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Making Tequila


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#1 Guest_Nathan Sellers_Guest

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 02:49 AM

My wife and I are just about to move to Argentina where we will be running a 35 acre farm. We are seriously considering planting 5 acres of Blue Agave with an eye toward producing our own Tequila. It just so happens that the location of the farm will give us the perfect environment for growing Agave, and we are getting excited about it. We understand that we will not see any product for a decade, but it should be fun. Any tips or ideas about this? Do you know of any other farms outside of Mexico where Agave is grown for Tequila production?

#2 I. Chadwick

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Posted 12 October 2003 - 04:14 PM

You can't make "tequila" because it's an appellation controllee - the name is reserved and protected by international law. Mezcal also has that designation. They can only be made with that name in specific regions of Mexico by approved producers.

The best you can make is agave moonshine. It's the same as making hootch and calling it "scotch" or "cognac."

Most countries control the production of distilled spirits very jealously. It's a federal issue in the USA and involves a very aggressive IRS and FBI when someone tries make moonshine. Very serious charges for anyone making unlicensed spirits in Canada or the USA.

And... it's difficult to impossible to get blue agave, let alone find the appropriate conditions in which to grow it. The plant is in serious shortage, grown mostly from shoots and hoarded by the farmers and producers. Most countries strictly control importation of plants and vegetables and you may not be able to get any into your country (you CANNOT import plants into Canada or the USA without appropriate approvals and permits).

Finally ... what do you think you could possibly do in your basement to make something that even vaguely came close to the quality of a tequila made by a company with all the right equipment and 100 years' experience? Make it simple: buy it.

#3 reifer

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Posted 14 October 2003 - 08:39 AM

While I agree with the comments above that it is easier to buy it then make it I think that the response was a bit harsh.
Obviously you could not make and sell "tequila" under that name. Or, you couldn't in many countries.
There is a plan underfoot, however, to make agave spirits in S. Africa and sell them world wide. I understand that in over half the countries of the world it can and probably will be sold as "tequila". While I find that distasteful it is a fact. Latest news is it will be on the market in a familiar cactus bottle within the year.
In the other countries like the US it will be sold as something else, "elixer de agave", agave spirits, whatever.
No one can make Champagn either but there is a lot of sparkling wine method Champ. that is made and sold world wide. Bourdeau, Burgundy, etc are also protected but you can find Meritage, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, etc from zillions of places in the world. All of these examples are hardly Hootch or moonshine.
But, the main point is that if someone wants to make tequila for their own consumption, who cares? If I was fool enough to do it, you can bet your ass, that I would call it "tequila". I do have a barrel at home filled with silver that I am "making" anejo out of. I don't have a NOM but when I serve it to my friends, it will be tequila.
As to the availability of blue agave I'm not so sure that it is that hard to get. I buy it regularly to plant in my yard just for fun. They are planting it like crazy in places where it was never grown before to get away from the diseases around Tequila. Import/export issues might be difficult but, probably not impossible.
So if you're dying to have a little agave field and want to make tequila in 7-10 years, go for it and send me an email and I'll come down and taste it with you.
reifer

#4 Ian Chadwick

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Posted 14 October 2003 - 05:50 PM

The point you miss is that in most countries, making distilled spirits is a different issue than making beer or wine. While you can often do the latter, most federal governments controls spirits quite closely and have severe penalties for making it without the appropriate licence and taxes.

Not to mention the real possibility of accident with a still. Very flammable stuff, distilled alcohol. Would you want one bubbling in your garage while you're at work?

But nonetheless, it still stands that nothing anyone can make at home could come remotely close to the output of the traditional companies. It would be to tequila what homemade beer is to, say, Samuel Adams, Beck or Sleemans. Or homemade wine to a Bordeaux. This from a home wine and beer maker, by the way.

Spend time in the fabricas, learn the trade, learn how to cut and clean piñas, when to stir the wort, the types of yeast and how to tell if an agave is ripe or which part of the distillation is good and which should be discarded, what casks to age it in and when it's ready without becoming too woody - then try making it on your own. It's not some DIY skill you can pick up from a magazine, like making a mailbox from old dresser wood.

And as for RSA agave - it's agave spirits they're making, not tequila. Legislation and legality aside, they haven't the traditions or expertise to make tequila and won't for quite some time and experiment. But they will never be able to call it tequila.

Tequila isn't just a drink. It's the icon of a culture.

#5 SILVER

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 07:16 AM

"Tequila isn't just a drink. It's the icon of a culture. "

Trully, and seldom does it get the respect it deservers.

#6 Guest_Matt_Guest

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 04:53 PM

Hey Nathan are you still reading this thread?

