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Tequila And Agave

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Although thought to be mostly a coarse drink made from the Mexican
or Blue Agave plant, tequila and other products of the agave plant have a
major economic impact on Mexico and are used in many applications
throughout the world. The agave plant has been used in Mexico for thousands
of years but the distillation process used to make tequila was brought to
the Aztecs by the Spaniards in the fifteenth century.
The Agave plant is actually a very slow growing plant and it is
reported to only flower once or twice every three or four years in
excellent conditions and as few as five times in a hundred years in poor
conditions. Poor weather can result in no production for a period of
several years. However the plant itself is very resilient and can survive
in very hostile low water conditions.
The agave's flowers however may reach up to 20 ft. and grow very
rapidly. The plant is harvested by cutting of the top of the flower shoot
and collecting the sap. One plant may yield as much as 1000 liters of sap
in optimal conditions. This is the pulgue sap that is fermented to make
mescal (the national drink of Mexico) and later distilled twice and aged to
make tequila.
Some of the other products that are made with the sap include soap,
tortilla flavoring, a chemical for stunning fish, a vitamin mixture for
livestock, and a chemical to enhance the whiteness of the pulp in paper
Agave is actually a monocot in the Sisal Family, Agavacae. There
are 12 genera and 400 species that make all sorts of products from sisal
hemp (rope like fiber) to medicines and drinks such as tequila and mescal.
They are flowering plants that have rosettes of large succulent leaves and
short spines. Most plants are found in tropical and subtropical regions and
particularly ...

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