Heineken faces legal action over Desperados branding

The Tequila Regulatory Council says it is preparing to sue Dutch brewing giants Heineken over the use of  the word ‘Tequila’ on the labels of its Desperados lager range.

The regulatory board has threatened legal action over the use of the protected word ‘Tequila’ on the labels of Desperados after claiming the product does not in fact contain any of the spirit.

“We cannot permit someone unscrupulously to affect tequila’s prestige,” Ramón González, CRT director-general, told the Financial Times. “Either they take the word tequila off it, or they put some tequila in. (If they refuse) We’ll have no choice but to fight this (in court).” 

Heineken spokesman Michael Fuchs, said: “(Desperados) is a beer flavoured with tequila. The flavouring we use contains tequila, which we buy in Mexico from one of the members of the CRT . . . We make sure the product fully complies with all regulations and labelling requirements.”

Tequila is protected by its state of origin, which governs how and where the spirit can be made and also how drinks containing tequila can be marketed. 

Under Mexican rules, 25% or 51% of a prepared beverage’s alcohol content, depending on the category, must come from tequila.

Mr Fuchs added: “We would like to emphasise that Desperados and the CRT cover a lot of common ground: we’re all huge tequila lovers and through the Desperados brand we promote the greatness of tequila in 85 markets across the world.”