While it's true that it's a long way to go from planting a blue agave to a finished fine tequila (forget the distilling part, what about waiting all those years for the plants to mature?), you shouldn't let that stop you from experimenting in home distilling. I think you're visiting the wrong place to ask about it though; unfortunately, your reception here seems much like Martin Luther's would have been if he had walked into the Vatican and said "hey guys, I want to start a new church!"

Check these sites for some great info on getting started. In particular, people have had good experiences fermenting and distilling blue agave nectar into, if not technically "tequila," then very respectable "blue agave mezcal." Even agave nectar is getting hard to obtain these days but things may vary in Argentina. Buena suerte and illegetimi non carborundum! ;)

http://homedistiller.org
http://www.amphora-society.com
http://groups.yahoo..../new_distillers
http://groups.yahoo....roup/Distillers

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#7 robertnivison

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 08:47 PM

Hello from down under.

I am from a family with a tradition of successfully transplating industries from one country to another. An ancestor of mine was the first to bring grapevines to Australia and Wine hassince become one of our most successful agricultural export industries. We also produce some very fine rum.

We have huge problems here with many types of crops as irrigation is causing problems including dry land salinity and river pollution.

I think that our climate could be very well suited to large scale production. We have seen a boom here in succulent production for gardening and enjoyment. I don't see why we couldn't do the same for Spirit production.

I fully understand the time involved and the experience needed to produce the finest of alcohols - Tequila. We in no way wish to take away from the skills and art that these producers have developed over millenia. I am sure that no-one here would wish to trample on the heritage of Tequila. We love it here too. But we all know Tequila comes from Mexico.

But I think though that this is a crop that is crying out for development in other countries and there are people willing to put the love and effrot into producing a fine product even the Mexicans would be happy to share with us. Even proud to be involved in producing a new product with a different name.

Do you think that this a possibility?

I apologise that I do not speak Spanish or Mexican.

I have been discussing the possibility of starting an Australian Blue Agave Spirit and was wondering if anyone could give me a bit of a information on the aquiring seed or stock to start a plantation. If anyone has had success starting from seed. This is important for our quarantine laws.

Also I was hoping to find out a bit more about climate details of a few of the regions that Tequila is grown? How the crop reacts tobelow freezing temperatures, frosts or temperatures over 40C?

Any help at this early stage would be appreciated.

Robert Nivison

#8 reifer

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 07:35 PM

Interesting.
I am not sure what I think but, it is up to you to try if you wish. I won't get into the whole "Tequila" is proprietary deal since you'll get more then you want of that from this site. Clearly alcohol is produced world wide and there is no reason why it couldn't be produced in Australia out of agave or corn, wheat or sugarcane. The climate issue should not be that big a deal. Agave is grown in a wide range of geology and climatology in Mexico from the seashore at sea level to the mountains--incredible rain fall to more arid. Don't know what would happen if it froze but, suspect it would be fine.
I am somewhat overwhelmed with the signifcant effort that would be necessary but, if you want good information you might want to contact the owner or Porfidio Tequila who is involved in an agave beverage project in S. Africa. He currently lives in Panama. His contact info is below:

martin.grassl@tequilaporfidio.com

home page http://www.tequilaporfidio.com

Good luck, I guess.

BTW, where are you in Australia? It's a beautiful country with wonderful people. I have been there many times. I have had the pleasure of spending time in some of your wine country and it is doing very well, indeed!

#9 Guest_luke_Guest

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 01:19 AM

whats ur problem bringing someone down about the idea of making tequila? u can *beeping* grow it in a greenhouse anywhere and the idea that the tequila will taste bad is just crazy. so u think people in mexico that make tequila with none of the "eqiptment" will taste bad, well or your information i went down to mexico and the tequila tasted way better than anything u can buy here



You can't make "tequila" because it's an appellation controllee - the name is reserved and protected by international law. Mezcal also has that designation. They can only be made with that name in specific regions of Mexico by approved producers.

The best you can make is agave moonshine. It's the same as making hootch and calling it "scotch" or "cognac."

Most countries control the production of distilled spirits very jealously. It's a federal issue in the USA and involves a very aggressive IRS and FBI when someone tries make moonshine. Very serious charges for anyone making unlicensed spirits in Canada or the USA.

And... it's difficult to impossible to get blue agave, let alone find the appropriate conditions in which to grow it. The plant is in serious shortage, grown mostly from shoots and hoarded by the farmers and producers. Most countries strictly control importation of plants and vegetables and you may not be able to get any into your country (you CANNOT import plants into Canada or the USA without appropriate approvals and permits).

