The Chemical Composition of Tequila

por Equipo Casa Sauza | Jul 7, 2023 1:54:29 PM

composicion quimica del tequila

Tequila is a spirit drink obtained from the distillation of the fermented musts of cooked agave juices. The chemical composition of this drink is approximately 99% a mixture: alcohol (ethanol) and water; however, the remaining 1% is what makes the difference.

Tequila Chromatographic Fingerprint

When one reviews the tequila standard (NOM-006-SCFI-2012), it indicates around a dozen compounds to follow. However, when analysis tests where the compounds are concentrated are used, what is observed are more than a hundred compounds.

This is wonderful and is similar to when one observes a drop of water through a microscope and can see how something so simple is transformed through the lens into something so complex and diverse.

In the following images, you can see these facts.

Muestra cromatografica del tequila

Can you make synthetic tequila?

I once read in a journal that American scientists identified and quantified around 160 compounds in a tequila. What they did next was to prepare a solution with the same components and in the same concentrations.

That is, they tried to prepare a synthetic drink based on the chemical composition of tequila. The result was a bit frustrating since the organoleptic characteristics could not match the original tequila.

What happened? 160 compounds and could not match the original tequila. How was this possible?

How many chemical compounds does tequila have?

As a Chemist, and in my experience, I can tell you that the original tequila, the object of study, is not made up of only 160 compounds. There are many more compounds that make it up.

At Casa Sauza, one of the main objectives is to establish sensory profiles, not only for tequila as a final product but also for each intermediate product (by-products) in each of the stages of the process.

Methodology for the chemical analysis of tequila.

It may seem simple to establish sensory profiles; however, it is hard work that requires specialized technical knowledge of those who do it; it is very important to know the analysis techniques and their scope and limitations.

The most widely used technique for this application is gas chromatography with mass spectrometry. Gas chromatography is used to separate the compounds that make up the sample, in our case, tequila. Once the compounds have been separated, they will be identified and quantified by mass spectrometry.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is very important to concentrate the compounds by means of an extraction technique. The most commonly used technique is liquid-liquid extraction. In this, an organic solvent immiscible with tequila is used, both shaken vigorously in a separatory funnel. Once the compounds have migrated to the organic solvent, it is evaporated in a special device with which it is possible to concentrate the compounds.

Utilities of knowing the chemical/sensory profiles of tequilas

  • In the case of adulteration, the differences between authentic and fake tequila can be categorically shown.
  • Each tequila-producing company may establish chemical/aromatic standards for each of its tequilas.
  • In the case of reposados, añejos, and extra añejos tequilas, the actual degree of aging can be known; that is to say, it will be possible to know the chemical/aromatic contribution that the wood contributes to the tequila.

Challenges of chemical/sensory profiles in tequilas

Finally, it is worth mentioning that this technique is not exclusive to tequila. It can be applied to any type of alcoholic beverage, and even better, it can be used to monitor each of the by-products generated in each of the alcoholic beverage production stages.

We invite you to come to Casa Sauza and learn more about our tequila production processes:

cual es el mejor tequila


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