Tequila's Dilution Process
The dilution of a tequila is when a high grade tequila, which can be of a 55% Alc.Vol. (Alcohol Volume), is added a good-quality demineralized water in order to adjust its levels of alcohol concentration. This level follows the official Mexican standard NOM-006-SCFI-2012 for alcoholic beverages, and can go from a minimum of a 35% Alc. Vol. to a maximum of a 55% Alc. Vol.
After dilution, we proceed to the homogenization process, at which the tequila gets mixed well with the demineralized water. In the case of an abocado young tequila (properly flavored and colored), it is recommended to apply oak or caramel color extracts before filtering it in order to avoid any turbidity or particle sediments in the final product.
The filtration of a tequila is when the solid particles found in a tequila get separated from the liquid.
Once the tequila has been diluted to the % Alc.Vol. that is required, and once all of the ingredients have been homogenized, we proceed to decide which filter to use for its proper filtration. Which is the appropriate filter? The one that, at the moment of filtrating the product, allows it to keep its particular profile, that is, the scent, body and appearance that distinguish that product in particular. It is very important make sure that these particular attributes of each product are achieved in order to maintain the quality that our consumers much value.
In the tequila market, there are different kinds of products, such as white, young, aged, vintage, and ultra aged. They all have their own characteristic aromas: floral, herbal, citrus, cooked agave, wood, vanilla, that is, aromas that are typical of a tequila. In the same way, they have their own flavors: astringent, spicy, acidic, bitter, sweet, and mild.
What are esters?
A very important issue in the production of tequilas is esters, which are the fatty acids found in a tequila. They are the ones that give body to tequila and also influence its taste. However, large amounts of esters can mean problems. Such is the case of white particle sediments, which can be seen when the product has been at low temperatures -between 4 to 6 degrees Celsius- and the appearance of the product is different, it looks as if it was polluted. Now, esters are a part of any tequila and, having them in the right amount is key to keeping the tequila's profile (flavor, aroma and body) intact.
Producing a clean, bright and full-bodied tequila
Each of our products have their own characteristics, which make them unique. It should always be taken into account what kind of final touch will be given to each of our products in order to decide its particular filtering process.
Each tequila's profile is kept in mind in when deciding the kind of filter that will be used in order to control the esters, that is, in order to eliminate a certain percentage of them. By doing so, we "polish" our filtration process and thus, obtain a clean, bright product, one with a well defined body and aromas.
It is important to make the formulation of each product in accordance with the legal requirements, for which the official Mexican standard NOM-006-SCFI-2012 of alcoholic beverages is taken into account.
According to the official tequila standards, the ingredients that can be added to a young product (abocado) to give it a different profile are: caramel color, oak extract or natural oak.
Kinds of Filters
- Cellulose plate. Made with a diatomaceous earth support filter + potential charge, which can be: filter plate with four holes at its ends, 16-cell cartridge.
- Carbon Plate. It has a mixture of powdered coal with cellulose mix. Can be built in 16-cell cartridges
- Bag filter. Constructed in polypropylene reinforced with an intermediate mesh of the same material to withstand high pressure.
- Spark plug and/or cartridge filters. Constructed in polypropylene, graded density depth, absolute denomination type, which can be: double open, with bayonet, with double connector O ring. Plus stainless steel cartridges of different microns.
Before Starting the Filtration Process
- Wash the hosting or equipment where the filter will be installed.
- Check each one of the filters that will be used: that are not broken or with blows.
- When installing them, make sure they are well placed, with their complete packages and the good sealing of them.
- Close the equipment, check its pressure gauge (that it has no defects), fill it with the tequila to be filtered, make sure it has no empty spaces (full to its max capacity) in order to have a larger filtration area.
- Check that there is no leakage and begin to pour the product little by little until it reaches the appropriate pressure, according to the kind of filter that is being used.
- Keep a record of the amount of filtered liters and of the pressure indicated by the manometer. It is recommended to register the pressure when the liquid enters the filter as well as the pressure when it comes out. This will help us monitor the behavior and life of the filter.
- Perform sampling during the filtering: check a sample against light to assess its physical appearance as well as its color, body, aromas and taste.
- Once all the filtered product has been obtained, homogenize a little the volume obtained to check that its % Alc. Vol. and color are the correct ones.
Requirements That Must be Met Before Packaging the Product
- Make sure that the product meets the specific characteristics required (grade, color, aroma, body, brightness). It is recommended to make a sensory evaluation in order to have standardized products with the same profile.
- A sampling by the Tequila Regulatory Council (C.R.T.) must be carried out. This sampling is made with three 1000 ml bottles each.
- What this sampling done by the CTR seeks, is to ensure the product's compliance with the requirements of the official Mexican standard NOM-006-SCFI-2012, regarding: grade, methanol, higher alcohols, aldehydes, esters, furfural, dry extract, total reducing sugars.
- If the product will be exported, the mentioned parameters must be taken into account and they must meet the parameters that are established for the market that it will exported to as well.
Once these requirements are covered, we can say that we have a product in conditions for its packaging.
The Official Tequila NOM-006-SCFI-2012
On May 24, 2012, the national advisory committee on user safety, commercial information and trade practices, approved the publication of the draft of the official norm of tequila NOM-006-SCFI-2012 of alcoholic beverages, and it was approved on September 28, 2012.
The following institutions participated in the elaboration of the official Mexican standard:
- CÁMARA NACIONAL DE LA INDUSTRIA TEQUILERA (CNIT)
- CONSEJO REGULADOR DEL TEQUILA A.C. (CRT)
- CONSEJO DE PRODUCTORES DE AGAVE
- CONSEJO DE AGRICULTORES DE AGAVE
- SECRETARÍA DE ECONOMIA
This Official Mexican Standard also makes reference to the Tequila Denomination of Origin, whose ownership corresponds to the Mexican State under the terms of the Industrial Property Law.
Some of the Mexican Norms for Alcoholic Beverages
- NMX-V-004-NORMEX-2005, Bebidas alcohólicas. Determination of furfural-Test methods (test). Declaration of validity published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on June 23, 2005.
- NMX-V-005-NORMEX-2005, Bebidas alcohólicas. Determination of aldehydes, esters, methanol and higher alcohols-Test methods (test). Declaration of validity published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on June 23, 2005.
- NMX-V-006-NORMEX-2005, Bebidas alcohólicas. Determination of direct and total reducing sugars-Test methods (test). Declaration of validity published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on June 23, 2005.
- NMX-V-013-NORMEX-2005, Bebidas alcohólicas. Determination of the alcohol content (alcohol percentage by volume at 293 K) (20ºC) (% Alc. Vol.) - Test methods (test). Declaration of validity published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on June 23, 2005.
- NMX-V-017-NORMEX-2005, Bebidas alcohólicas. Determination of dry extract and ashes-Test methods (test). Declaration of validity published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on June 23, 2005.
- NMX-V-049-NORMEX-2004, Bebidas alcohólicas. Alcoholic beverages containing Tequila-Denomination, labeling and specifications. Declaration of validity published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on May 21, 2004.
- NMX-V-050-NORMEX-2010, Bebidas alcohólicas. Determination of metals such as Copper (Cu), Lead (Pb), Arsenic (As), Zinc (Zn), Iron (Fe), Calcium (Ca), Mercury (Hg), Cadmium (Cd), by atomic absorption-Methods of test (test). Declaration of validity published in the Official Gazette of the Federation on February 22, 2011.
If you want to know more about the production processes of tequila, I suggest you follow our blog: Tequila Production Process. You can also come to Casa Sauza yourself and learn all about it right here with our experts.