Mexican Spirits Regulation
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This spreadsheet comparing the Mexican regulations of various alcoholic beverages was designed by SACRED for the purpose of helping people better understand what it means when something is called "mezcal," "tequila," "sotol," etc. Disclaimer: As with any legal documents, you don't truly know what they mean until they are challenged in a court of law — how we interpret them may not be the same as how a Mexican court interprets them. This document is copyright © 2019 SACRED, but it may be reproduced, so long as it is reproduced in its entirety. For more information, visit sacred.mx
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MezcalMezcal ArtisanalMezcal AncestralTequilaBacanoraRaicillaComitecoAgave Spirit (Aguardiente de Agave)PulqueSotolXtabentúnPoxCharandaRumBrandyVodkaWhiskey
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SourceNORMA Oficial Mexicana NOM-070-SCFI-2016, Bebidas alcohólicas-Mezcal-Especificaciones http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5472787&fecha=23/02/2017 and conversations with CRM repNOM-006-SCFI-2012 http://www.dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5282165&fecha=13/12/2012NOM-168-SCFI-2004
http://dof.gob.mx/nota_to_doc.php?codnota=4917328
DECLARACIÓN General de Protección de la Denominación de Origen Raicilla -- DOF: 28/06/2019 -- http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5564454&fecha=28/06/2019 (very new -- does not appear to be established as a NOM yet)NOM-199-SCFI-2017 http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5502882&fecha=30/10/2017NOM-199-SCFI-2017 http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5502882&fecha=30/10/2017NOM-199-SCFI-2017 http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5502882&fecha=30/10/2017NOM-159-SCFI-2004NOM-199-SCFI-2017 http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5502882&fecha=30/10/2017Does not appear to officially exist in Mexican regulationsNOM-199-SCFI-2017 http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5502882&fecha=30/10/2017 and NOM-144-SCFI-2000 http://legismex.mty.itesm.mx/normas/scfi/scfi144.pdfNOM-199-SCFI-2017 http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5502882&fecha=30/10/2017NOM-199-SCFI-2017 http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5502882&fecha=30/10/2017NOM-199-SCFI-2017 http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5502882&fecha=30/10/2017NOM-199-SCFI-2017 http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5502882&fecha=30/10/2017
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Certifying body for the distillery and each batchConsejo Mexicano Regulador de la Calidad del Mezcal (CRM) -- crm.org.mxConsejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT) - crt.org.mxSonoran Regulatory Council for BacanoraConsejo Mexicano Promotor de la Raicilla, ACNoneNoneNoneThere are two competing groups performing this certificationNoneConsejo Regulador del CharandaNoneNoneNoneNone for the category itself, but see expressions to the right>Whiskey DOs recognized by Mexico:
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Geographical restrictionsFrom all or some of the municipalities within these states: Oaxaca, Zacatecas, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, and PueblaAnywhere in Jalisco and in specificmunicipalities within these states: Guanajuato,Michoacan, Nayarit, and TamaulipasFrom specific municipalities within SonoraSpecific communities within Jalisco and NayaritNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsFrom specific municipalities within these states: Chihuahua, Coahuila, and DurangoNo restrictionsThe following municipalities of Michoacan: Ario, Cotija, Gabriel Zamora, Nuevo Parangaricutiro, Nuevo Urecho, Peribán, Los Reyes, Salvador Escalante, Tacámbaro, Tancítaro, Tangancícuaro, Taretan, Tocumbo, Turicato, Uruapan, and ZiracuaretiroNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNone for the category itselfWhisky bourbon — must follow the legal provisions that regulate the production of Bourbon Whiskey in the USA

Whisk(e)y canadiense — must follow the legal provisions that regulate the production of Canadian Whiskey in Canada; if made with a mixture of Canadian Whiskeys, then it is called Blended Canadian Whiskey

Whisk(e)y escocés — must follow the legal provisions that regulate the production of Scotch Whiskey in Scotland; if made with a mixture of Scotch Whiskeys, then it is called Blended Scotch Whiskey

