An age-old tequila-making craft is in danger of dying out

The skills of the jimador are traditionally passed from father to son but, although demand for tequila is booming, the younger generation are deserting the land.

Standing tall amid the latticework of burnt orange and blue that embroiders the north-western highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, Armando Acevez takes a sleeve in his hand and wipes it across his sweaty brow. His hands are rough; blistered portraits of a life which for almost two decades has been spent working on this unforgiving terrain.

Acevez is a jimador, or cultivator of the blue Weber agave plants whose nectar is the lifeblood of the lucrative tequila industry.

The craft of the agave harvest, still done entirely by hand, has remained virtually unchanged since around 1600 when tequila was first invented by the Spanish conquistadors. It is also one that has traditionally remained in families, with each generation teaching the next, ensuring that the mechanisation of the tequila harvest has been kept at bay.


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