The ‘NOM’ number printed on tequila bottles refers to the distillery where the tequila was produced. NOM stands for ‘Norma Oficial Mexicana’ which translates to ‘Official Mexican Standard’. This number is assigned by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (Tequila Regulatory Council) to approved tequila manufacturers in Mexico.
What is the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT)?
The Consejo Regulador del Tequila (Tequila Regulatory Council or CRT) is the Mexican governmental organization that oversees and regulates the tequila industry. The CRT establishes strict guidelines and regulations that tequila producers must follow in order to be able to label their spirit as tequila. These include rules about allowed ingredients, production methods, and geographic areas where agave can be grown and tequila can be produced.
The CRT also assigns NOM numbers to approved tequila distilleries. Any manufacturer that meets the CRT’s regulations and standards can obtain a NOM number which allows them to produce and bottle tequila for sale.
Purpose of the NOM number
The NOM number serves several important purposes:
- It verifies that the tequila was produced at a distillery approved by the CRT and subject to Mexican government regulations.
- It allows traceability back to the specific distillery in case there are ever quality issues.
- It provides consumers assurance that the tequila they are buying is authentic, 100% agave tequila from Mexico.
- It prevents fraud by making it difficult to pass off non-tequila spirits as authentic tequila.
So in summary, the NOM number indicates that the tequila comes from a legitimate, regulated distillery in Mexico that adheres to strict production standards. It provides confidence in the spirit’s quality and authenticity.
Format of the NOM number
NOM numbers always follow the same format:
NOM XXXX XXXX
The numbers are assigned in numerical order as new distilleries are approved. The oldest tequila producers have lower numbers, while more recent producers or new distilleries have higher numbers.
For example, NOM 1122 is assigned to Jose Cuervo, one of the oldest and most established tequila brands. More recent producers may have numbers in the 1400s or 1500s.
How to interpret the NOM number
There are a few things you can deduce from a tequila bottle’s NOM number:
- Lower numbers like NOM 1122 indicate an older, well-established brand.
- Higher numbers like NOM 1416 are newer brands or producers.
- Repeated numbers on different brands means those brands are owned by the same parent company.
- The location of the distillery can be determined from an online database search of the NOM registry.
So while the number itself doesn’t reveal detailed information, it provides some insight into the history and ownership of a tequila brand.
Do all tequila brands have a NOM number?
Legally, any bottle labeled and sold as tequila, whether it’s made by a major brand or a small craft distillery, must have a NOM number issued by Mexico’s CRT. If a bottle does not have a NOM number printed on it, it is not officially recognized as authentic tequila.
Some exceptions are:
- Tequila produced for consumption solely within Mexico does not require a NOM number.
- Some small craft distilleries may be awaiting authorization and assignment of their official NOM number.
- Counterfeit tequila producers obviously would not have a real NOM number.
But any genuine export 100% agave tequila sold worldwide should always have an authentic NOM number issued by the CRT on the bottle.
Can you tell the tequila’s quality from the NOM number?
There is no direct correlation between a tequila’s NOM number and its quality. Having an assigned NOM number simply means the distillery meets basic production standards required by law.
Tequila quality can vary widely among producers with NOM numbers. Factors like distillation process, barrel aging, and raw ingredient quality have a much bigger impact on the final product’s taste and grade than the NOM number alone.
A lower NOM may indicate a time-honored brand, but won’t necessarily signal better tequila. And some excellent craft tequilas carry higher NOMS. So the number itself should not be used to judge how premium or smooth a tequila might taste.
What are some well-known tequila NOM numbers?
Here are the NOM numbers for some popular tequila brands:
How are NOM numbers assigned to new tequila distilleries?
For a new distillery to obtain a NOM number certifying them as an authorized tequila producer, they must follow these steps:
- Apply for a permit from Mexico’s Tax Administration Service to produce distilled agave spirits.
- Construct the distillery adhering to all regulations and specifications required for tequila production.
- Submit documentation, plans, and ownership information to the CRT for review.
- Allow CRT to verify compliance through on-site inspections.
- Obtain CRT’s approval and assignment of an official NOM number.
- Begin producing tequila following guidelines to continue meeting CRT standards.
Only once a new tequila brand has completed this process and receives their unique NOM number can their product legally be classified, labeled, and sold as tequila both in Mexico and worldwide markets.
Can a tequila distillery lose its NOM number?
