The Tequila Boom Creates Excessive Agave Planting : Planet Money : The Indicator from Planet Money The demand for tequila is booming, but it wasn't always the case. We speak with a fifth generation tequila distiller and a tequila scholar on the history of tequila and what will happen with this current boom.

The Tequila Boom And Agave Bust

The Tequila Boom And Agave Bust

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Maurico Palos/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Jimador, agave field worker, uses a coa de jima tool to cut the leaves off a blue agave during harvesting.
Maurico Palos/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tequila is one of the fastest-growing distilled spirits in the world. Following George Clooney's business venture, celebrities are now jumping on the tequila bandwagon. According to sociologist Marie Sarita Gaytan, the tequila industry has transformed over the decades. What was once the liquor for hangovers is now known for refined brands and tastes.

Carlos Camarena is a fifth-generation tequila distiller. He has been active in the tequila rebranding campaign for decades. As the demand for tequila skyrockets, the supply cannot keep up. Agave plants take years to mature and require very skilled workers to process. Land grabs and agave planting are happening rapidly, but Carlos says it's easy to predict a cyclical bust in the tequila market. With millions of extra agave plants maturing in the next eight years or so, supply will eventually exceed demand. So Carlos is preparing for the future by sticking to the traditions, making high-quality tequila one bottle at a time.

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