Whisk(e)y irlandés — must follow the legal provisions that regulate the production of Irish Whiskey in Ireland and Northern Ireland; if made with a mixture of Irish Whiskeys, then it is called Blended Irish Whiskey

Whisk(e)y de centeno — must be distilled from a fermented mash of not less than 51% rye, the remaining 49% coming from other grains; distilled at less than 80% ABV

Whisk(e)y de Centeno Malteado — must be distilled from a fermented mash of not less than 51% malted rye, the remaining 49% coming from other grains; distilled at less than 80% ABV

Whisk(e)y de maíz — must be distilled from a fermented mash of not less than 80% corn; distilled at less than 80% ABV; unlike the other expressions in this category, this expression does not require any aging

Whisk(e)y de malta — must be distilled from a fermented mash of 100% malted barley; produced at less than 94.8% ABV

Whisk(e)y escocés de una sola malta — must be distilled from a fermented mash that includes malted barley from a single distillery (nothing about Scotland included here)

Whisk(e)y Tennessee — must follow the legal provisions that regulate the production of Tennessee Whiskey in the USA

Whiskey de trigo — must be distilled from a fermented mash of not less than 51% wheat, the remaining 49% coming from other grains; distilled at less than 80% ABV

Blended Whiskey — must be made by blending only different whiskeys
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Sugar source for fermentation100% from agave — no restrictions on the type of agave, so long as the agave comes from a region that is included within the geographical restrictionAt least 51% from Tequilana Weber Blue agave from a region that is included within the geographical restriction100% from Agave angustifolia Haw that has been grown and harvested by an accredited farm located within the geographical restriction100% from agave — no restrictions on the type of agave, except that Blue Weber (tequilana) cannot be used and must be mature before harvestingAt least 70% agave —no restrictions on the type of agave — with any remaining sugars coming from brown sugar or cane sugarAt least 51% agave —no restrictions on the type of agave — with remaining sugars coming from any sourceNo restrictions but some amount must be derived fromagaveAt least 51% sotol — no restrictions on the type of sotol, so long as the sotol comes from a region that is included within the geographical restrictionNo restrictions but should include some honey that was made by bees that pollinated the Xtabentún flower and aniseSugarcane juice or its derivatives, such as brown sugar, piloncillo, or molasses, from sugarcane grown within the aforementioned municipalities of Michoacan100% sugar cane100% grapes100% vegetal products100% from grains
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Cooking methodAgave must be cooked in an earthen (pit) oven, an above-ground masonry oven, or an autoclave (like a large presure cooker)Agave must be cooked in an earthen (pit) oven or in an above-ground masonry ovenAgave must be cooked in an earthen (pit) ovenNo restrictionsNo restrictionsAgave must be cooked in an earthen (pit) oven, an above-ground masonry oven, or an autoclave; if designated Artesenal or Ancestral, autoclave is not allowedNo restrictions (but generally understood that the agave is not cooked)No restrictionsNo restrictions (but generally understood that the agave is not cooked)No restrictionsNo restrictions (but generally understood that the honey is not cooked)No restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictions (but generally understood that the grapes are not cooked)No restrictionsNone for the category itself
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MillingHand tools, such as wooden mallets, mauls, and axes; stone or concrete wheels, such as tahonas and Egyptian and Chilean mills, or by any number of mechanical means, includinga shredder(like a wood-chipper), a continuous serial mill, or a diffuserHand tools, such as wooden mallets, mauls, and axes; stone or concrete wheels, such as tahonas and Egyptian and Chilean mills, or with a mechanical shredder (like a wood-chipper)Hand tools, such as wooden mallets, mauls, and axes, and stone or concrete wheels, such as tahonas and Egyptian and Chilean millsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsHand tools, stone or concrete wheels, such as tahonas and Egyptian and Chilean mills, or bymechanical means; if designated Ancestral, mechanical means are not allowedNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNot milled — the agave is caponed (castrated) and a well is dug into the heart, from which the sugars are harvestedNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNone for the category itself
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Fermentation methodIn receptacles made of steel, wood, clay, stone, or animal skins, or in hollowed-out tree trunks — may include but does not have to include the agave fibers, and the fermentation can be performed by wild or cultivated yeastsIn receptacles made of wood, clay, stone, or animal skins, or in hollowed-out tree trunks — may include but does not have to include the agave fibers, and the fermentation can be performed by wild or cultivated yeastsIn receptacles made of wood, clay, stone, or animal skins, or in hollowed-out tree trunks — may include but does not have to include the agave fibers, and the fermentation can be performed by wild or cultivated yeastsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsIn receptacles made of steel, wood, clay, or stone, or animal skins, or in hollowed-out tree trunks; if designated Artesenal or Ancestral, agave fibers must be included during fermentationNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictions except to say the receptacles must be sanitary and the fermentation must be spontaneous from the yeasts already on the sugarsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNone for the category itself
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Distillation methodUsing a still of any designIn a copper or clay still with either a clay, wood, copper, or stainless steel condenser — may include but does not have to include agave fibers in the distillationIn a direct-fired clay pot with either a clay or wood condenser — may include but does not have to include the agave fibers in the distillationNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictions, but if designated Artesenal, must be in a direct-fired copper or clay still no larger than 500 liters; and if Ancestral, must bea wood-fired claypot still, and agave fiber must be included during distillationNo restrictionsNo restrictionsIf distilled, would become Aguardiente or Comiteco and follow those standardsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNone for the category itself, but must be distilled at less than 94.8% ABV
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Distilled spirit must conform to these standards (per 100ml of alcohol unless otherwise stated)Between 100 and 500mg of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Between 30 and 300mg of methanol

