There are a lot of different tequilas out there. In fact, the amount of tequila produced has grown 140 percent in the United States since 2002, and new brands are popping up to meet the demand. With all these options, it can be hard to know what to taste next. One place to start is the NOM, or Norma Oficial Mexicana, number.
The NOM number can be found on every bottle of tequila. It’s part of the certification from the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT), and it assures that tequila is made according to the set rules that govern its production. In other words, if it doesn’t have a NOM, it’s not authentic tequila. The number after the letters “NOM” represents the government regulated distillery where the tequila was made. If you start looking closer at your bottles, you’ll start to notice the same NOM numbers on bottles from different brands. Your eyes aren’t fooling you. Anything with the same NOM number is produced in the same distillery.
Of course, just because two brands are made in the same distillery doesn’t mean they’ll taste the exact same. Brand A could use agave sourced from a different farmer or location than Brand B, which would result in a different flavor. They could also be fermented with different yeasts. However, brands from the same distillery will have similarities. Think of it like the rye whiskey brands that come from MGP in Indiana. The distillery makes rye that’s used by many different brands like Tincup, Redemption and Templeton Rye, to name a few. Those brands don’t taste the exact same because of different mashbills and finishing techniques, but they do have similarities because the whiskey is distilled in the same location using the same equipment.
In Mexico, it’s rare for a distillery to make only one brand of tequila. According to Taste Tequila, which keeps an updated database of NOM numbers and the related brands, there are around 140 active tequila distilleries and about 1,200 brands. Only around 2 percent of tequila is made at a distillery dedicated to just one brand, including Patrón (NOM 1492), Siete Leguas (NOM 1120), and Suerte (NOM 1530).
Thanks to Taste Tequila’s app Tequila Matchmaker, it’s easy to find which brands are made at which distilleries. El Jimador, for example, is made at the same distillery at Tequila Herradura. Sauza is made at the same distillery as Hornitos. Looking through the NOM listings, you’ll also find smaller brands made at a distillery that you may not have heard of, as well as brands that are only available in Mexico.
It’s time to branch out when it comes to your tequila drinking. If you have a tequila you know you like, try tasting something that’s made in the same distillery. You might just find another favorite.