What's on a label anyway?

November 20, 2018

What's on a label anyway?

There is so much to look at when selecting a bottle of tequila; here is a list of required elements on a label to help sort through the noise and focus on what really matters:

The CRT requires the following to be on all tequila labels:

  1. Type (tipo) or category of tequila (blanco, añejo, reposado, etc.); see our post on "Types of Tequila" to learn more
  2. Purity (only 100% agave is labeled as such- if it doesn't say it is 100% agave on the label then it is a mixto, aka hangover juice). *Note that since the shortage in 1999-2000, several companies have changed their 100% agave products into mixto to keep prices low. Terms like “100% natural,” “100% Mexican,” “100% natural product,” “100% aged” or other similar statements are prohibited
  3. NOM (distiller registration number). Take a NOM list with you. The brand (name) is not any real indication of who makes the product, so a good NOM list is an absolute necessity to know who the players are. With contract distilling at an all-time high, we only source boutique brands from small distilleries, places where  you can visit, see, and meet the people behind the product.  We like tequilamatchmaker.com as a handy reference to tell the difference between craft tequila and tequila factories who just slap a label on a bottle to build a brand. 
  4. Distiller's name and address (not always shown in full on the front and sometimes only indicating a town and state). This may be the parent company's or corporation's address, or the administration office 
  5. CRT - indication the Tequila Regulatory Council has certified the product - not a guarantee of quality, however - simply that the CRT has approved the process at the company's site and it meets the legal requirements
  6. Hecho en Mexico - Made in Mexico. All 100% agave tequilas can only be made and bottled in Mexico. It can also say "producto de Mexico" or "elaborado en Mexico." Hecho a mano means 'handmade' and is not an official term but usually indicates traditional or artesanal production processes
  7. DOT - denomination of origin (tequila) number, indicating compliance with Mexican regulations regarding where the product was made. This is not on all labels;
  8. Brand name -  Usually accompanied by a graphic or a logo and a trademark identifier such as ® or “MR” ™.
  9. The alcohol content - Tequilas in Mexico are usually 38-40% alcohol, but legally may be higher, up to 50%;
  10. Any additives such as flavor or aroma
  11. The volume of the contents in milliliters (i.e. 200, 375, 500 or 750 ml) or litres
  12. Lot or batch: each bottle must be engraved or stamped with the coded identification of the lot to which it belongs (see image, below);  
  13. Any warning statements set forth in health legislation or any information required by other legal provisions applicable to alcoholic beverages;
  14. Of course it should also say "tequila" on the label - otherwise it could be anything inside the bottle. But the word 'tequila' alone without 100% agave also means it is a mixto.
  15. Some bottles may have a number to indicate the batch size and the bottle's number in that batch. This is not a requirement, but it may also indicate the size of any particular production.