“If I were to make an organizational chart of the most important mammals in the world, I would put bats at the very top,” said naturalist Rodrigo Orozco.
“Every night nectar-eating bats do the same kind of pollination work that bees do by day. At the same time, fruit-eating bats spread seeds far and wide, creating biodiversity, while insect-eating bats prevent bugs from multiplying out of control. Without bats, the human race wouldn’t stand a chance.”
We were sitting at a table in the town of El Arenal, sipping Siembra Valles Ancestral at the Cascahuín Distillery, one of Mexico’s oldest tequilerías and one of the few still producing Mexico’s favorite spirit “the good old way.”
Salvador “Chava” Rosales, Cascahuín’s production manager, was telling us about TIP, the Tequila Interchange Project, a pilot program organized among the owners of Tequila Tapatío, Casa Siete Leguas and Cascahuín.
“This project asks tequila and mezcal producers to let five percent of every hectare of their agaves flower, so bats can pollinate them, benefiting both bats and business,” Rosales explained. “The way we reproduce agaves now – by replanting ‘clones’ – has drastically reduced the genetic diversity of our plants.”
TIP has begun by releasing two bat-friendly tequilas in the United States: Siembra Valles Ancestral and Tequila Ocho, along with a mescal, Don Mateo de la Sierra. And several other distilleries are lining up to get on the bandwagon, according to Rosales.