que se obtiene de la destilación y rectificación de mostos, preparados directa y originalmente del material extraído, dentro de las instalaciones de la fábrica, derivado de la molienda de las cabezas maduras de agave, previa o posteriormente hidrolizadas o cocidas, y sometidos a fermentación alcohólica con levaduras, cultivadas o no.

Para que este producto sea considerado como “Tequila 100% de agave” o “Tequila 100% puro de agave”, debe ser embotellado en la planta de
envasado que controle el propio fabricante, misma que debe estar ubicada dentro de la zona de denominación de origen
.

Este producto puede ser denominado como “Tequila 100% de agave” o “Tequila 100% puro de agave”."


Not only must it be made from 100% blue agave but must be bottled under the control of the distillery and within the boundaries of the denominated area.
#26
Old 01-28-2006, 01:34 PM
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De nada, JM.
#27
Old 01-28-2006, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shelbo
Like Cuervo Gold -- the bare minimum agave to be legally called "Tequila", cut for the rest, with caramel color added for the "gold" hue (which results from aging in wood barrels in a true anjeo).
First of all, Cuervo Gold makes no claim to being an añejo tequila (which should be obvious with the first taste). The only difference between gold and silver tequilas is that gold are aged in oak and silver are aged in metal: both start their lives as white (blanco) tequilas. "Gold" and "silver" are just marketing terms anyway, not official terms like blanco, reposado, and añejo.

Second, there's no requirement that añejo tequilas be aged in wood. There are perfectly clear añejo and reposado tequilas that have been aged in metal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag
According to the above site, tequila may not be made with any other agave, or it would be mezcal. Therefore, "100% agave" means 100% blue agave.
All tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila.
#28
Old 01-28-2006, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InvisibleWombat

Second, there's no requirement that añejo tequilas be aged in wood. There are perfectly clear añejo and reposado tequilas that have been aged in metal.
4.17.3 Tequila reposado.
"Producto susceptible de ser abocado, que se deja por lo menos dos meses en recipientes de
madera de roble o encino
, cuya graduación alcohólica comercial debe, en su caso, ajustarse con agua
de dilución. En mezclas de diferentes tequilas reposados, la edad para el tequila resultante es el
promedio ponderado de las edades y volúmenes de sus componentes."


Reposado requires a minimum 2 months aging in oak barrels:


4.17.4 Tequila añejo.
"Producto susceptible de ser abocado, sujeto a un proceso de maduración de por lo menos un año
en recipientes de madera de roble o encino
, cuya capacidad máxima sea de 600 litros, y con una
graduación alcohólica comercial que debe, en su caso, ajustarse con agua de dilución. En mezclas de
diferentes tequilas añejos, la edad para el tequila resultante es el promedio ponderado de las edades
y volúmenes de sus componentes.
"

Añejo requires a minimum of one year aging in oak.
#29
Old 01-30-2006, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
No, but your cites didn't answer my question. If you think they did, can you quote the section here? I didn't see it. Shelbo seems to understand the question. I don't know any other way to rephrase it.
The NOM-006-SCFI-1994 I gave in post #15 is the letter of the law on tequila. If it has to do with the manufacture of tequila, it's in there.

Shelbo used the same crt.org.mx site as I did for his cites, CBEscapee was quoting from NOM-006-SCFI-1994.

To break it down:

Tequila has to be made from blue agave, only.

To be 100% agave tequila, it cannot be altered with alcohol produced from any other sugars.

If one were to introduce alcohol made from any other type of agave, then the make-up would no longer be blue agave, only.

So as soon as you add 1% alcohol from any other type of agave to alcohol made from blue agave, you cannot call it tequila, by definition. You can add alcohol made from other sugars, just not the sugars from any other agave, since as soon as you add alcohol produced from any type of agave other than blue agave, you no longer have tequila, by definition.
#30
Old 01-30-2006, 12:20 PM
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Why does the HOM allow for the variations in labeling? If I understand all this correctly, then all of the following mean the same thing:

100% de agave
100% agave azul
100% puro agave azul

I have seen all of these on bottles of tequila. Isn’t one of the main points of the regulations to have truth in labeling? The French and the Germans would never allow this kind of variation in labeling their wines.
#31
Old 01-30-2006, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ass For A Hat
Why does the HOM allow for the variations in labeling? If I understand all this correctly, then all of the following mean the same thing:

100% de agave
100% agave azul
100% puro agave azul

I have seen all of these on bottles of tequila. Isn’t one of the main points of the regulations to have truth in labeling? The French and the Germans would never allow this kind of variation in labeling their wines.

