01. The Fundamentals

While there are many types of agave, only one variety — Weber Blue Agave — can be used to make tequila. understanding the plant, how and where it grows, and how it is harvested is essential in understanding tequila production.

Despite its spiky appearance, it’s worth remembering that agave plants are not cacti. The genus agave is a collection of plants belonging to the Asparagaceae family that grow all over the world but are native to North America, with over 200 species (and untold numbers of subspecies, varieties and hybrids) distributed throughout the continent. The plants are most often found in the arid and semi-arid regions of the U.S. and Mexico to the north, on Caribbean islands, and all the way south to Colombia and Venezuela. Agaves were present in China, India and Java for hundreds of years before being identified in the Mediterranean and Europe as early as the 1500s; some suspect Christopher Columbus brought some back to Europe from his first voyage. Now they grow throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and beyond (and several of these locations have dabbled in making their own agave distillates), but about 75% of the world’s varieties are endemic to Mexico, making them one of the country’s most important and iconic resources.