Finally ... what do you think you could possibly do in your basement to make something that even vaguely came close to the quality of a tequila made by a company with all the right equipment and 100 years' experience? Make it simple: buy it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



#10 Ian Chadwick

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 06:30 AM

whats ur problem bringing someone down about the idea of making tequila? u can *beeping* grow it in a greenhouse anywhere and the idea that the tequila will taste bad is just crazy. so u think people in mexico that make tequila with none of the "eqiptment" will taste bad, well or your information i went down to mexico and the tequila tasted way better than anything u can buy here

I love it when illiterates go online. Does anyone really think his or her messages have credibility when they misspell even basic, simple words? "Ur" was a city in ancient Mesopotamia. The Babylonians and their allies did not have agave, let alone distillation. Why is this person even questioning Ur's problem with distilled spirits when they didn't have any?

Furthermore, how can anyone give serious consideration to a poster who can't operate the shift key? Not to mention the obvious: that this poster didn't read (much less consider) the message he or she quoted; just responded to the "hot button" items. Pavlovian, for sure.

To clarify for newcomers who have not yet read the information about tequila distillation on my site:

The first distillation takes 11/2-2 hours. It is called the ordinario and is about 20% alcohol. The second distillation takes 3-4 hours. It has about 55% alcohol. It has three components: the cabeza, or head, has more alcohol and unwanted aldehydes, so it is discarded. The middle section is the El corazon, the heart, which is the best part and saved for production. The end is the colos, or tails, which is sometimes recycled into the next distillation to make it more robust, or may also be discarded. The residue, or dregs (vinazas) is discarded. Most mezcal is only distilled once, although some premium brands now offer double distillation.

The masters of the distillation process have learned over the last 200+ years to discard some of the distillate else they end up with a bitter-tasting tequila. Tequila is made under exacting conditions in modern fabricas, under constant scrutiny by government agencies. It's big business, not some brew-in-your-garage operation. I'm sure these producers have just a teensy bit more wisdom about this subject than, say, a school-age poster who can't spell "equipment."

Tequila is a brand name. You can't make a car and call it a Ford. You can't make a motorcycle and call it a Harley Davidson. You can't make a red wine and call it a Burgundy (unless, of course, that's where you made it...). You can't make an agave spirit outside Mexico and call it tequila. Even in Mexico you can't do it except within a small range of geography. That's why agave spirits outside those areas have different names: mezcal, for example.

Tequila is not simply the name of a drink, like "tea" or "coffee" or "beer." It is a brand name specific to a product made in an internationally-recognized area, under specific and legal conditions. Period.

Yes, you can make agave spirits anywhere you want. No one questions this. You only need to be aware of the legal issues in your own country where distillation may be controlled by federal or provincial/state legislation. Without the knowledge of how to distill or the nature of the agave and its chemicals, you probably won't make anything worth drinking, but go ahead. Just don't call it "tequila" because it will not be that product.

And I'd love to see someone try to grow these agave in a greenhouse... grow, prune and harvest them indoors to make enough product for distillation. That would be a pretty large greenhouse, and very tight conditions.

#11 Mossy

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 03:08 PM

Very interesting discussion, and I love the passion that accompanies both arguments.

I have no doubt that making a good tequila is quite difficult. However, I would suspect that modern technology might give a homebrewer an outside shot at making something quite drinkable, provided the raw materials are up to snuff.

As for homebrewed beer, I've had several that were just as good as the mass produced stuff, if not better. Of course, theres no distillation involved, so its not quite as complicated.

As for terminology, I guess Im not that much of a stickler. I'll use the generic "champagne" to describe any sparkling wine, even CA varieties. Though technically incorrect, I find "sparking wine" a bit of an affectation.

I have tremendous respect for tequila's Mexican roots and tradition -- but maybe Americans are a little more open to taking other countries' traditions and adopting them (for better or worse)?

Just a thought...

#12 Ian Chadwick

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 05:01 PM

I'll use the generic "champagne" to describe any sparkling wine, even CA varieties. Though technically incorrect, I find "sparking wine" a bit of an affectation.

So you you see a Volkswagon, you call it a Ford because Bug is an affectation? Or you see a Honda sportbike and call it a Harley because Fireblade seems too affected? Hmmmm.... Would you call a NY striploin a burger? Or a quiche a pizza?

I have tremendous respect for tequila's Mexican roots and tradition -- but maybe Americans are a little more open to taking other countries' traditions and adopting them (for better or worse)?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Adopting is fine. That's what resulted in "agave spirits," some of which may be as good if not better than some tequilas. Creativity, competition and drive can create a better product or service.

But there's a thin line over which it becomes piracy. Stealing tequila's name is no less a crime than Taiwanese pirates ripping off software and movies and selling them on eBay. Or someone copying your entire website and pasting it on another site under their name (happened to me a few times). Napster "adopted" other people's songs. So does Kazaa. Someone "adopted" my neighbour's car a few years back...

#13 Mossy

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Posted 07 April 2005 - 05:32 PM

[
So you you see a Volkswagon, you call it a Ford because Bug is an affectation? Or you see a Honda sportbike and call it a Harley because Fireblade seems too affected? Hmmmm....  Would you call a NY striploin a burger? Or a quiche a pizza?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Certainly not. It probably goes back to when I was a kid and any kind of soda would be "a coke" regardless of brand or flavor. As long as it was fizzy and sugary, it was a coke. Curads were "bandaids".. Any facial tissue was "a kleenex"

The whole "if it walks, talks, sounds like a duck" line of thinking.

#14 Ian Chadwick

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 06:24 AM

Very interesting discussion, and I love the passion that accompanies both arguments.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You might notice I get very passionate about English, more so than I do in the argument over trademarks. I can't abide by slovenly abuse of the language, especially the online degradation of even the simplest rules of communication. I have little patience for anyone too lazy to use the shift key, and absolutely no respect for those who can't make the effort to write out short words like you and you're.

Writing well means communicating effectively. Sloppy, clumsy, misspelled posts simply discredit the writer and any argument he or she is trying to make.

As a tool, language can be used as a scalpel or a chainsaw. While both can make a cut, the results are quite different - especially when the wielder is a surgeon...

#15 JBWagoner

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 11:55 AM

At the risk of upsetting the Administrator of this forum, I humbly disagree on several fronts. I have been growing blue agaves for a number of years now and have several thousand plants under cultivation. Even though there is a long history of agave cultivation "south of the border", agave's are indigenous to The Americas and have grown here long before the borders were created. There is a booming Sisal trade in Kenya where they grow non-indigenous agaves for the fiber industry. The Blue Agave (Agave Tequilana Weber Azul) has been cloned and grown by the millions in Mexico to the point that the it's true natural range is no longer known.

As for making distilled spirits, it's not rocket science -- it's organic chemistry. Sure, there is a long and illustrious history to making tequila and its culture, but fermenting and distilling is a learned, not genetic, behavior. "Culture" and time-in-the-industry contributes nothing to the taste or quality of the finished product. In fact, the whole process of distillation was imported here in the first place and to this day, industrial fabrication of tequila is in a continual process of modernization.

As for trademarks, the attorneys at the US Trademark Office denied the CRT trademark protection for the term "tequila" in October of 2004. The reasons for this are public record and can be found on the Patent and Trademark offices web site.

I find it funny that one of the foremost purveyors of information on tequila would find it unrealistic that anyone outside of Mexico could get enough information to do it themselves. Are you insinuating that it is impossible to create a quality agave spirit outside of Mexico? Are you saying that "quality" is simply a matter of geography? We both know that there are good and bad tequilas emanating from Mexico and soon there will be "agave spirits" from other places to compare -- just like the wine industry in France, The USA, Chile, Austrailia, etc.

Other people are following my lead in southern California and growing agaves. NAFTA has and is effecting the profitability of growing many crops (avocados, citrus, flowers, etc) in my area. I started growing agaves as an alternative to the water-hungry avocados & citrus groves and am now importing additional agaves to meet the demand for my 100% Blue Agave Spirit. In order to help the local market grow, I am selling 2 year old/12" agaves for $8 each in quantity and will buy-back mature plants at a premium over market rates.

I agree with you that we can't make "Tequila" here, but just the other day, I had one of the best burritos I've ever had -- and I wasn't even in Mexico!

#16 jiboo

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 12:36 PM

Regarding JB Wagoner's product, wonderful information,great argument for a new kind of quality spirit,a good,straightforward philosophy and what looks like a well crafted product.Looking forward to tasting it and seeing for myself.
Also, nice simple bottle design.good luck,Wagoner

#17 Ian Chadwick

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 07:11 PM

You either didn't read the original post or you're deliberately misrepresenting what I said.

As for making distilled spirits, it's not rocket science -- it's organic chemistry.

Never said it wasn't. I only said that tequila producers spent the last 200 years figuring out the best techniques to arrive at the end result. If you think you can figure it out in an afternoon tinkering in your garage, be my guest. You can distill your socks, if you want. But there's a difference between a good spirit and any old spirit.

I make my own beer and wine, but I don't have the arrogance to pass off either as more than mere plonk. I have the knowledge, skill and talent to build a fence or a deck, rather well actually. Doesn't mean I can build a house or craft a Louis XV bureau in my basement. Knowing the mechanics or chemistry of distillation doesn't have anything to do with making a quality product.

And I also pointed out distillation is usually under federal jurisdiction and may require either special permits or fees. You cannot legally at home do it in most Western countries.

