Blue agave field near Atotonilco, Jalisco, Mexico
© Brian Overcast/Alam
These fields of blue agave are the source material required to make genuine tequila. Blue agave is native to Jalisco, a coastal state of Mexico, where it grows head-high in the rich sandy soils of Jalisco’s highlands. Its flowers are pollinated, not by bees or birds, but by the Mexican long-nosed bat. The bat’s favourite food is the pollen and nectar of agave. Tequila is made by roasting the core of the plant and then crushing or squeezing it to release a sugary, clear liquid called aguamiel, which translates to honey water. That liquid is distilled to produce tequila. Authentic tequila, by law, can be made only in Jalisco and a few municipalities outside it, and its authenticity is protected by trade agreements.