The Truth About Additives in Tequila Production: How to Protect Yourself as a Consumer
It may come as a shock to many, but the use of additives in tequila production is not only permitted, but also not required to be disclosed on the label. According to the Norma (NOM), the rules governing tequila production, a producer can use additives as long as it does not exceed 1% of the total volume of the tequila. However, if the amount of additive used exceeds this limit, it must be labeled as a "licor" or a "crema."
This means that many brands can, and do, use additives in their tequila without the consumer ever knowing. And to make matters worse, these brands can make claims that they are not using any additives at all, all while staying within the legal limit.
But how can you, as a consumer, protect yourself from unknowingly buying a bottle of adulterated tequila? The truth is, it's difficult. The lack of transparency in the industry makes it hard for consumers to make informed decisions.
It's time for the tequila industry to be transparent about the use of additives in their products. Consumers have the right to know what they are drinking and deserve access to accurate information about the products they purchase.
So, next time you reach for that bottle of tequila, think twice. You may be unknowingly drinking a concoction of chemicals and additives, instead of the pure and natural spirit you thought you were getting.
Here are the likely approved "flavorings" that are helping that Top Shelf or celebrity brand improve to 73 points. Just the tip of a toothpick of flavoring can turn a bottle of silver/Blanco into what appears to be a rich oaky Anejo. Thus capable of adding maybe 10 points to the score from a very substandard product.
1. Sweetening Agents: Tequila producers may use a variety of sweetening agents, such as agave nectar, corn syrup, cane sugar, aspartame, sucralose, and stevia, to make their product sweeter. These sweetening agents can be combined to create a syrup or "jarabe", which can also contain natural fruits and herbs to add aromas and flavors. Remember a chemical can mimic a fruit and be considered natural. Because the end result is of something in nature. It’s a scam basically.
2. Glycerin: Glycerin is a natural byproduct of fermentation and distillation, but it can also be added to create a more rounded mouth feel. It is one of the most common additives used in tequila, as it can make a tequila that is "thin" or watery feel fuller and thicker in the mouth. And thus adding points to the score.
3. Oak Extract: Oak extract is used to add the aromas and flavors found in oak barrels to the finished product. This can make a tequila smell or taste as though it has been aged longer than it actually has.
4. Caramel Color: Caramel color is primarily used to add color to the finished product. It has a mildly bitter taste and is used for aesthetic purposes.
You might ask what brands are taking advantage of using additives. It's basically guilty until proven innocent in this situation. The majority of the brands in the market are definitely taking advantage of this. And in their eyes, they're not doing anything wrong.
So how would you check your favorite brand of tequila?
Are you a tequila lover looking for the purest, most transparent options on the market? Look no further! In 2020, the Tequila Matchmaker website launched an Additive-Free program, a platform for top brands and distilleries to showcase their commitment to transparency and purity in production processes. Joining the program is a voluntary choice, but those who do must renew their commitment annually.
On-site inspections deep dive into the production process, taking anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the number of brands and products they are reviewing at the distillery. They don't just audit production, they also ask a variety of questions and conduct a sensorial analysis throughout various stages of the tequila-making process to bring you the best of the best.
Visit the Tequila Matchmaker website for all the details. The list is constantly being updated of the participating brands.
We hope this helps your mission of enjoying pure agave tequila.
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