Hi everyone! There are many ways you can enjoy Tequila, tasty cocktails, straight by shot glass (which we really don’t really recommend), or in a tasting event/class that you learned how to truly appreciate it.
Do you have an image to Tequila like “too strong in alcohol%”, “dangerous black out”, or crazy people’s drink”? These might still be the images of Tequila to the mass majority of Japanese but today, we are going to reveal the true face of Tequila that you may not know before, by interviewing with Miss Alba, the representative for Asia in CRT. It is one of the highly regulated alcohols, by strict Mexican laws and regulations enforced by CRT. After reading this interview article, you will change you image of Tequila.
Japanese 日本語の記事はこちら https://www.mexi-town.com/post/crt_tequila
CRT, the conformity assessment agency founded in 1994
MEXI TOWN (MT): Today, we are very proud to interview with Miss Alba Aviles, the representative for Asia of Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT). Thank you for taking our interview.
Alba: Welcome to CRT, it is always a pleasure to meet up with people who want to know about what we do and the culture, history, and true value of Tequila.
MT: The pleasure is ours too (😊). For Tequila aficionados/lovers, they may have known 1 or 2 things about CRT but I believe that many Japanese do not know yet, can you please tell us what is Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT)?
Alba: Of course! CRT was founded on May 1994, it’s an inter-professional institution, which gathers everyone involved in the production of Tequila. We are a conformity assessment agency that includes an inspection unit, a certification organism and test laboratories, with national and international reach, the international offices are in China, Spain, Switzerland, and USA.
CRT is a neutral private non-profit organization based on other European Appellations of Origin, accredited by EMA and approved by DGN (General Directorate of Norms) from the Ministry of Economy.
There are 4 major members in CRT.
Tequila producers (distilleries)
Together we make sure all Tequila that is marketed complies with the Standard for Tequila, ensuring its innocuity for the consumers.
MT: Thank you, that sounds like a very important role for Tequila! What do you do exactly?
Alba: Basically, as a conformity assessment agency you can consider us like a third-party auditing and inspecting organization for the entire Tequila industry. We verify and certify the compliance with the Mexican standard NOM-006, safeguard the Appellation of Origin for Tequila in Mexico and abroad, guaranteeing consumers the authenticity of tequila and issue timely and accurate information for agave – tequila productive chain. And we don’t favor any brand nor to distinguish what Tequila is “good” or “high quality.
The name “Tequila” belongs to Mexican government and it is a product that has a recognized Appellation of Origin, which means everything from the main ingredient to the final process must be done in the authorized designated areas (the only exception is category Tequila, which is made with minimum 51 % blue agave sugars and 49% of other sugar sources and can be bottled outside the Appellation of Origin of Mexico, through authorized bottlers by the Ministry of Economy of Mexico), for the second category: Tequila 100% agave, it can only be bottled in the protected area, similar to Champagne or Cognac.
The 4 important areas of CRT
There are 3 main pillar areas in CRT and additional management areas that support CRT´s activities:
Management areas (such as International affairs )
In the Inspection department, we check:
1. There is physical confirmation of all the processes, and a permanent inspection of each and every unitary operation including the nature of the raw material (blue agave) confirming that:
a) The Agave azul was produced in the designated area of the Appellation of Origin which includes these 5 states in Mexico (Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, and Nayarit) a total of 181 municipalities.
b) It was grown in a registered plantation, remembering that all agave that is going to use for Tequila production must be registered with CRT. It is necessary to guarantee that the agave complies with the NOM-006 from the “Jima” (harvesting) to its arrival to the Tequila factories.
2. In formulation we verify the elaboration of Tequila and Tequila 100% agave, as well as the inventory control of other sugars (in the case of Tequila category production).
3. Document Review, such as accounting documents, commercial information including labels, good manufacturing practices and quality systems.
4. Laboratory Tests, sampling measurements and balance of materials.
All production processes must follow the Official Mexican Standard of Tequila (Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-006-SCFI-2012, Alcoholic-drinks-Tequila-Specifications) and official set of rules to standardize Tequila production to ensure the safety and quality.