Between 0 and 5mg of furfural

Between 0 and 40mg of aldehydes

Also not allowed more than a half milligram each of lead and arsenic per liter
Between 20mg and 500mg of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Between 30mg and 300mg of methanol

Maximum 5mg of furfural

Maximum 40mg of aldehydes

Between 2mg and 200mg of esters

Also not allowed more than a half milligram each of lead and arsenic per liter
Between 100mg and 400mg of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Between 30mg and 300mg of methanol

Maximum 4mg of furfural

Maximum 40mg of aldehydes

Between 2mg and 200mg of esters

Maximum 170mg of acetic acid

Also, per liter, not allowed more than a half milligram each of lead and arsenic; 1.5mg of zinc; 2mg of copper
Between 100mg and 500mg of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Between 30mg and 300mg of methanol

Maximum 5mg of furfural

Maximum 40mg of aldehydes

Also not allowed more than a half milligram each of lead and arsenic per liter
Maximum 500mg of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Maximum 300mg of methanol

Maximum 5mg of furfural

Maximum 40mg of aldehydes

Also not allowed more than a half milligram each of lead and arsenic per liter
Between 20mg and 500mg of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Between 30mg and 300mg of methanol

Maximum 5mg of furfural

Maximum 40mg of aldehydes

Between 2mg and 250mg of esters

Also not allowed more than a half milligram each of lead and arsenic per liter
Maximum 300mg of methanol

Also not allowed more than a half milligram each of lead and arsenic per liter
Between 20mg and 500mg of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Maximum 300mg of methanol

Maximum 4mg of furfural

Maximum 40mg of aldehydes

Between 2mg and 270mg of esters
No restrictionsBetween 20mg and 500mg of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Maximum 300mg of methanol

Maximum 4mg of furfural

Maximum 40mg of aldehydes

Between 2mg and 200mg of esters

Between 5mg and 110mg of acetic acid
Aged at least six months in white oak or oak containers

Maximum 500mg of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Maximum 30mg(sic) of methanol

Maximum 5mg of furfural

Maximum 40mg of aldehydes

Maximum 200mg of esters

Maximum 120mg of volatile acidity

Maximum 600mg of all volatile components other than ethyl alcohol

Also not allowed more than a half milligram each of lead and arsenic per liter
Aged at least six months in white oak or oak containers

