What Makes Tequila So Special?

Read Time: 4 min.

In the many parts of the tequila development process, perhaps nothing is as important as growing and harvesting agave properly. And yet, while lots of people around the world enjoy tequilas and mezcals, most outside of the tequila industry don’t know much about the very unique plant that results in these premium products. So what is it that makes tequila so special?

The Tequila Growers’ Harvesting Process

The agave is a complex plant that takes a specific expertise and the utmost to grow successfully. If you’re looking for a high-quality yield from this crop, it’s important that you start by selecting tequila growers with a rich heritage. Master tequila growers will know how to cultivate the land sustainably and exactly when to harvest the agave in its prime.

Weber’s blue agave — or agave tequilana azul — is the plant used to make tequila, but it’s also a very attractive garden plant. It reaches upward of 6 feet tall and flowers in roughly six to eight years with yellow blooms. The part of the plant that’s used for creating flavorful spirits is the pineapple, the heart of the plant, which is formed by the stem and the base of the leaves.

This piece of the agave plant has concentrated sugars that will transfer into the key ingredient for tequila development. Only one crop can be harvested and used each time, and the pineapple must be carefully extracted with a tool called a jima. Normally, the harvest is carried out after the plant’s fifth year, although sometimes it’s left for six to eight years.

Agave Demand for Tequila Development

Every bottle of tequila must be marked with a denomination of origin on the label. This designation indicates that the tequila is an authentic Mexican product that has been produced by an agave plant from one of only five states. Due to the fact that agave plants can take as long as seven years to mature, agave supply is quite limited, particularly in light of recent rising demand of tequila and mezcal spirits.

What Is The Difference Between A Distillery And An Integrated Beverage Developer?

Interested in designing a custom tequila or ready-to-drink agave based cocktail? Should you work with a distillery or an integrated beverage developer? What’s the difference?

With shortage of agave supply and increased tequila demand, the plant itself is getting more expensive at a much more rapid pace than the spirit. Mexico News Daily cites an expert: “According to Carlos Riggen, professor of business at the Monterrey Technological Institute, the price of a kilo of agave went up eightfold over the past five years, from 3 pesos to 26.”

The same article states that agave “represents more than 60% of the cost of making tequila” and that “profit margins for tequila companies have declined an average of 50% over the last five years” due to this expense.

Agave Appreciation

Most spirits are made out of grains, as with vodka, or sugars, as with rum, that are easier to harvest than agave. These ingredients create alcohols that are perfect to blend with additional flavors, to use in barrels, or to create infusions, as with gin and whiskey. The complexity and uniqueness of the agave plant makes tequila special even from the blanco profile, recently distilled. It’s smooth as it is on its own, simple and easy to appreciate when it’s pure. And we owe this primarily to the agave plant, which is why we think tequila deserves its great value in the spirits industry.

Wanna join the growing industry of this popular and refined drink? Reach out to Aceves Spirits to learn more about our tequila development process!