NOM 199 Will Bring the Tequila & Mezcal Apocalypse

[This editorial (with my comments) is inspired by the following video on the dastardly NOM 199 currently in review in Mexico.  Please, take a few moments to view this easy-to-follow video, then, feel free to share it among your friends, family, colleagues and cohorts.

Afterwards, go here to sign the petition and unifying statement against NOM 199.]

¿Qué es la NOM199? / What is NOM199 from pedro jimenez gurria on Vimeo.

First, a Little History

In 2012, a Mexican legislation called NOM 186 was launched that would regulate any agave spirit.  It would have deprived many rights to small traditional and artisanal mezcal producers outside the Denomination of Origin of Tequila and Mezcal.

All other agave spirits would have been erroneously called “AGUA ARDIENTE de AGAVECEA.”

It would have also trademarked the word “AGAVE” to the Tequila Industry.

This would be like trying to trademark the word “grape.”

Imagine small winemakers not being able to say that their wine was made from grapes because they didn’t own the trademark, “grape?”

Dumb, huh?

Both these measures were driven by the Tequila Industry and the Mexican Ministry of Economy, among other institutions.

Through the efforts of those in the academic fields, hospitality (bars and restaurants), interested WORLD citizens with large social media followings, and those concerned about the fair regulation of what we eat and drink, this NOM was soundly defeated.

NOM 199: The Zombie of NOM 186!

Now, there’s a new initiative that’s designed to revive those previously rejected proposals.

It has been signed and endorsed by the Tequila Industry, the Regulatory Board of Mezcal, and other transnational corporations—and you know who they are!

This time, they aim to misinform you the consumer, about what you are drinking by renaming agave spirits outside of the Denomination of Origins of Tequila and Mezcal as “KOMIL.”

Ever hear of the term komil?

Me, neither.

Nobody has.

There are no cultural records or documents anywhere in Mexico that refer to an agave distillate by the term komil—


It is based on a Nahuatl word (KOMILI) meaning, “intoxicant [inebriating] drink.”

If one of NOM 199’s very own passages is correct:

“The information printed on the labels of the bottles must be truthful and not induce confusion in the consumer as to the nature and characteristics of the product,” then…

They’re doing it all wrong.

If these distillates are forced to be labeled KOMIL and forbidden to use the word AGAVE, it will be more ambiguous and confusing to the consumer and he/she won’t be as informed as to what the drink is made from.

Komil could literally be eggnog like rompope, a tequila or mixto tequila, or any drink that intoxicates.

Currently, any mezcal outside of the Denomination of Origin cannot be termed Mezcal.  Instead it is referred to as “destilado de agave” (agave distillate) or “aguardiente de agave” (agave firewater).

That is already a huge commercial disadvantage.

If this legislation passes and becomes law, these spirits would be forced to label themselves as KOMILES [plural of KOMIL].

This would not only increase unfair competition and confuse the consumer, but would also deprive the basic human rights of those who preserve the tradition of making these distillates by calling them by their actual true name.

This proposed legislation is a cultural and labor dispossession, and an arbitrarily imposed term.

It is designed to wipe out or erase the cultural, historical and familial stories inherent in each beautiful and distinctive agave spirit.

 Consider it a form of genocide.

fb 199Imagine not ever being able to tell the story behind your grandmother’s favorite recipe for cookies or apple pie even though it’s been in your family for generations?

We agree that all alcoholic beverages need some sort of regulation because there are those unscrupulous producers whose beverages deceive and defraud consumers and threaten their health.

This is precisely why we demand consistent, detailed, inclusive, normas (laws) with not only an economic basis in mind, but with academic and bio-cultural, as well.

The spirit that each of these small producers make are derived by distilling AGAVE.

There’s no reason to lie and call it KOMIL.

Let’s call it what it is.

Stay informed and protect what’s yours—The National Heritage. #sellamamezcal  #NoKomil

Women In The Tequila Industry: Cecilia Norman by M.A. “Mike” Morales

We continue our series of Women In The Tequila Industry with Cecilia Norman, Communication Manager for the Tequila Interchange Project, a non-profit organization and consumer advocacy group for tequila.

We asked Ceci and other prominent women leading the charge for change in the Tequila Industry and beyond a short list of questions.  As you’ll read, it hasn’t been all margaritas and roses for any of these tequila boss ladies.

TIP is comprised of bartenders, consultants, educators, academics, consumers and tequila enthusiasts. It advocates the preservation of sustainable, traditional, and quality practices in the tequila industry amid concerning trends currently becoming mainstays in the industry. Through their efforts and increased consumer education, they strive for continued growth in the tequila industry with a renewed emphasis on the importance of preserving tequila’s great heritage.


TA:  What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila Industry?

CN:  It’s like any male dominated industry, you face preconceived notions of what a woman’s role is in society or the industry.

Personally, I’ve never paid much attention to any of it.  If I want to do something I make it happen.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the spirits, film, tequila, robotics, rocket science or pink elephant hunting.  It all comes down to personal effort and the pursuit for good attainable goals.  If I spent any time thinking about other people standing in the way, I wouldn’t do anything.  Instead, I think of what’s best for everyone and myself, then put my mind to getting it done.

