Understanding the Tequila NOM

sparkledonkeyNow a lot of the internet might be thinking that I’ve somehow come up with a great new baked treat that incorporates tasty tequila, this is sadly not the case.  (But would make for another great post).  The NOM or Norma Oficial Mexicana is the standard that regulates the production of tequila in Mexico.  By law and tradition Tequila is a distilled agave spirit made in the city of Tequila in the Mexican state of Jalisco, pronounced (Hal-is-co).  The law was eventually expanded to allow any distiller in the state of Jalisco to call their spirit tequlia, and even after that some parts of the neighboring states of  Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas.

As you can see it’s an oddly shaped little state with protrusions and that kinda pitchfork looking section on top.

Much like the French  appellation d’origine contrôlée restricts what you can call Champagne, Bordeaux and Roquefort, the NOM limits tequlia’s to this region and imposes other standards on the production.  It isn’t a mark of quality it simply assures that you’ve bought something that was actually produced in mexico and is what you could consider “legit” tequila as opposed to a knockoff.  If you check a bottle of tequlia you’ll usually find the NOM as a 4 digit number on the back.

Much like any distillery the ones in mexico aren’t always brand specific.  The distillery can manufacture tequila for a number of different labels at different times of year.  You can actually look up the distillery online via http://www.tequila.net/nom-database.html This handy database lists all of the official NOM distilleries and which labels they bottle.  Handy in an argument if you’re trying to prove that 1800 is better than Jose Cuervo. (Fun fact if you look up NOM 1122 you’ll find that they both come out of the same still.)

There are a lot of other agave spirits from Mezcal to Bacanora each with their own regional history.

My own personal favorite Sparkle Donkey comes from a distillery called Destiladora del Valle de Tequila NOM 1438.  Some other brands from that same still include apocalypto tequila , Uno Mas and Verde Green an Organic Kosher tequila.  I’m not entirely sure what you’d need to do to have a Kosher Tequila but I applaud them for trying.

Sparkle Donkey Silver Tequila



The name alone on this tequila is memorable.  You’re not likely to forget the name any time soon.

What makes it slightly more interesting is that while it is produced in Mexico it is distributed by Black Rock Spirits out of Seattle, WA.  It is oddly hard to get a hold of in the Portland area.  There are only two stores that carry it, both on the east side.  I imagine that will change over time because this stuff is awesome.

I had a chance to try both the silver and the reposado at the OMSI after dark tasting and they are both lovely.  The reposado actually has a flavor not unlike cotton candy.  It’s not sweet or cloying but has a lovely round sugar taste.

The silver is also great, it’s not as mild as the reposado.  The repo is aged in bourbon barrels which is a fantastic kick.

So far I’ve made a couple of different drinks with citrus and fruit and in every case the tequila shines through.


Aside from the beverage itself the company has a fantastic website set up to promote the Sparkle Donkey history.  Their Institute for Agave studies tells the story of El Burro Esparkalo a magical tequila distributing donkey from the wilds of mexico.

It is possible to buy this online, but shipping is dodgy.  As with most online liquor sales your location matters more than where the site is located.