As for trademarks, the attorneys at the US Trademark Office denied the CRT trademark protection for the term "tequila" in October of 2004. The reasons for this are public record and can be found on the Patent and Trademark offices web site.

That same office has refused many requests to use the name tequila on non-Mexican products... "We have also taken into consideration the fact that term "tequila" may only be used for a product which originates in Mexico..." from US Trademark office. What document are you referring to? The Trademark Office has denied several requests to use the word "tequila" on American-made or imported products in the past decade.

The CRT has managed to strike down in US courts Temequila as a trademark name because of its similarity to "tequila."

There are clauses in NAFTA that protect tequila. You might check out the spat over Cutting off Bulk Tequila Exports. To quote from NAFTA itself:

Annex 313: Distinctive Products

1. Canada and Mexico shall recognize Bourbon Whiskey and Tennessee Whiskey, which is a straight Bourbon Whiskey authorized to be produced only in the State of Tennessee, as distinctive products of the United States. Accordingly, Canada and Mexico shall not permit the sale of any product as Bourbon Whiskey or Tennessee Whiskey, unless it has been manufactured in the United States in accordance with the laws and regulations of the United States governing the manufacture of Bourbon Whiskey and Tennessee Whiskey.

2. Mexico and the United States shall recognize Canadian Whisky as a distinctive product of Canada. Accordingly, Mexico and the United States shall not permit the sale of any product as Canadian Whisky, unless it has been manufactured in Canada in accordance with the laws and regulations of Canada governing the manufacture of Canadian Whisky for consumption in Canada.

3. Canada and the United States shall recognize Tequila and Mezcal as distinctive products of Mexico. Accordingly, Canada and the United States shall not permit the sale of any product as Tequila or Mezcal, unless it has been manufactured in Mexico in accordance with the laws and regulations of Mexico governing the manufacture of Tequila and Mezcal. This provision shall apply to Mezcal, either on the date of entry into force of this Agreement, or 90 days after the date when the official standard for this product is made obligatory by the Government of Mexico, whichever is later.

So it's pretty clear tequila is protected by international agreement and binding international law (despite the US tendency to ignore NAFTA, GATT and WTO rulings it doesn't like...).

And tequila may itself become part of the UNESCO World Heritage "Now, the World Heritage Department of the National Anthology and Historical Institute (INAH) has formally proposed that the agave landscapes and old industrial haciendas of the Tequila region, in the state of Jalisco, be included on the UNESCO list."

I find it funny that one of the foremost purveyors of information on tequila would find it unrealistic that anyone outside of Mexico could get enough information to do it themselves.

Again, I never said that either. I merely said that whatever they made, they couldn't call it "tequila," but would have to come up with another name. In fact, here's EXACTLY what I wrote: "Tequila is not simply the name of a drink, like "tea" or "coffee" or "beer." It is a brand name specific to a product made in an internationally-recognized area, under specific and legal conditions. Period.

Yes, you can make agave spirits anywhere you want. No one questions this. You only need to be aware of the legal issues in your own country where distillation may be controlled by federal or provincial/state legislation. Without the knowledge of how to distill or the nature of the agave and its chemicals, you probably won't make anything worth drinking, but go ahead. Just don't call it "tequila" because it will not be that product.
"

Are you insinuating that it is impossible to create a quality agave spirit outside of Mexico? Are you saying that "quality" is simply a matter of geography?

No, you are inferring that from an improper reading of my posts. What I said EXACTLY was, "Adopting is fine. That's what resulted in "agave spirits," some of which may be as good if not better than some tequilas. Creativity, competition and drive can create a better product or service."

I agree with you that we can't make "Tequila" here, but just the other day, I had one of the best burritos I've ever had -- and I wasn't even in Mexico!

Irrelevant. I saw a Volkswagon on the street and I wasn't in Germany. I had a sip of mezcal and I wasn't in Oaxaca. So what? Hell, I saw pictures of Titan and I wasn't in orbit around Saturn.

You CAN make agave spirits anywhere, assuming you have a legal way to do so. No one says you can't. Distillation is as much an art as a science and without both, you'll end up with a crappy, inferior product. Sufficient money will hire the experience and talent needed to make a good product. It's too bad some Mexican distillers didn't spend as much money on the spirit as they do on bottle design.

Just like California wines, or Ontario wines, or Chilean wines are often as good as - or better than - Old World wines from which their stock originated, agave spirits made outside Mexico may be as good or better than Mexican spirits. I've always said that. But you can't call them tequila and more than you can call a Maipo Valley wine a burgundy, or call a whiskey made in Ontario a Tennessee Bourbon.

