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Because Tequila is the national drink of Mexico, it is heavily regulated by Mexican law to ensure the integrity of the beverage. Tequila can only be made from Weber Blue Agave grown and produced in the appellation of origin. In order to be called Tequila, the product must start with at least 51% Agave, with the balance of 49% being made of other sugars. If there is less than 100% Agave, it is designated as Mixto. This “inferior” product is less regulated, can have additives after the distillation process, and can be manipulated and bottled outside of the appellation of origin. Mixtos are generally less expensive and frequently made with only the minimum 51% Agave juice. The other sugars are the culprits that lead to hangovers. Mixtos are generally mass produced and used to make bulk margaritas, used as “rail” brands in bars and found on retail shelves at lower prices. They are frequently “rough,” hard to drink, and don’t have a good taste, which is why they are used as shots or mixed to mask the flavor. There are even some spirits that are made with less than 51% Agave. Although these spirits cannot be called Tequila, they are often used in bulk margaritas. Talk about a rough hangover!

The higher quality Tequila, 100% Agave is more heavily regulated. It can have no added sugars prior to distillation, no additives after distillation and must be produced and bottled within the appellation of origin. All of this happens under the watchful eye of the CRT (Tequila Regulatory Commission), a quasi-governmental agency that ensures adherence to the NOM (Norma Oficial Mexicana – the system for Mexican government standards). Super-Premium Tequilas that use 100% Agave command higher prices, but are much smoother, taste better and are of higher quality. These high-end Tequilas can be enjoyed in cocktails or sipped from a glass on their own as one would a fine Whisky or Cognac. In 2006, Super-Premium Tequila sales jumped more than 34%, surpassing all other spirits categories in growth including Single Malt Scotches, Bourbons and high-end Vodkas. 100% Agave Super-Premium Tequilas are now available in many restaurants and bars to meet the demand for finer quality Tequilas. Consumers and retailers alike are hosting tasting parties and dinners to compare and enjoy the different varieties and styles.