Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Alcohol and science: Saving the agave

'For centuries, artisans working in the adobe haciendas of Mexico's rural valleys have followed tradition to make the powerful spirit tequila. Copying age-old indigenous techniques, they distilled the liquor from sweet juice cooked out of the fat stems of a local succulent, the blue agave (Agave tequilana Weber, var. azul). But in recent years, tequila makers have had to bring the latest science to the agricultural process to save both the industry and the culture it supports. Some of the oldest and biggest producers are employing scientists, building high-tech laboratories and funding academic research on the blue agave so that researchers from biochemists to geneticists can scrutinize this little-understood plant.' More


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