#18 Vange

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 08:36 PM

deleted by me

#19 JBWagoner

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 09:09 PM

Briefly: There are no 200 year old distillers. It didn't/doesn't take 200 years to learn how to do high-quality distillation. The science/art of distillation exists outside of Mexico. Knowledge and experience are not bound by geography. Is it arrogant to insinuate just because your attempts at beer & wine are plonk, no one else could produce something better? I have spent years acquiring the proper permits (ATF, TTB, ABC, etc.), paying the required fees, touring distilleries, tasting other "blue agave spirits", experimenting with equipment and building my own to do what I'm doing. I did not develop this in my garage one afternoon. Temequila is still a registered trademark and the CRT has not stuck down our name in US Courts, although they have threatened legal action to stop our attempt at free trade. We do not call our product tequila, but being 100% blue agave, it is only natural they people would compare it to, and/or use short hand in refering to it as tequila. Check out our website and you will clearly notice we are not trying to say our product is a product of Mexico. In my completely unbiased opinion, JB Wagoner's Ultra Premium 100% Blue Agave Spirit is better than any other "agave spirit" I have ever tasted. I'll bet you a Temequila T-Shirt you'll feel the same once you try it...and of course you will try it because you love quality tequila. Most of the high-quality, small batch tequila does not even make it out of Mexico. And finally, in regards to my burrito comment, all the ingredients were (probably) domestically produced, yet I didn't have to call it a "tube sandwich made with flour flat bread". That would be silly.

ps. I like your website, even though I doubt you had anything to do with the development of the web and computer technology. How ever did you do it?

#20 marty_b_mccabe

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Posted 08 April 2005 - 11:14 PM

One of the most important things that I have learned in the wine business is that a growing region only truly excells when it figures out how to put its regional imprint on a wine, beer, or spirit. For instance, all whiskeys are spirits distilled from a mash of cereal(s). However, nobody ever mistakes Jack Daniels for Glenlivet. Instead of trying to imitate, why aren't more people trying to innovate?

#21 reifer

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 12:37 AM

but just the other day, I had one of the best burritos I've ever had -- and I wasn't even in Mexico!

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Not only is this "irrelevant", it is another incredible American characterization of what is truly "Mexican".
Burritos, are NOT Mexican, they might be "Tex Mex" or "Ameri-Mex" but, not "Mexican" You can sometimes get them in tourist areas of Mexico because in Mexico we aim to please, but, just like Fajitas, taco shells, etc. they have little to do with Mexican cuisine. Americans are so comfortable in their role in the bastardization of foreign products that they often seem to believe that theirs are more real then the "real" thing. It doesn't make these things "bad", by the way. I was raised in the insulated, protective cocoon of US ignorance too so, I like them but, I know that they're not Mexican.

#22 Rojo

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 04:58 AM

Hmmm…well, I love the U.S. and Americans.

Good luck JB. I wish you the best.

#23 SILVER

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 05:49 AM

However, nobody ever mistakes Jack Daniels for Glenlivet. 

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He,he. So true.

#24 Ian Chadwick

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 07:33 AM

Briefly: There are no 200 year old distillers.

Cuervo claims to be. From their web site: "1795: King Carlos IV of Spain transfers the land deed to José María Guadalupe Cuervo and grants him the first concession to commercially produce tequila. He immediately builds a distillery and begins producing tequila – the “wine of the earth.” That's 210 years ago if my math skills remain intact despite the intrusion of calculators.

It didn't/doesn't take 200 years to learn how to do high-quality distillation. The science/art of distillation exists outside of Mexico.

I didn't say that either. I said tequila distillers have learned their craft over 200 years. Distillation may exist outside Mexico, but until someone in Mexico began the experiment, distillation of the agave was not done anywhere - despite it being native to North America. The rules that apply to distilling grain are not exactly the same as those applying to agave.

And over the past 200 years they have learned what makes good and bad tequila. Maybe today that can be passed along in an afternoon (or summed up on a CD), but traditionally it was through lengthy apprenticeship, experimentation and slowly evolving technology. The metallurgy alone didn't really change until the mid -19th century. We have the benefit today of stainless steel and other alloys that simply didn't exist in the past.

Is it arrogant to insinuate just because your attempts at beer & wine are plonk, no one else could produce something better?

Again, a faulty inference. What my examples were saying is that simply being able to make the product is no guarantee of its quality. My wine may actually be better than some commercial wine, but I won't ever know that because I can't bring myself to buy those wines. :blink: However, I still couldn't sell my basement wine on the same shelf, no matter how good it was.

But I can say with absolute certainty that using the same equipment, practices and original ingredients used in commercial wineries, and having an experienced vintner guide my hand, I would have a better chance to make a good product than I would using off-the-shelf wine kits and making it in my basement. Someone may be able to take the same ingredients I use now and make a slightly better wine in their basement, but I doubt it will be significantly better. We're limited by the quality of the ingredients and the limits of our knowledge.