In the Certification department, we issue certificates once the Inspection Unit testified. That evidence has been obtained about the compliance of the process with NOM-006-SCFI-2012, the Certification department issues the document that testifies to it.
The types of certificates are:
Certificate of compliance with the current standard (NOM-006)
Certificates of authenticity for tequila export in bulk.
Certificates of authenticity for bottled product.
Certificates for national marketing in bulk.
In conclusion the export certificate is a document issued by the CRT to the exporter with the purpose of providing evidence that the spirit contained in the bottles or tanks is authentic Tequila.
One copy of this Export Certificate is surrendered at Mexican Customs every time Tequila is exported from Mexico. Another one must be kept for the port of entry of country of import.
In the Laboratory department, we exam:
Sugar content in the raw materials (Agave/other sugars)
Tequila samples of every batch produced, to make sure if the final product is safe for consumption and follows the regulations.
In the International affair department, we work with Mexican and local country governments:
Protecting and registering the designation of origin of Tequila (DOT) in the world, include the HQ in Guadalajara (Mexico) and offices in Washington DC (United States), Geneva (Switzerland), Madrid (Spain), and Shanghai (China).
Monitoring and receiving ANONYMOUS COMPLAINTS of apocryphal products that claim to be Tequila from local markets in the world.
Surveillance of Tequila (non 100% agave) bottled abroad of Mexico to prevent any frauds.
Fostering the Tequila Culture by programs like Distintivo T and Professionalization in the culture of Tequila. And also by time to time tasting/pairing events without favoring any Tequila brands.
MT: Wow! That is amazing to know CRT uses the highest standards and regulations to protect Tequila, and enforce the safety of consumption. It is an amazing work. I believe some people will be interested in working in CRT. What kind of people does CRT look for?
Regard the Distintivo T and Professionalization in the culture of Tequila and tasting/pairing events of Tequila you just mentioned, can you tell us more detail about it?
Interested in learning about Tequila?
Alba: We always welcome the people who have professional skills with passion to join us. We look for college graduated or above, and profession in agricultural, engineers, laboratory, microbiologist, administrative area, custom, accounting, and others.
For Distintivo T, now we are heading to the more interesting part (😄). The first one we had was Distintivo T, it was designed by CRT and started in 2003 in order to satisfy the need of the Agave - Tequila production chain and of different organizations, and spread the Authentic Culture of Tequila and promote its consumption and protect the Appellation of Origin of this drink that is a National Heritage.
Distintivo T is in Spanish and it also can be called Award T in English. It means that you’re outstanding by the Tequila knowledge and training that you learn from this program.
This program is available to hotels, restaurants, bars, event and show rooms, as well as to establishments. It is not available for individual person or any establishments that are not in hospitality business.
In this program, from the business owner to all employees will learn:
INTRODUCTION TO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES AND TEQUILA REGULATIONS
HISTORY OF TEQUILA
AGAVE, CULTIVATION AND HARVEST
TEQUILA PREPARATION PROCESS
TASTING AND FINAL EXAM
In the tasting section (if you require), you will need to prepare at least 3 different classes of Tequila, the usual options are Blanco, Reposado,and Añejo. Tequila Joven (also called Gold) and Extra Añejo may be optional for the tasting. You will combine the knowledge you just learned in class and know how to taste it in the correct ways.
The Tequila to be used in tasting can be any brands in any price, as long as they are authentic Tequila. The 2 reasons are, CRT can’t favor any brands, and the purpose of this tasting is not training you to become an amazing Tequila taster who can name all aromas and flavors that he/she gets in just 1 sip like some badass movie or TV characters (😊). It is to know how to taste it properly, and how 3 classes (or 5 classes) are different to each other. We also will do physical-check of your establishment to guide you how to present Tequila to customers properly.
In the last part of this program, you will take a paper exam and you need to answer correct at least 80% of all questions in order to pass the exam and receive a diploma and a plate of Distintivo T, to be placed in the establishments.
This program and training are FREE OF CHARGE. CRT doesn’t charge fees, nor should anyone generate profit from it. The only costs that may occur are to cover the cost of travel such as transportation, meals, hotel stays for the lecturer (in most case of Asia, which will be me), Distintivo T plate cost (if you pass the exam), and other necessary costs in order to hold this program.
MT: What an amazing program, and it‘s free! I can’t believe it! (😊)
Not only how Tequila is made by what ingredient, but also its culture and history origin, combine with physical training and a real deal test to prove the qualification. We can see how Tequila education is taken seriously with a lot of love and hard working from CRT.
Professionalization in the culture of Tequila
How about the Professionalization in the culture of Tequila and tasting/pairing events of Tequila? Are they different from Distintivo T?
Alba: As the Distintivo T is only for hospitality establishments and we have received many requests from individual person who want to learn Tequila, we made the Professionalization in the culture of Tequila program for general public. The knowledge that you will learn, tasting and paper exam are the same to Distintivo T. Also, it’s free of charge, only the necessary costs that are needed in order to hold the program.
The only 3 different things are:
The name of diploma is “Professionalization in the culture of Tequila”, not “Distintivo T”
You won’t receive the plate of “Distintivo T” because it’s only for hospitality establishments
No establishment physical checking because you are an individual person interested in learning about Tequila and its culture.
For the tasting/pairing event, we teach people how to enjoy Tequila properly, and what food will be good to pair with. And again, even in an event like this, we don’t favor any specific brands.
MT: Thank you for this important information. It is great to know even just an ordinary person can learn about Tequila from the CRT, and more possibility to have the true expert for a Tequila event that we may hold even in Japan.
Alba: Yes, we are always there to help you with Tequila (😊). Actually, since the pandemic of COVID-19 occurred in last year and we couldn’t do any face-to-face activities, we started ZOOM online for Professionalization in the culture of Tequila with some countries. You only need to have 5 or more people to join.
In near future, we are even going to expand it to make Distintivo T available online too. You will join ZOOM meeting for the class, and taking the exam by logging into ours exam system to take the test with time limitation. Of course the establishment must comply with the same requirements as the physical establishment examination.
MT: That’s exciting! I believe many Japanese will be happy to join the opportunity of learning Tequila online.
Tequila is literally Mexico in you glass!
For the last thing, can you give us(Japanese) a message of why to drink Tequila and why it is fun to learn about Tequila?
Alba: Because Tequila is literally Mexico in you glass! (😊)
When drink it, you can feel the essences of water, soil, climate, agave, wood (for aged Tequilas), and hard working people of Mexico, without needing to leave Japan. Tequila is our heritage and the gift from Mexico to the world.
We always recommend you drink Tequila slowly. Savor it, smell the aromas like smelling a beautiful bouquet, and sip it gently like a kiss to your love. The agave takes at least 6 to 7 years to mature and be able to use for making Tequila, you don’t need to finish your dink by shot in 0.6 second (😊).
We always open the door and waiting for you to learn about Tequila and its culture, ARIGATO!
It was a great honor to interview with CRT, one of the most important Tequila organizations in the world. CRT assembles the Tequila experts and government agencies to play an important role in Tequila industry, and that may lead you to feel it's hard to approach to.
In fact, it's completely the opposite. All people there are very friendly and easy to talk to, Miss Alba has been to Japan several times for Tequila related activities, and Japan is one of her favorite countries too.
Before the interview we have had some basic ideas of CRT, but after digging more detail with Miss Alba, we were surprised by how strict and how detail-oriented that CRT is, in order to protect Tequila. Once again we feel that Tequila is Mexico's national heritage and just like what Miss Alba told us, you don't need to drink it in 0.6 second.
"Tequila is literally Mexico in you glass!", what a great expression and completely truth about Tequila.
Enjoy your favorite Tequila in the glass is like being to the agave landscape under the bright sun and clear blue sky with the person you love. And who knows, you may hear the Mariachi music from somewhere in your head (😆). Let's take our time and enjoy it like Mexican ladies and gentlemen!