The Blue Agave plant is not just any shrub
Originally native to Mexico, the Blue Agave plant is now grown throughout the world. But only the Blue Agave plant grown in Jalisco, Mexico (plus a few other municipalities) can be used to make 100% de Agave Tequila. In fact, it is the only ingredient for Blanco, Reposado and Anejo Tequila.
Despite its appearance, the Blue Agave plant is NOT part of the cactus family. The agave family have more in common with the lily, and have no relation to the cactus, despite both being prickly succulents. Close relatives to the Blue Agave plant are onions, garlic, palm trees, pineapples, artichoke, and asparagus. The semi-circular arrangement of their leaves, or layers, hints at a biological similarity.
The Blue Agave’s unique characteristics are borne from the water-starved environment of Mexico, equipping the plant with a natural resilience to drought and water shortage, as well as a multitude of other, natural defenses. Perhaps it is this need to survive without a lot of water, Blue Agave plants have incredibly long maturity cycle. Most agaves are harvested after 5-7 years of growth, but some jimadores prefer to harvest the plants at 14 years of age. The longer they mature, the more agavins (fructose) can grow in the piña (the ‘heart’) of the agave, which means more Tequila!
If you don’t harvest the Blue Agave in time, a large, long stalk grows straight up, with yellow flowers that blossom at its end. The flowers require much of the piña’s sugar to grow, so jimadores make sure to harvest the plant before the stalk, let alone the flower, grow. If the plant is left to blossom, it will die off, as it is monocarpic.
This is a lot of information – truly interesting information – but we don’t blame you if you want a drink to wash down these Blue Agave plant facts. Might we recommend our Organic 100% de Agave Blanco Tequila (but feel to try our Reposado and Anejo too)? Salud!