Opposition to NOM 199 for Agave Distillates

Opposition to NOM 199 for Agave Distillates

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Add your voice to the opposition of NOM 199 by researchers, academics and traditional producers of agave spirits in Mexico!

Sign the petition below

When we at TIP hear of proposed Mexican legislation regarding agave spirits, naturally our collective ears perk up. If such legislation threatens to harm entire categories of traditional agave distilling, we deem it critical to spread the word to our peers in the beverage industry. Some of you will remember the events of 2012. Once again, it falls to all of us to give voice to the custodians of traditional agave distilled spirits.

A new piece of proposed legislation (PROY-NOM-199-SCFI-2015) governing the manufacture, naming and labelling of all non-DO distillates, threatens traditional agave spirits in Mexico. This imperils the very livelihoods of entire communities, and stands to curtail product diversity and transparency for the consumer.

NOM 199 seeks to limit the use of the words “agave” and “maguey” to agave distillates produced within already-present DO’s (Denominations of Origen: similar to AOC’s and DOC’s in other parts of the world). If this legislation is accepted, agave distillers outside of a DO would lose the right to declare on their label either the primary ingredient or the means of production, thereby functionally undoing all of the strides that have been made in recent years towards a culture of agave dedicated to transparency, traceability, fair and ethical practices, and sustainability.

All non-DO distillates (traditional, artisanal, or otherwise) would then be labelled under the generalized heading of Komil. Komil is an Aztec word, broadly defined as “alcoholic drinks”. It is a word without a context within this industry, and the stroke of a pen would make it a fuzzy, catch-all term for both 100% Agave distillates and every type of Mixto (a combination of agave distillate and grain neutral or cane-distilled spirits) produced. This means that barring sudden and uncharacteristic transparency on the part of giant spirits producers and tequila houses, everyone’s packaging within this artificially wide category would be silent on how and where your “Komil” is made of or even what is in it.

Consider the distillers of Mezcal who live and produce–and whose forebearers have lived and produced for centuries–outside of the legally accepted DO for Mezcal. There are a lot of them. Right now, they must bottle and sell their small batch products as “Agave Distillate”, because of where they distil. If NOM 199 were enacted, those producers would be forced to bottle and sell as Komil, which would render craft and traditional producers indistinguishable from the raft of other non-DO products, many of which are industrial and non-traditional in nature.

In a nutshell what the newly proposed NOM will do is rob thousands of working families of their culturally traditional nomenclature, as well as the ability to sell their products with transparency and pride, while throwing wider the doors to big brands and potentially denuding the landscape of the very plants that we are all working so hard to preserve and enjoy

If we care about the future of agave, agave distillates, and the people whose lives are built around its propagation, harvesting and distillation, we can not allow this proposition to become law. Without our action they will have no future.

Sign the petition against NOM 199 and endorsing these two proposals:

Protest Letter of José de Jesús Hernández López. El Colegio de Michoacán A.C./CIESAS Occidente (English(Español)


Manifesto from the Volcanoes of Colima in opposition to the proposed NOM-199 SCFI-2015 and in defense of the traditional mezcales of Mexico (English(Español)


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Who is the Tequila Interchange Project?

The Tequila Interchange Project (TIP) is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization based in the United States which advocates for sustainability, preservation of tradition and quality, and just labor practices in the agave distilled spirits industries. We are a coalition of bartenders, bar and restaurant owners, industry professionals, academic researchers, and agave lovers in the United States, Mexico and around the world. We aim to provide the materials and information bartenders and industry professionals need to educate their customers and themselves. Our goal is to preserve the opportunity for small and medium producers to access the global market and encourage responsible growth of the spirit categories we love.

Using the platform we have built since 2010, we aim to amplify all of the expert voices on the ground (and in the field) to honor the tradition of tequila and agave distilled spirits. In 2012, our global community collected of 3000+ signatures in 48 hours voicing opposition to Tequila NOM 186 in 2012. This was the first display of our collective voice and the impact that it can have. We plan to mobilize our network in support of some critical items in NOM 070 and present them to the CRM. We seek to tell the story of agave spirits to the world and preserve a culture that transcends brands, industries, and labels. This story begins with the people, their communities, and their families. TIP intends to use our power as consumers to support the best interest of the producers who are ethically producing quality spirits. We believe that the following items of proposed NOM 070 represent the best possible scenario for legislation. We also propose additions to the NOM which we believe will better support the rights of artisanal and ancestral producers.

Special thanks to Mary K Long and Miguel Huerta for translations of the Protest Letter and the Manifesto


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