TA:  What facets of the Tequila Industry would you like to see change?

CN:  I want to see it become a diverse, fair industry that makes a lot of money for everyone involved and focuses on plant health, worker health, and becoming something that is sustainable for thousands of years. TA:  Do you approve of its brands current marketing strategies?

I believe in brands that market transparently and honestly… and silliness.  Give me all your data, processes, and let me decide if I want to drink your product.  If I don’t, let’s have a conversation about it.

TA:  How would you run things? What would you like to see change?

CN:  I would run things where everything grows.  Of course some brands will do better than others, some will remain local, and some will fail entirely… but developing business to look out for what’s best for everyone will help the industry.  There are too many nuances to keep just dollar signs the main focus.

Follow Cecilia Norman on Facebook and Twitter @cecinorman.
Follow the Tequila Interchange Project on Facebook, and Twitter @ThinkTequila.

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Tequila Drinkers Are Killing the Environment a Report by M.A. “Mike” Morales

paisaje agavero, tequila, environmental impact, pollution, vinazas 03.22.12

America’s premier tequila journalist and Tequila Aficionado’s Executive Editor Mike Morales, reveals rumored environmental polluters of Mexico’s Paisaje Agavero (Agave Landscape) in the controversial and hardhitting e-report, Vinazas:  The Corpse of the Spirit of Mexico.
“In 2008, the tequila industry produced 310 million liters of tequila,” reports Morales.  “For every liter of tequila distilled, 10 liters of vinazas (wastewater) is produced.  In 2008, over 2.5 billion liters of vinazas is unaccounted for.”

Vinazas:  The Corpse of the Spirit of Mexico defines that country’s next pandemic—The Vinazas Crisis—as the unconscionable pollution of rivers, streams, arroyos, and land along the Paisaje Agavero (the Agave Landscape) voted a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006.

“Close to 80 percent of the tequila produced in Mexico is exported into the United States,” explains Morales, “so the key is to make as many tequila consumers aware of the ecological dangers of mass produced tequila.”
Morales’ ambitious goal is to reach 40,000 individuals with Vinazas:  The Corpse of the Spirit of Mexico. 

“Tequila drinkers are killing the environment and they don’t even know it,” Morales continues.  In 2008, the tequila industry produced 310 million liters of tequila. For every liter of tequila distilled, 10 liters of vinazas (wastewater) is produced. In 2008, over 2.5 billion liters of vinazas is unaccounted for.
“It’s urgently important to educate ecologically minded spirits purchasers on these crimes.”

Moreover, this e-reportwill inform readers of the possible solutions to the Vinazas Crisis being used in the race to save the Paisaje Agavero.

“To have the stark beauty of the Highlands and the Lowlands of the Mexican state of Jalisco strangled by a toxic sludge that has reached crisis levels should frighten all of us,” stresses Morales, “from the casual margarita drinker, to the professional mixologist, to the diehard purist.”

Mike Moraleshopesthat the next time you reach for your favorite tequilaat your local liquor store or supermarket that you ask yourself two questions…
Is my brand eco-friendly?  And…
Am I directly contributing to the uncontrolled pollution of the Paisaje Agavero by supporting my brand’s total disregard for the environment?
“It is up to the socially conscious, ecologically minded, environmentally active tequila and/or spirits consumer to up level the catch phrase ‘drink responsibly,’”adds Morales.

“The time has come to not only drink responsibly, but to also think responsibly and act accordingly.”


To buy your copy of the e-report Vinazas:  The Corpse of the Spirit of Mexico for a mere $2.78, visit now!  For shocking photos of vinazas pollution, log onto our Facebook page at  More info on Mike Morales available at  For a passionate, in-depth interview on the Vinazas Crisis, call Mike NOW at 505-681-1422.  Hurry, slots are filling up fast!

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Vinazas: The Environmental Impact of the Growth of the Tequila Industry

Vinazas: The Environmental Impact of the Growth of the Tequila Industry
Vinazas: The Corpse of the Spirit of Mexico, by M.A. “Mike” Morales


Are tequila drinkers killing the environment?

There is most certainly a negative impact on one of Mexico’s most beautiful environments.

Not all tequila drinkers are contributing to this though.  In fact, by choosing your brands wisely, you will not only have a much better tasting experience, but you’ll be supporting ecologically responsible farming and distilling of this treasured spirit of Mexico.  Click here to read more.

See also:


Tequila Production is Ruining Nearby Land

In the Mexico town of Tequila, Jalisco, where the popular liquor is made, a little-known mess is being made of the land surrounding the distilleries.

For every liter of Tequila produced, ten liters of hot, liquid waste (called vinaza) and five to six kilograms of agave plant remnants (known as bagasse) are illegally disposed of.  Click here to read morein Hispanically Speaking News.

MEXICO: Tequila Leaves Environmental Hangover

MEXICO CITY, Aug 7 2009 (IPS) – Tequila, part of the national identity of Mexico, is invariably present at family celebrations and national holidays. But many are unaware of the bitter taste the tequila industry leaves in the water and soil.  Click here to read more at TerraAmerica.

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