What’s In Your Tequila? An Editorial.

Why we determined to deal with the trade’s lack of transparency on additive use

If this headline has given you pause, it ought to. In any case, 100% agave tequila historically includes of three issues: cooked agave, water, and yeast (earlier than getting old). However more and more, some producers are counting on components, or “abocantes” as they’re known as within the trade, not simply to equalize taste and colour variations from batch to batch, however to make up their complete profile. Tremendous environment friendly manufacturing strategies that have a tendency to supply a high-proof (as excessive as 87% abv), impartial spirit are one of many major causes. This vodka-like tequila then must be watered down (to 40% abv), leaving it with out the signature traits we’d search for in tequila, such because the scent and style of cooked agave.

(We’ve talked about components intimately earlier than, and the way they’re permitted below the legislation in the event that they don’t exceed 1% in weight, so that you may wish to assessment that article if you’ll want to.)

The elevated reliance on components has us involved on a couple of fronts. To begin with, agaves are superb crops that supply an unbelievable number of aromas and flavors when their fermentable sugars are became alcohol. So, it appears a rattling disgrace to make use of these agaves to make a impartial spirit. (Why not simply make vodka or grain alcohol?)

Additionally, agaves want not less than 5 or 6 years to mature and produce the extent of sugar that conventional producers require. Producers who use diffusers, acid-thermal hydrolysis, yeast accelerants, and column stills —the tremendous environment friendly industrial methodology we referred to above— are capable of extract extra sugar from the agaves than conventional strategies, so the age of the agaves isn’t as essential to them. They’ll harvest them at three or 4 years, which disrupts the agave progress cycle for conventional producers. It is because immature agaves don’t but comprise sufficient sugar for conventional manufacturing gear to extract.*

Agave field from above

A jimador for Tequila Fortaleza harvests mature agave crops in a area in El Arenal, Jalisco. Agave is exclusive as a result of it produces a posh spirit even with out getting old (like whisky) or added botanicals (like gin).

And since diffuser producers use a sped-up course of with immature agaves they typically want components to create a taste profile. These components often don’t scent/style like cooked agave, though they might be labelled as “Agave Notice #307560” or “Agave Notice #208344”, for instance. Customers of our app typically describe these synthetic aromas as “faux fruit”, “faux pine”, vanilla, cake batter, flowers, and botanicals harking back to gin. Components for aged merchandise often consist of additional vanilla, caramel, and in additional excessive incidents, cake batter. Typically in addition they add sweeteners, like cane sugar, agave syrup, or aspartame-like excessive depth compounds. Glycerin is utilized in all kinds of tequila to provide the product a thicker mouth really feel and sometimes cowl up for minor defects.

Shoppers who will not be tequila aficionados typically like these merchandise as a result of they don’t style “robust” and haven’t any “burn”. And let’s face it — additive makers know what us people like and so they design these fruity, vanilla, and candy profiles to enchantment to our tastes. Shoppers who like these merchandise aren’t responsible. In any case, they often don’t know that the tequila they’re consuming doesn’t resemble an actual, conventional tequila.

Take, for example, the current reputation of “cristalinos” in Mexico, which is now taking foot within the U.S. Few drinkers of those merchandise notice that with a view to strip away the entire colour from an aged tequila**, practically all of the aromas and flavors are stripped away as effectively. When filtering is that this heavy, the one means so as to add taste and aroma again in is thru using components.

And herein lies a bigger drawback:

What if the recognition and large advertising of industrialized merchandise that depend on components lead customers to imagine that tequila ought to scent and style like one thing that it isn’t? What occurs to the producers who nonetheless make conventional and pure merchandise? Will we lose them?

We’d additionally prefer to spur higher recognition that tequila is a pure product, with terroir, and seasonal modifications in parts like agave, water, yeast, temperature, and myriad different environmental components which might be a part of the method. Tequila customers mustn’t count on every batch to be similar. The extra we will do to get this message out, the extra understanding we’ll have concerning the position that components play.

different batches of tequila

Additional añejo samples at Tequila Tequileño, a Additive Free Alliance Model Member. Shade variations produced by totally different barrels are regular, however as a result of expectation of consistency in tequila, some producers equalize colours utilizing components.

Components have been initially allowed in order that producers may meet an unrealistic expectation of “consistency”, an expectation that isn’t demanded of different pure merchandise, comparable to wine. Now they’re getting used for a unique cause — to make up your entire profile of a product. That’s why we imagine that additive use ought to not less than be disclosed on the label for what they’re: added colour, taste, aroma, and texture, despite the fact that they don’t exceed the 1.0% by weight authorized restrict. Trendy components are extremely concentrated, which suggests a really, little or no bit can go a great distance. Merely put, that previous 1% restrict leaves loads of room to do greater than slight consistency changes.

Admittedly, there’s a place available in the market for each industrialized and conventional tequilas, however we expect customers ought to know the distinction and be capable of select for themselves.

We imagine {that a} motion towards extra detailed labeling and transparency is required within the tequila trade — and would support it. In any case, there’s been a bigger motion amongst each food and beverage corporations to be open and trustworthy about what individuals are consuming and consuming, and the response has been overwhelmingly constructive. Tequila producers may do the identical by altering the NORMA, or official guidelines of the trade.

We’re not anti-additives, or in opposition to industrialized manufacturing methods. (Each serve a reliable objective.) We’re not saying that manufacturers that use components are doing something incorrect. We simply suppose that the trade simply must do a greater job of labeling.

We have now even heard from manufacturers that wished to be extra clear, however have been prevented from doing so.

One tequila model tried to incorporate the textual content “no components” on their label, solely to have it rejected by U.S. regulatory authorities. (Presumably as a result of different manufacturers with out the label could be known as into query.) One other tried to label their tequila as containing components, however bought refused by their distillery. So, we all know there are trade gamers that see the worth of being trustworthy with their customers. So, till the foundations change, we wish to assist.

Because of this we determined to launch our Additive-Free Affirmation Program. You possibly can learn all concerning the course of, and the products that have already passed. However we wished to take a second to clarify our personal motivations, as tequila lovers and champions of conventional manufacturers.

Additive use is a vital consideration amongst members of the Tequila Matchmaker neighborhood. That’s why we felt it was essential to verify the “no components” declare ourselves earlier than making use of that label to any product in our database. That is our course of, we don’t declare that it’s good, however it’s a nice begin that requires transparency from taking part manufacturers and distilleries.

We notice that our opinions on these issues aren’t as protected as the info and details we often try to ship. We additionally notice that we are going to take some (or loads) of warmth for this program, however we’re prepared. Our intentions are for the very best, for the tequila that we love, and the trade that we’re honored to participate in.


-Scarlet & Grover

P.S. Need to be a part of our motion? Share this story and encourage your mates to help transparency in tequila labeling.

*In conventional manufacturing processes, agave is cooked utilizing steam with fibers current. Throughout the cooking course of, the sugars then bond with the fibers. Extraction by way of tahona, curler mill, or screw mill can’t extract 100% of these fermentable sugars as a result of some stay caught to the fibers. Diffusers, then again, take away the fibers earlier than cooking and may due to this fact achieve practically 100% effectivity through the extraction course of. For that reason, they’ll make use of youthful agaves which have much less sugar.

**There are exceptions when not all the things is filtered out, however that is uncommon.

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