Educational Resources | Mar. 18, 2021

Launch of The Agave Masters: Additives in Tequila

photo credit: Caitlin Cunningham

You’ve asked we’ve created.

The team of Education & Mixology of Patrón Tequila is happy to announce the launch of the first module of a new revolutionary and ground-breaking category education program — The Agave Masters.

The whole program aims to be unique and the best-in-class education, with unbiased and well-sourced information about tequila. It’s teachings will stretch beyond any current tequila curriculums available and will thoroughly cover agave spirit from the field to the bottle. Originally concepted as an in-person, multi-day event, we are building all modules so they could be presented both virtually, and live.

When complete, The Agave Masters will be a multi-day immersive educational experience, with multiple modules covering history of tequila, other Mexican distillates, agave farming, steps of production, wood science and sustainability of the agave industry. The program will allow for participants to engage deeply with the category of tequila.


Our first module is here and is dedicated to the usage of additives during tequila production. 

Have you ever wondered what actually goes into the most tequilas? Have you ever wished all the labels of the bottles were fully transparent? Do you know that there are, in fact, additives or, in another word, flavor correctors in many well-known tequila brands? 

To understand how to make a great tequila, think about how you would go about making a delicious meal. You’d want to use high-quality ingredients and a slow, deliberate process to develop deep, complex flavors, right? The same general concept applies to tequila, the production of which, when done right, is a very time- and labor-intensive process.

Just like with gadgets in the kitchen, technological advances in tequila production have provided shortcuts for producers to get to a finished product in less time, but in both cases, somehow the finished product may end up lacking in certain areas including, taste and flavor. In an effort to make up for the use of a faster cooking method that didn’t allow for complex flavors to develop naturally, a cook may end up reaching for more seasoning or a flavor packet to kick it up a notch.” In the same way, some tequila producers use highly efficient processes to cut down on production time, and then as a result, lean on the use of intensely concentrated additives to add flavor back in after the fact to correct the shortcuts they took during the production process.

Whether cooking or making tequila, nothing beats starting with high quality ingredients, treating them respect, and allowing for flavor to develop slowly and naturally.

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 have become extremely concentrated, and just a few drops can wildly alter the final product. In tequila, they seem to frequently be used to mask the lack of complexity that can derive 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.

Identifying additives can be a challenging and complicated procedure, but if you know what to look for, it can be an easy and eye-opening experience. We have partnered with top industry experts to create a two-part tasting session and provide a ground-breaking analysis that teaches to identify traces of potential abocado” (the official word for additives in tequila).

Clayton Szczech, of Experience Tequila, 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.”

We have created unique tasting kits that help accomplish these tasks. The kits consist of samples of tequila as well as real abocados used in Mexico for enhancing flavors in tequila. This interactive experience starts with tasting collaboration where Clayton guides attendees through proper analyses of agave spirits using a systematic approach to tasting. In the second part Pepe Guitrez, ambassador of Patron Tequila for Latin America and the Caribbean, leads the experiment of adding jarabe (sugar- based syrup), glycerin, oak extract and caramel coloring to tequila. This part is focused on understanding the laws and practices surrounding tequila additives. With the help of the analytical tasting system learned in the first half, attendees will be able to compare spirits with additives to spirits that are additive free, like Patron Tequila.

We are launching The Agave Masters: Additives In Tequila education in multiple cities across the United States and are partnering with USBG Chapters to provide education to their members. For more information reach out to Patron Education & Mixology team or to your USBG chapter leaders.

Author: Egor Polonskiy