Aging Tequila

04. Abocantes

06

What are Tequila Additives?

Just like in food, flavorings and colorings are frequently added to tequila to create uniformity in flavor and color between batches. As science has developed, these additives (officially known as abocantes”, or mellowing agents) have become extremely concentrated, and just a few drops can wildly alter the final product. In tequila, they seem to frequently be used to mimic the effects of aging, or to compensate for the lack of complexity that may result from the use of time-saving or cost-saving measures in the production process. Additives can make a tequila taste sweeter, feel richer, look darker, and smell like just about any aroma under the sun.

Although additives are legally permitted in the production of tequila (up to 1% by volume in a finished product), they are rarely talked about in the industry and never appear on the label of a bottle, since the laws do not require tequila producers to disclose the use of additives in their products.

Discerning Additives

So, if a tequila producer is not legally required to disclose the use of additives in their product, how can one tell if a tequila contains additives? The answer is, if you know what you’re looking for, you can taste it! Clayton Szczech, of Experience Agave, says, If you taste many different tequilas from many different producers, you sort of develop a facility of what the natural range of aromas and flavors are. When you taste something that is completely outside of that, that’s sort of a red flag for me.”

what is abocado?

Abocantes are mellowing” agents — like caramel, glycerin, wood tincture, etc. — that are legal additives to mimic the effect of aging. Because they’re legally allowed, they are not referred to as additives’’. In fact, there is no additive labeling requirement whatsoever, so you can’t know for certain if a product contains them at a glance, but you can make an educated guess. Joven abocado” tequila is basically just a code word for gold”, which many tequila producers make, they just don’t have to label or report it as such. Aboncantes are allowed to be added to all tequilas except for Blancos, where it is prohibited. Remember: Patrón uses no mellowing agents!

Legally Permitted Additives:

Jarabe (sugar-based syrup)

Producers can use jarabe made from agave nectar, corn syrup, cane sugar, aspartame, sucralose (Splenda), or stevia as a highly concentrated sweetening agent for tequila. Additive makers are able to replicate aromas and flavors in very sophisticated ways.

Glycerin

While glycerin is a natural byproduct of fermentation and distillation, additional glycerin can be added in order to create a more rounded mouth feel. Commercially available glycerin is very thick it can make a tequila that is thin” or watery feel fuller and thicker in your mouth.

Oak Extract

This adds aromas and flavors found in an oak barrel to the finished product. When using oak extracts, it’s possible to make a tequila smell or taste as though it is aged longer than it actually was.

Caramel Color

Used primarily for the purposes of adding color to the finished product. Caramel coloring is extremely concentrated and a few drops can make a blanco look like an añejo. Joven abocado,” is the regulatory term that describes what is commonly know as gold” tequila.

photo credit: Caitlin Cunningham

Remember: Patrón Tequila has always been additive-free because of our unwavering commitment to craft, authenticity, and integrity.