Actually the law concerning tequila defines "agave" for the legal purposes of the manufacture and labeling of tequila as ONLY blue agave, NOM-006-SCFI-1994 Bebidas alcohólicas-Tequila-Especificaciones, section 4.2 Agave. (see above post.) If it says agave on the bottle of tequila, it means it is blue agave.


If the tequila is anything less than 100% agave, the word agave must not appear on the label.
#32
Old 01-30-2006, 12:55 PM
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Muchas gracias.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CBEscapee
De nada, JM.
#33
Old 01-30-2006, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CBEscapee
Actually the law concerning tequila defines "agave" for the legal purposes of the manufacture and labeling of tequila as ONLY blue agave...
I understand (now) that part of this. What my question is…and I think I should have phrased it differently…is why the latitude in labeling is allowed. The thrust of AOC conventions are usually uniformity in labeling. The French will only allow Bordeaux producers to state very certain things on the label. If a producer meets the standards for a particular appellation, they get to say that on their label. For example, “Appellation Pauillac Controlee” for wines from the Paulliac region. Those three words tell the consumer exactly where the wine is from, what grapes are used, and quite a bit more about the producer’s winemaking practices. Variations aren’t allowed.

If I understand the Mexican standard correctly though, a producer could use “100% Pure Super Fine Bluest Of The Blue Agave Supremo” on their label. The tequila is no different than something labeled "100% Agave" though. My question is why the HOM seems to allow for puffing on the part of the producer. It seems antithetical to the purpose of having regulations to begin with.
#34
Old 01-30-2006, 08:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ass For A Hat
It seems antithetical to the purpose of having regulations to begin with.
I dunno -- I kind of like it. The government only says what you can't do if there's not a certain criteria me, but you're free to do anything that's not contrary to the prohibition. It really sounds like greater freedom to me.

The restriction against other agaves makes sense -- they just don't grow 'em, and if they did, it'd probably confuse the inspectors. So use all the cane sugar you want, just don't use a non-weber maguay.
#35
Old 01-30-2006, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balthisar
The restriction against other agaves makes sense -- they just don't grow 'em,
Sure they grow them. What do you think other mezcals are made from?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Balthisar
and if they did, it'd probably confuse the inspectors.
Why?
#36
Old 01-31-2006, 06:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CBEscapee
Sure they grow them. What do you think other mezcals are made from?
Well, blue agave, naturally (that's what I think, not what I'm proclaiming). Many of the other mezcals are "only" Mezcals 'cos they're not made in Jalisco or Guanajuato. I've had bacanora that's the equal of some really good tequila. Driving through Guanajuato, Jalisco, and Nayarit, blue is the only agave you see growing anywhere. I always just assumed that since I didn't see any other agaves, they weren't used for mass production, which isn't to say that other agave's aren't grown; I just meant massively. Sorry for not being more clear.

Quote:
Why?
As to why inspectors would be confused about the difference, well, the jimadores (the agave pickers) shear everything off of the piña (the heart of the plant) in the field, and throw 'em into a truck/trailer/horsecart/whatever, and at that point you can't easily tell the difference between the agave types. Worse, by the time the piñas are shredded and cooked (or squeezed and having their juices cooked), you just have a pulpy mess. There's no way the inspector's going to know if you've been cheating by using other types of agave. But again, there's not really any benefit to using other agaves anyway. If you want to cut your tequila with up to 49% other sugars, cane sugar is much, much cheaper than agave, and agave azul is so prevelant that other agaves must be less competetive, so why bother?
#37
Old 01-31-2006, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balthisar
It really sounds like greater freedom to me.
That's been the rap against the French regs...that they stifle creativity. Much of that is due to the fact that they are very strict about what can go in the bottle. The Mexican regs seem to be pretty strict about that too. At least as far as what they will let producers call 100% Agave Tequila. IMHO, creativity in labeling is simply an effort by the producers to lead uneducated consumers to the conclusion that there are differences between their products that aren’t really there.
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