I have spent years acquiring the proper permits (ATF, TTB, ABC, etc.), paying the required fees, touring distilleries, tasting other "blue agave spirits", experimenting with equipment and building my own to do what I'm doing. I did not develop this in my garage one afternoon.

I think what you're doing is wonderful and I commend your entrepreneurial spirit. I also look forward to the influx of South African agave spirits. I hope to be able to sample all of these in the near future (assuming the producers can work their way through the Byzantine labyrinth of the LCBO's bureaucracy).

I think having competition is excellent and will give tequila manufacturers a real challenge. The result will probably be better products from them in the future - and the consumers will benefit. It's like wine - centres of production moved from Greece to Western Europe to South America, North American, Africa and Australia. No one says Greek wine is the only wine that must or can be made, but only a certain wine from Greece can be called "retsina."

However, the initial post in this thread came from someone who wanted to start making this on his home farm as a retirement project, and we've had similar posts from many others who DO want to make it in their garage or basement (I get such emails at least once weekly). Many people have no idea what goes into distillation - art or science - and assume they can go about it the same way they can buy a wine kit at Wal-Mart and do it at home. And then they want to call the result "tequila."

We do not call our product tequila, but being 100% blue agave, it is only natural they people would compare it to, and/or use short hand in refering to it as tequila.

And that has been the essence of my argument all along: not that agave spirits should not or cannot be produced outside Mexico, but merely that the name must be different.

I'll bet you a Temequila T-Shirt you'll feel the same once you try it...and of course you will try it because you love quality tequila.

And I will - as soon as you can be Jason and overcome the Minotaur of the LCBO... world's largest alcohol-buying agency and as friendly and cheerful to woo as Medusa... I look forward to wearing your T-shirt in Mexico next visit, however. Size large, please... ;-)

Most of the high-quality, small batch tequila does not even make it out of Mexico.

Not sure that's true any more. Might have been, years ago, but the growing market for premium tequilas has really pushed a lot of companies to the more lucrative export market. Frankly, good tequila is becoming too expensive for most Mexicans, so the companies look north for their sales. I've never actually met a Mexican who paid $100 USD or more for tequila, outside some bar owners who then sell it for $12-$25 a shot.

And finally, in regards to my burrito comment, all the ingredients were (probably) domestically produced, yet I didn't have to call it a "tube sandwich made with flour flat bread". That would be silly.

Not really. Burrito isn't a trade name, merely a descriptive name. Like tea, coffee, pop, sandwich, burger - you'd look silly if you call a tissue a thin square of facially-sensitive soft paper, but you wouldn't look silly calling a Kleenex brand sheet a tissue. You can call it a photostatic reproduction - or a photocopy - but unless it was produced on a Xerox machine, it ain't a "xerox."

You'd look silly if you called herbal "tea" a herbal infusion (which it technically is because tea is really a plant), but it's in common use and impossible to correct. I, of course, call it an infusion in order to be the pedant and explain the reason to anyone curious enough to ask what I mean... but sic friat crustulum.

ps. I like your website, even though I doubt you had anything to do with the development of the web and computer technology. How ever did you do it?

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You mistake the medium for the message. I didn't develop the process of making paper, but I am a writer and editor and have a book published. I didn't invent television or radio, but I've had shows on both. As a distiller, you probably didn't have a lot to do with the development of metal welding, yeast genetics or the agriculture of agaves. But you. like I, benefitted from all of the science, technology and art that went before us. I may never write like Robert Graves or Carlos Fuente, but their craft is the beacon that lights my way.

As for developing computer technology - no, I didn't have a hand in it, but I've had computers continuously since 1977; I ran my own BBS and I was a Sysop on CompuServe and Delphi. So I have had a few years' experience in front of the monitor to hone my skills. Too many -as my wife frequently reminds me when I'm needed to do work elsewhere around the house.

#25 SILVER

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 11:53 AM

See? The man just doesn't get emotional about any topic except one. I wont mention her here now. ;)

#26 Guest_Guest_Guest

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 04:33 PM

One of the most important things that I have learned in the wine business is that a growing region only truly excells when it figures out how to put its regional imprint on a wine, beer, or spirit.  For instance, all whiskeys are spirits distilled from a mash of cereal(s).  However, nobody ever mistakes Jack Daniels for Glenlivet.  Instead of trying to imitate, why aren't more people trying to innovate?

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Jack Daniels and Glenlivet are both whiskeys...neither one is refered to as "cereal spirits". Did Jack Daniel's "steal" something when he made domestic whisky? I think not.