Between 40mg and 500mg of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Between 20mg and 200mg of methanol

Maximum 5mg of furfural

Maximum 40mg of aldehydes

Between 30mg and 60mg of esters

Between 6mg and 300mg of acetic acid

Between 70mg and 600mg of total volatile components other than ethyl alcohol

Also, per liter, is not allowed more than a half milligram each of lead and arsenic, 35mg of sugar, and between a half and one milligram of ash
Maximum 30mg(sic) of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Maximum 10mg(sic) of methanol

Maximum 5mg of furfural

Maximum 10mg of aldehydes

Maximum 20mg of esters

Also not allowed more than a half milligram each of lead and arsenic per liter
If you make flavored vodka, you are not allowed any esters but your aldehydes can shoot up to 40mg
Aged at least least three years in white oak or oak barrels of a capacity less than or equal to 700 liters

Between 10mg and 1,000mg of superior alcohols (such as erythritol, arabitol, mannitol, sorbitol and inositol)

Maximum 50mg(sic) of methanol

Maximum 5mg of furfural

Maximum 40mg of aldehydes

Also not allowed more than a half milligram each of lead and arsenic per liter
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Bottling restrictionsMust be bottled in MexicoMust be bottled in new glass bottles orpolyethylene terephthalate (PET) of no greater than five liters; if 100% agave, bottling must take place within the approved geographical regionMust be bottled in one of the approved municipalities within Sonora, in containers no larger than five litersMust be bottled within the area of geographic restrictionNo restrictionsNo restrictions, but if bottled in Mexico, must conform to all of the above; if exported in bulk outside of Mexico, none of the requirements noted here applyNo restrictions (but to bottle, you have to pasteurize, which kills much of the microbial content that creates the flavor)If 100% Sotol, it must be bottled in a region that is included within the geographical restrictionNo restrictionsMust be bottled with the aforementioned municipalities of Michoacan, in new glass containers of no greater than 5 liters eachNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictionsNo restrictions
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Minimum and maximum ABV (alcohol by volume)35% - 55% (though USA regulatory body TTB says must be above 40%)35% - 55% (though TTB says must be above 40%)38% - 55%35% - 55%40% - 50%35% - 55%4% - 7.5% for natural, 2% - 7.5% for cured (flavored)35% - 55%20% - 30%35% - 55%35% - 55%35% - 55%35% - 55%40% - 55%
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Additional label definitionsJoven or Blanco — clear and colorless, and is considered unaged

Madurado en Vidrio — aged in glass for at least a year, either undeground or in a relatively light-free, temperate place

Reposado — aged in wood for between two and 12 months in a relatively light-free, temperate place with low humidity

Añejo — aged in wood vessels of 1,000 liters or less for at least a year in a relatively light-free, temperate place with low humidity

Abocado con… — flavored with additional ingredients, such as gusano or agave nectar

Destilado con… — flavored by adding ingredients during distillation, as with a “pechuga”
100% Agave — distilled exclusively from the fermented sugars of Tequilana Blue Weber agave, sourced from within the geographical restriction

Blanco or Silver — aged less than two months in oak containers

Joven or Gold — a blend of Blanco with Reposado, Añejo, or Extra Añejo; also called Oro; esters can go as high as 350mg

Reposado — aged at least two months in oak containers; if a Reposado is mixed with an Añejo or Extra Añejo, the resultant batch is regarded as a Reposado; esters can go as high as 250mg

Añejo — aged at least one year in oak containers no larger than 600 liters; if an Añejo is mixed with an Extra Añejo, the resultant batch is regarded as an Añejo; esters can go as high as 250mg

Extra Añejo — aged at least three years in oak containers no larger than 600 liters; esters can go as high as 250mg
Blanco — unaged

