Tequila is more popular than ever, and the Mexican tequila industry is mobilizing to clamp down on knockoffs, USA Today reports. Imitations range from the good—quality tequila made outside of Mexico—to the ugly—cheap and possibly contaminated sugarcane liquors made in basements. "These phony products are a cancer that affect us all," says an official of the drink's regulatory council.
A treaty Mexico has signed with 26 other countries mandates that only liquors made from at least 51% Mexican agave can be called tequila. Popularity of the drink has risen after a no-holds-barred advertising campaign: Exports nearly doubled in 1995-2005. "It's a drink that became famous and attractive for being wild and exotic," says an industry consultant.