Tequila and mezcal threatened by new U.S. category Agave Spirits

Producers of mezcal and tequila have protested against the new classification in the U.S. that could undermine their hard work as well as Mexican culture

Tequila and mezcal threatened by new U.S. category Agave Spirits
Distillates of agave are part of Mexican culture – Photo: camaralenta/EL UNIVERSAL
English 24/07/2019 15:04 Juan Carlos Zavala Mexico City Actualizada 15:04
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Producers of mezcal and tequila joined to protest against a “usurpation” from the U.S. that implemented a category of drinks called Agave Spirits.

In a letter addressed to Graciela Márquez Colín, secretary of Economy of the federal government, the National Association of Designations of Origin (ANDO), headed by Ramón González Figueroa – also president of the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) – and by the secretary of the association Hipócrates Nolasco Cancino – president of the Mezcal Regulatory Council – asked the Mexican government to take action on the matter, since they asserted that this classification in the U.S. will force any drink in the world that is a distillate of agave to be commercialized in that country under the same category, without any distinction of its origin.

The ANDO warned about a possible confusion among consumers of distillates of agave after this new category was implemented in the U.S. to design those drinks produced in that country.

He added that places like Spain, Australia, Africa, and others, have already started to produce distillates of agave, “which can confuse the consumers, who can choose other products of agave thinking that they are similar to the ones from Mexico, which is far from true.”

To the association, this means an “opportunistic usurpation” at the expense of the work Mexican producers have developed according to their culture and who have been the only ones related to these plants for generations.

“This category, Agave Spirits, has started to emerge in the U.S., but certainly in the future, they will classify other distillates of agave like those from South Africa, Australia, and Spain,” the document reads.

The ANDO pointed out that commercial relationships between countries move at a fast pace and despite it being evident that it cannot be avoided to call things by their name, it considered that Mexico and its drinks, due to its history and culture, deserve not to be classified in the category of Agave Spirits along with other drinks that do not come from nor are produced in the country.

To accept it would be to allow the undermining or dissolution of the prestige and fame of the Mexican distillates of agave with designation of origin, mainly endorsed by the industry of tequila and mezcal.

“They must be separated, both in the regulatory and in the commercial classification; our drinks are identified by three values: the plant [agave], our ancestral culture in the elaboration of drinks, and Mexico, a country of great diversity and qualities, that together have been our way of life for hundreds of years and that now promote the commercialization and development of the towns of Mexico,” argues the ANDO.

The association proposed the Federal Ministry of Economy to create a subcategory that has one of the following names: “cultural drinks of Mexico,” “Mexican drinks with designation of origin,” “ancestral Mexican drinks,” or, as a second option “distillates of agave of the Mexican culture” which would exclude the Mexican agricultural rum with designation of origin, charanda, and possibly too sostol, or, as third option, “Mexican distillates of agave.”


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