It is possible for a tequila distillery to have its NOM number revoked by the CRT if it fails to maintain compliance with regulations. Reasons a NOM number may be revoked include:
- Using less than 100% blue agave in the distilling process.
- Producing tequila outside of designated geographic regions.
- Failing to adhere to production methods and quality standards.
- Not having proper safety and sanitation procedures.
- Mislabeling tequila products and bottle aging.
- Any other violation of CRT rules and norms.
If a serious infraction occurs, the CRT can cancel the distillery’s NOM number which effectively prohibits them from selling tequila until they correct the issue. Having a permit revoked is very rare though, as most brands closely follow regulations to avoid losing their license and ability to produce legit tequila.
Does a NOM number indicate where a tequila was made?
While the NOM number itself does not reveal the physical location of a distillery, you can determine where a tequila brand’s production facility is located by searching the CRT’s NOM registry database online.
By looking up a specific NOM number, you can find out details including:
- Distillery name
- Full street address
- State located in
For example, NOM 1492 which is assigned to Patrón, can be traced to the Hacienda Patrón distillery located at Carretera a Catano 227, Ahualulco de Mercado, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.
So while not overtly stated on the bottle, the NOM provides a way to discover exactly where your tequila was originally distilled.
What does “Hecho en Mexico” mean on tequila?
The phrase “Hecho en Mexico” found on some tequila labels means “Made in Mexico.” This indicates the tequila was produced within Mexican borders as required by law for it to be officially classified as tequila.
Only tequilas manufactured in specific regions of Mexico can display the “Hecho en Mexico” declaration on their bottle. Those permitted states include:
If a spirit was distilled outside of Mexico, it cannot legally be called tequila. Phrases like “Hecho en Mexico” help verify the bottling adheres to geographical standards required for true tequilas.
Does more aging lead to a higher NOM number?
The aging time of a tequila whether it is blanco, reposado or anejo, has no relation to the NOM number assigned to a distillery. The NOM is tied only to production location and processes, not barrel aging.
A lower NOM like 1120 can produce both young tequilas aged less than 2 months, as well as extra anejos aged 3+ years. The extended aging period does not make the NOM number increase.
So higher numbers do not indicate more aged or premium tequilas. The aging designation on the label will specify whether it is a blanco, reposado, etc. Independent of a tequila’s NOM.
How can you tell if a NOM number is fake?
There are a few ways you can spot a potentially fake or fraudulent NOM number on a tequila bottle:
- The number does not match the standard format of 4 digits – space – 4 digits
- Searching the number in the CRT database yields no results
- Multiple tequila brands list the same number, but are not commonly owned
- The distillery name tied to the number seems suspicious or non-existent
- The bottling claims to be “Hecho en Mexico” but NOM registry shows a foreign location
Additionally, you can contact the Tequila Regulatory Council’s offices directly to verify if a given NOM is real and still actively registered. With counterfeit spirits on the rise, double-checking questionable NOM numbers can help avoid fake tequila.
Does anejo tequila have a different NOM system?
The NOM numbering and registry system is the same for all types of tequila – blanco, reposado, and anejo. There is no separate NOM framework for classifying aged tequilas.
The same distillery NOM number will appear on every bottle of tequila produced there, from young blancos to extra-aged anejos. The aging designation will be indicated by the specific product name, not by the overarching distillery NOM.
So a brand like Cuervo’s NOM 1122 applies to their full range of tequilas from silver to gold to aged varieties. There is no distinct NOM numbering convention just for anejo tequilas.
Is a NOM number required on mezcal bottles?
Unlike with tequila, mezcal bottles are not required to have an official NOM number printed on their label. This is because mezcal production is not currently as regulated and standardized as tequila.
However, many reputable mezcal brands voluntarily include an assigned NOM number on their bottles. This provides the same benefit of verifying the spirit’s authenticity and origin for consumers. Use of NOM numbers on mezcal is starting to increase as its popularity grows.
So while not mandatory, the presence of an official NOM number on a mezcal can be an indicator of a legitimate brand following tequila-grade production methods.
A tequila’s NOM number provides important production details and reassurance of authenticity. This numerical identifier verifies the distillery is an authorized, CRT-regulated producer of legitimate tequila made in Mexico.
While the NOM itself does not directly convey quality or flavor profiles, it can offer useful insight into a brand’s roots and ownership. Checking for an authentic NOM helps guarantee the bottle you’re enjoying is genuine, agave-derived tequila.