MEXICO CITY – A Mexican specialist in environmental agriculture and chemistry has invented a device to detect a tequila’s authenticity and quality and the manner in which it was processed.
In an interview with Efe, Mercedes Guadalupe Lopez Perez, an expert with the National Polytechnic Institute’s Research and Advanced Studies Center in the central city of Irapuato, acknowledged that this technology – first built in the mid-20th century at Cornell University in the United States – has been used extensively with wines but not tequila.
The device is capable of “measuring the potency of the different aromatic compounds in any given product,” making it useful for determining the authenticity of a food or beverage, the researcher said.
Lopez Perez has been working since the mid-1990s on developing the apparatus – known as a gas chromatography-olfactometry, or GC-O device – both in the Mexican state of Guanajuato and in Germany and New Zealand.
She said tequila is a spirituous beverage that is “extremely complex” in terms of its chemical composition, making it an enormous challenge to develop a GC-O for that purpose.
Lopez Perez acknowledged that “human beings’ and animals’ ability to detect aromas is many times greater than that of analytical equipment,” but even so she wants to develop an apparatus that can better determine the quality of the tequila that people consume.
The instrument is “capable of making aromatic and sensorial distinctions in order to distinguish an authentic beverage,” she said.
In the case of tequila, it can differentiate between blanco (white), reposado (rested) and añejo (aged or vintage), among other varieties, helping people “know if a product is authentic or not,” the specialist said.
“For them to give you a reposado instead of añejo is already a fraud,” Lopez Perez said, adding that she has not yet given the slightest thought to how she might market the device.
She said the technology is not comparable to wine tasting, in which an enologist determines which among several wines is the most pleasing to the taste buds, but rather seeks to detect “which compound is present that should not be or which are not that should be present” in the tequila.
Tequila is a beverage made from fermented juices of the blue agave plant, close to 240 million of which are grown in the states of Jalisco, Guanajuato and Nayarit in western Mexico. EFE