#27 Ian Chadwick

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Posted 09 April 2005 - 05:13 PM

Jack Daniels and Glenlivet are both whiskeys...neither one is refered to as "cereal spirits". Did Jack Daniel's "steal" something when he made domestic whisky? I think not.

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Daniel lived in the days before appellation controllee, international laws, copyright and trademarks, lawsuits, WTO, NAFTA, GATT and all the rest of the bureaucracy and litigation. He couldn't get away with it quite as easily these days, although he could still call it "whiskey" as long as he obeyed some basic rules.

Whiskey/whisky has been the generic name of a distilled spirit for centuries, its use dates to times before lawyers waded in. The name is actually spelled differently, depending on where it is produced: whisky for Scotland and Canada, whiskey for Ireland and America. The products are also different and use different grains to create unique and distinct flavours (see Whisky notes.

The name 'whisky' has origins in the Gaelic (a Celtic branch) dialect that was spoken in the Highlands of Scotland. In our English language the word is derived from the Gaelic word(s) 'uisge beatha' or 'usquebaugh' which means "water of life" (I personally can't think of a better origin for the word). Note: Whisky is also spelled Whiskey depending on the country from which you are drinking.

From Bacon Magazine

Whiskey/whisky is defined as having four countries of origin, but nowadays many other countries make it as well (Japan and Australia both make good products called whisky/whiskey, modelled on one of the types represented by the four national origins). However, they still have to obey certain basic rules of production to be able to use the word "whisky" or "whiskey" on their label and in advertising.

American whiskey is also called "bourbon" which derives from Bourbon County in Kentucky (see Straight Bourbon. The BBC can tell you about the original Jack Daniel and his distillery.

The point is that although whisky was a name in common use and was applied to various spirits in the past, that doesn't mean the name is not protected under law these days. Read the Court of Justice 1998 decision in favour of "The Scotch Whisky Association - a Scottish company set up to protect and promote the interests of the Scotch whisky trade."

There are also a lot of articles and cases about protection given to the name whisky here: TED on Scotch and the UK Patent Office. There's even a Scotch Whisky Association that protects the legal use of the name whisky. Look it up online - you'll see that although the name is more widespread than tequila, the name whisky is still treated as cultural and intellectual property.

#28 JBWagoner

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 11:00 AM

but just the other day, I had one of the best burritos I've ever had -- and I wasn't even in Mexico!

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Not only is this "irrelevant", it is another incredible American characterization of what is truly "Mexican".
Burritos, are NOT Mexican, they might be "Tex Mex" or "Ameri-Mex" but, not "Mexican" You can sometimes get them in tourist areas of Mexico because in Mexico we aim to please, but, just like Fajitas, taco shells, etc. they have little to do with Mexican cuisine. Americans are so comfortable in their role in the bastardization of foreign products that they often seem to believe that theirs are more real then the "real" thing. It doesn't make these things "bad", by the way. I was raised in the insulated, protective cocoon of US ignorance too so, I like them but, I know that they're not Mexican.

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I don't think you've been to southern California lately. Many people here ARE from Mexico and the cross border flow is enormous.

#29 reifer

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 07:54 PM

I don't think you've been to southern California lately. Many people here ARE from Mexico and the cross border flow is enormous.

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Not sure you get the point?
It doesn't matter how many Mexican's live in the US. Obviously I know that there are many. That doesn't change anything. My point is that Burritos are not really Mexican food, period. They are probably TexMex. It doesn't matter if Mexicans in the US eat them, Burritos originated in the US not Mexico.

#30 JBWagoner

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 03:17 AM

Cuervo claims to be. From their web site: "1795: King Carlos IV of Spain transfers the land deed to José María Guadalupe Cuervo and grants him the first concession to commercially produce tequila. He immediately builds a distillery and begins producing tequila – the “wine of the earth.” That's 210 years ago if my math skills remain intact despite the intrusion of calculators.


What I meant was there are no individuals who have been distilling for 200 years. Everybody has learned the art/science of distillation from someone else. And as was pointed out elsewhere, things like calculators, plastic, stainless steel, electric motors & pumps, yeast science and many other inventions and technologies are all relatively recent and without which, modern tequila would not exist.

And finally...Cuervo Gold MUST be the best tequila ever made because it comes the company with the most experience. It's the biggest selling tequila, by far, and is loaded with *authentic* Mexican culture. Consistent quality...just like McDonalds.

:lmao:

With regard to my burrito comment, replace the word burrito with taco, if you'd like. IMHO, these Appellations of Origins have run amok and are only in place to preserve the jobs of people who maintain Appellations of Origins . It's simply a game of international tit-for-tat name grabbing without any real benefit for consumers. What does it really matter if I call something California Champagne, Japanese Whisky/Whiskey, or Chilean Apple Pie? B.F.D.!