Interest in Agave Spirits Is Growing Outside of Mexico
US and international distillers now offer tequila-like spirits
It’s not legally tequila or mezcal, but other categories of agave spirits made outside of Mexico are gaining ground in the drinks world. Per Tequila Raiders, Pennsylvania’s Yardley Distillery is one of several America brands to debut a tequila-like expression (Agave Spirit Blanco). Because of an Appellation of Origin established in 1978, tequila must be produced in certain territories of Mexico, and the producer must follow the Official Standard for Tequila. But that doesn’t stop distilleries outside of the designated areas of Mexico from producing like-minded spirits from agave.
For Yardley, not much is known about the new release beyond a cryptic Instagram post. But there are other producers who have already come to market with their bottles or begun growing agave. California’s Stargazer Spirits, for example, is currently farming 30+ agave varietals in the heart of wine country. It’s international, too — Negave Estates is growing agave in Israel and Australia Agave is growing Blue Weber agave in the dry tropics of North Queensland. (And this is actual agave, not sotol, which is more agave adjacent and being used by several distillers.)
As far as bottles you can already buy and drink, there’s American Agave Spirit from Missouri’s Mean Mule, a range of agave spirits from California’s Shelter Distilling and a few Colorado distilleries (38 Distilling, NOCO Distillery) that import Blue Weber agave from Mexico. Some of the distilleries note that they’re growing agave in similar climates to Mexico, while others are stressing that they’re intentionally growing agave in climes that are far different. Either way, we should be seeing more non-Mexican agave spirits in the near future, and they may very well offer a taste profile that’s unlike the tequila and mezcal we know.
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