What do Casamigos, Avión, and Clase Azul tequilas all have in common? All are made in the same distillery, located in a town called Jesús María in the Los Altos region of Jalisco, Mexico. This, and other interesting information about tequila brands, can be determined simply by looking at the 4-digit number on every bottle of tequila, called the “NOM.”
In the above example, all 3 tequilas mentioned share the same NOM number: 1416. This number was assigned to the producer by the Mexican government and can be used to identify the distillery where it was made*. (There are currently 32 brands registered as being made by the owners of this distillery.)
So, what does it mean when tequilas have the same NOM? Are tequilas made at a shared distillery better or worse than tequilas made at a distillery dedicated to a single brand? Not necessarily, but Patrón Tequila, which is the only brand made at NOM 1492, thinks it is an important enough distinction (and competitive advantage) to warrant a new “Know Your NOM” area of their website.
Patrón now invites website visitors to type in the name or NOM numbers of their favorite tequilas to see all of the other tequilas made in the same distillery. This new NOM search functionality is powered by the Tequila Matchmaker app database (a mobile app that we created and maintain.) We get our raw information on NOMs from the official tequila regulatory body, called the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT). They maintain a list of tequilas that are in active production.
One thing is for sure, producing only 1 brand of tequila puts Patrón on a small and exclusive list. Only 6% of the active distilleries in Mexico are dedicated to a single brand.
To the best of our knowledge, there are only 8 distilleries (out of 139**) that are dedicated to producing a single brand.
There are 18 additional distilleries currently producing only a single brand, but are not included in the “known to be dedicated” list because they have either historically produced tequilas for multiple brands, or there is some indication that they are in the business of creating tequila for others.
Should you be avoiding brands that are not on this list? Well, since 97.8% of tequilas being made today are coming from distilleries that produce multiple brands, the answer is no. Odds are that many of your favorite tequilas are not the only tequilas made by that distillery.
Tequilas made at the same distillery can be different from each other in sometimes subtle, and sometimes dramatic ways. There are so many variables involved with the production of tequila that a change in any one of the ingredients, techniques, or even time of year can change the final product.
One example of a brand that provides a unique flavor profile even though it is made at a shared distillery is Gran Dovejo, which is made at a distillery run by the Vivanco family (NOM 1414.) Gran Dovejo has their own Master Distiller, Leopoldo Solis Tinoco, who is there every step of the way to ensure that the final product meets the flavor profile they are looking for. In doing so, we find that Gran Dovejo is different than the other products made in the same distillery.
Another example of a distillery that produces distinct brands is the “La Tequileña” distillery (NOM 1146), where brands such as Don Fulano, Artenom Selección de 1146, Cimarrón, and Fuenteseca are produced. This distillery is located in the town of Tequila, Jalisco, and has a wide variety of equipment available. A brand can choose which blend of machinery and techniques to use in order to achieve a specific flavor profile.
Is there also a danger of tequilas made in the same distillery tasting the same? You bet. It’s also possible for a tequila brand to buy pre-made “stock tequila” from a distillery, and have it bottled and sold without having much (if any) involvement in the production process.
So, the NOM number can tell you some basic information on where a tequila is made, but it can only go so far. And, here’s another variable: It is legal for one distillery to sell tequila to another distillery (and have it delivered via tanker truck). The location of a tequila’s distillation is not publicly disclosed (and neither is the exact source of the agave), but a record is kept somewhere within the walls of the CRT. Because of this, we may never know the exact location of a tequila’s creation, or even how it was created.
If you are still wondering why Patrón would bother to list the names of every one of their competitors on their own website through its NOM search, our take on this approach is simple. They are making a subtle but valid point. They built and maintain their own distillery (a costly operation) because the only way they can achieve consistency and quality is by having control of every step of the process. And, you’ll never see a tequila made at the Patrón distillery under another brand name at a lower price. (Putting the same tequila in different bottles and at different price points is not uncommon.) This “all in” investment in the process is one claim that 97.8% of their competitors cannot make and is worth pointing out.
More About the Tequila Matchmaker NOM Database
Our list of brands is slightly different than what appears within the CRT’s published spreadsheets because we take a curated approach by consolidating brands when appropriate. For example, in the CRT spreadsheet, “Siete Leguas” (NOM 1120) appears as “SIETE LEGUAS; 7 LEGUAS; D’ANTAÑO; ANTAÑO; 7 LEGUAS; SIETE LEGUAS.” We clean this up and list them all under a single brand name with several products.
The CRT regularly updates their list, including tequila brands and distilleries that are in active production. Once a tequila brand, or a distillery, stops producing, it is dropped from their list. That’s where we come in. This historical information is recorded, curated, and made available to search within the Tequila Matchmaker app. So, if you find an old bottle, you can still search its NOM number to see where it was made.
There are 1,716 brands included in the Tequila Matchmaker database, but only 1,196 of them are currently listed in the most recent update of the CRT’s NOM database. These brands come from 138** different active distilleries in Mexico.
Our NOM database is usually updated within a few hours of the CRT’s release of new information.
(* – Contrary to popular belief, a NOM number is not assigned to a particular building, but to the party responsible for the final product. This can be an individual person, or a corporation.)
(** – NOM 1114, the home of El Caballito Cerrero, is not currently listed with the CRT. We include them on this list because we’ve toured their distillery recently, and can confirm that they are still producing tequila. That is why our chart shows 139 instead of 138.)