Agave Tobala (potatorum) grows wildly at high altitudes, and its relatively minuscule size yields extremely limited quantities of intensely aromatic mezcal. Due to its tiny size and long growing period (12-15 years), agave Tobalá is becoming increasingly rare. It is considered by many to be the king agave, and many brands have adopted sustainability efforts to ensure the mezcal made with agave Tobala will continue in the future. Unlike most other agave, Tobala does not produce hijuelos, which are the shoots or pups that sprout around the main plant once it has matured. For this reason, Tobala can only grow from seed. Towns like Santa Catarina Minas, Oaxaca have two different types of Tobala: Tobala Chino which grows in the sun, and Tobala Orejon which grows in the shade. This difference in sunlight is amplified over the 12-15 years it takes for the plants to reach maturity, and the two different types of Tobala have a noticeably different character and taste. Some mezcaleros, like Tio Rey (Mezcal Vago) in Sola de Vega, have been successfully cultivating agave Tobala for years.
Read more about this agave in our blog: Blind Tasting: Agave Tobala Mezcals