It can only be made with Blue Agave + It can only be made in designated states in Mexico. Let's find out more about those two facts below. What is a Blue Agave ? What are the states ?
what is a blue agave ?
In short, there are over 300 species of agave (around 130 actually grow in Mexico) and let’s be clear, Agaves are not from the cactus family nor related to Aloe Vera or Lilies. Agaves are actually part of the Asparagaceae family.
Tequila can only be produced with Agave Rigidiae tequiliana weber var. azul, or the Blue Weber agave. The blue agave was classified by German botanist F. Weber in 1905 hence Weber in the name of the agave. This is also the most cultivated of the agave family.
To learn further about the plant please go and read what Ian Chadwick says about it HERE
Only the hearts, known as piñas are used to make Tequila. The leaves will have other use such as food, fiber, musical instruments and surfboard elements....
Piñas can weigh up to 125 kg in the Highlands and 60-80 kg in the Lowlands of the state of Jalisco. The average is 70 kg and with such a piña one can produce 10 liters of Tequila (around 12 bottles)….
how do agave grow?
Agaves are plants that are slow maturing and have several reproduction strategies to face the arid conditions in which they grow.
In the sandy hot climates they live in, not so many animals can survive, meaning it is never sure pollination will happen. Agaves do not place all their seeds in one pod that is why they reproduce both sexually and asexually…
The large and tall flower that grows from the piña contains around 200 seeds. In this arid region they only attract bats. Bats are attracted to the nectar and pollen secreted by the plant and will disseminate the seeds. This mode of reproduction is known as bat-pollination.
There is a strong decline in the population of bats and it will probably affect the agaves in the long run.
This is certainly more efficient in the short term. The intensified monoculture it led to is however not a guarantee of efficiency in the long run. For example, it makes the agave more fragile and vulnerable to disease. So when any epidemic hits, more plants are vulnerable because of the identical DNA profile and lack of variations, than it would have been, had they been grown in the normal pollination process
To go further, follow the passionate and informed discussion in the forum HERE
and read the post about Agave shortage by Ian Chadwick HERE
a long and complex growth: trimming and other challenges
The Agaves are regularly trimmed and pruned to force the plant to increase the size of the heart, the piñas, instead of the leaves, flower and shoots and most of all to increase the sugar content of the head. Without trimming the piñas would have quickly large shoots, which would draw the energy and sugar away from the piñas (sugar is needed, not only for taste but to assure fermentation will take place).
Pests (insects and bacteria) can be a threat for Agave, which is why constant monitoring is essential.
tequila only comes from designated states in Mexico
Tequila can only be produced in defined areas in the following Mexican states: Jalisco, Nayarit, Michoacan, Guanajuato and Tamaulipas.
The word Tequila comes from the name of a town in Jalisco.
Tequila is protected by a Designation of Origin
Tequila is protected internationally by a Designation of Origin controlled by an independent body “El Consejo Regulator del Tequila” located in Jalisco. El Consejo has diverse functions, it controls that Tequila is correctly produced, where Tequila is produced (see the map below taken from the official website) and gives the official definition.
the official definition of tequila
Here is the Consejo official definition of Tequila:
“Regional alcoholic beverage distilled from must, directly and originally prepared from the material extracted in the factory premises of an Authorized Manufacturer which shall be located within the territory specified in the Declaration for the Protection of Appellation of Origin Tequila (also called the Denomination of Origin Tequila – DOT). Tequila is prepared from the heads of the Agave Tequila Weber Blue Variety, previously of subsequently hydrolyzed or cooked, and subjected to alcoholic fermentation with yeast, cultivated or not, and the must be capable of being enhanced and blended together to formulate with other sugars to a ratio not higher than 40% of total reducing sugars expressed in units of mass, (...) being understood that blend mix is not allowed. Tequila is a liquid which, according to its kind, is colorless or colored when mature“
More info HERE
In a nutshell :
Not only does Tequila come from specific and protected areas, but should be processed in the above mentioned way and last but not least only the alcoholic drinks made from at least 51% blue agave and in the regions listed above can be named Tequila.