Is the World Headed for a Tequila Shortage? Experts Say Yes

Looks like therapy might soon be cheaper than tequila after all…

By Ethan L. Johns
February 13, 2018

Image: Randy Plett/Getty Images

Hey, you! Lover of cheap tequila! Lover of long nights and hater of even longer mornings! It might be high time to stop absentmindedly shooting back that mass-market devil’s water and start sippin’, because you might wake up from your stupor one day and find that it’s a whole lot more expensive than it used to be.

Start sippin’ the Cuervo? Are you mad? We ain’t mad, son, we just out here reportin’ the less-than-savory news. Mexico is the only place where tequila can be grown, and unfortunately Mexico is running out of supplies.

As with all alcoholic beverages, tequila is an agricultural product, which is a fancy term for something made from plants. But unlike, say, vodka, which is made from wheat—a grain that, on global average, yields nearly 3,500 pounds per acre every year—tequila can only be made from the stems of one specific type of agave (blue agave), which yields 6,700 pounds per acre every six to eight years.

And, to add insult to macheted succulent leaves, the price of blue agave has seen a 500 percent increase over the past two years, according to Reuters.

For the fancy-pants brands like Patron that produce pure tequila, this poses no problemo. High-end products are fewer in number and bring in higher profits per bottle, so luxury producers can afford to pay a premium for mature blue agave.

That luxury of being able to drop top dollar is not afforded to run-of-the-mill blended tequila producers—both small and large in size—which require a cheap supply in order to crank out your affordable Friday night regrets en masse.

With agave theft on the rise, the stakes are being raised higher for your favorite liquor to drink with salt and lime, and the shortage is not expected to right itself until at least 2021.

So stockpile if you must, but if worse comes to worst, a caipirinha is basically the same thing as a margarita.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns