While agave has been cultivated and distilled into tequila, mezcal and other spirits in modern-day Mexico for millennia, the plant is now being grown and distilled in California, Australia, South Africa, Peru, Venezuela, India and elsewhere.
What’s behind this globetrotting expansion? The rising popularity of tequila and mezcal, which by definition must be made in Mexico, with agave grown in Mexico. That success has spurred producers around the world to experiment with growing agave anywhere the climate is sufficiently hot and arid enough to support the spiky plants, and then fermenting and distilling the piñas into alcoholic spirits.
Just don’t call the resulting liquid tequila.