October 17, 2007

Mexican distillers slam rise of fake tequila

Only drink the good stuff.

Mexican distillers slam rise of fake tequila:

Although most consumers might not know, or care, if they're getting an impostor, Mexican producers are concerned that the drink's image could eventually be damaged by subpar products. Tequila was once the drink of Mexican peasants, and tequila makers spent decades and millions of dollars in advertising to get it into fine restaurants and trendy discotheques.

Though sales have not fallen, tequila makers are afraid they might, Miguel Cruz said.

"The sale of these counterfeits causes doubt in the consumer," he said. "If you drink a phony product and it makes you decide never to buy a tequila ever again, then the popularity that tequila has achieved could decline."

Tequila is made from the blue agave, a desert plant with long, sharp spines. It is named after the town of Tequila in the western Mexican state of Jalisco.

Mexico and 26 other countries, mostly in Europe, have signed a treaty that protects the name tequila. Under that pact, known as the Lisbon Agreement, only blue-agave liquor from 181 towns in Mexico can carry the name. The liquor must contain 51 percent agave.

The same treaty says that only wines from France's Champagne region can be called Champagne and only wines from Spain's La Rioja region can be called Rioja.

The United States has not signed the treaty but protects the tequila name under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. In return, Mexico recognizes Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey as American spirits.

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