Joven or Oro — a blend of Blanco with Reposado or Añejo

Reposado — aged at least two months in oak containers; if various batches are blended, the weighted average of those batches becomes the age of the bacanora; esters can go as high as 250mg

Añejo — aged at least one year in oak containers no larger than 200 liters; if various batches are blended, the weighted average of those batches becomes the age of the sotol; esters can go as high as 250mg
Joven or Blanco — clear and colorless, and is considered unaged

Madurado en Vidrio — aged in glass for at least a year, either undeground or in a relatively light-free, temperate place

Reposado or Gold — aged in wood for between two and 12 months in a relatively light-free, temperate place with low humidity

Añejo — aged in wood for at least a year in a relatively light-free, temperate place with low humidity

Abocado con… — flavored with additional ingredients

Destilado con… — flavored by adding ingredients during distillation, exclusively for expressions designated either Artesenal or Ancestral
NoneNoneNatural Pulque — to which there has NOT been added fruit juice or concentrate, natural vegetables, seeds or dairy products

Cured Pulque — to which there HAS been added fruit juice or concentrate, natural vegetables, seeds or dairy products
100% Sotol — distilled exclusively from the fermented sugars of sotol

Blanco — unaged

Joven — a blend of Blanco with Reposado or Añejo; also called Oro; esters can go as high as 350mg

Reposado — aged at least two months in containers contructed from anything; if various batches are blended, the weighted average of those batches becomes the age of the sotol; esters can go as high as 360mg

Añejo — aged at least one year in containers no larger than 210 liters that are contructed from anything; if various batches are blended, the weighted average of those batches becomes the age of the sotol; esters can go as high as 360mg
NoneBlanco — unaged

Dorado or Oro — a blend of Blanco with Reposado or Añejo

Reposado — aged at least two months in oak containers of a capacity of no more than 5,000 liters

Añejo or Añejado — aged at least one year in oak containers of a capacity of no more than 300 liters
Rum — aged a minimum of six months in white oak or oak containers

Aged Rum — aged a minimum of one year, with at least the first six months being aged in white oak or oak containers
Brandy — aged a minimum of six months in white oak or oak containers

Brandy Reserva — aged a minimum of one year, with at least the first six months being aged in white oak or oak containers, and the esters can climb as high as 90mg per 100ml, with the sum of the volatile components (other than ethyl alcohol) going as high as 610mg per 100ml

Brandy Gran Reserva — aged a minimum of three years, with at least the first six months being aged in white oak or oak containers, and the esters can climb as high as 150mg per 100ml, with the sum of the volatile components (other than ethyl alcohol) going as high as 620mg per 100ml
If you make flavored vodka, you are not allowed any esters but your aldehydes can shoot up to 40mgSee column to the right >
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Can sweeteners, coloring agents, fragrances, and flavorings be added?Yes, so long as the ingredient has been declared safe for consumption by the Ministry of Health. The CRM says that the only classification that can include sweeteners, coloring agents, fragrances, and flavorings are those declared "Abocado con," and up to two of the ingredients must be included on the label.Yes, but restricted to a maximum of 75g per liter ofsugars and 85g per liter of dry extract, to a maximum of 1% of the total volumeYes, but restricted to a maximum of 1% by volumeYes, but restricted to a maximum of 75g per liter ofsugars and 85g per liter of dry extractYes, but restricted to a maximum of 75g per liter ofsugars and 85g per liter of dry extractYes, but restricted to a maximum of 75g per liter ofsugars and 85g per liter of dry extractYesUp to 1% of the volume can consist of glycerin, a sugar-based syrup, caramel color, and/or oak extractYesUp to 1.1% of the volume can consist of glycerin, a sugar-based syrup, caramel color, and/or oak extractYes, but restricted to a maximum of 75g per liter ofsugars and 85g per liter of dry extractYes, but restricted to a maximum of 75g per liter ofsugars and 85g per liter of dry extractYes, but restricted to a maximum of 75g per liter ofsugars and 85g per liter of dry extractYes
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