The History Of Tequila

The history of the liquor today known as Tequila began with the ancient tribe of Mexico, The Aztec’s, the Chichimecan’s, the Otomies, the Toltecan’s and the Nahuatl’s who drank beverages made from the Agave plant that is used to make Tequila.

The European influence on tequila came via the Spanish who arrived in the village of Tequila in a region of Techinchan in the old Aztec Empire & now the Jalisco state of Mexico. The Village of Tequila also sat at the foot of a Volcano name Tequila.

It is unfortunate that with the fall of the Aztec Empire the Spanish destroyed so much of the history of the ancient civilisations of Mexico, so the true history of tequila is one of mystery, myth & legend.

Myth has it that the Ancient version of tequila was drank by the Aztecs during rituals where one of the tribe would be scarified to one of their many gods & during the orgy that followed.

The word tequila itself is a mystery, it is said to be an ancient Nahuatl term meaning the place of harvesting plants.

The Nahuatl called the Agave plant metl or mexcametl, from which the word The word tequila itself is a mystery, it is said to be an ancient Nahuatl term meaning the place of harvesting plants.

The Nahuatl called the Agave plant metl or mexcametl, from which the word Mezcal is derived.

The Nahuatl worshipped the Agave plant as the earthly image of the goddess Mayaheul, who had 400 breasts to feed her 400 children.

The Agave plant was known as the tree of miracles. The Agave plant was also used to make mats, clothing, rope, paper & a nutrimental drink named pulque.

The Agave plant is native to North America. Human remains dating back 9,000 years show the early uses of Agave for food and fibre.

The Agave plant is found from the Grand Canyon to Guatemala. The Agave plant was a part of the indigenous peoples of Mexico & North America way of Life long before the first Europeans arrived.

The natives would cook the Agave for many days on coals, then leaving the Agave to ferment. The finished drink named Mescal Crudo the original Tequila was only a mild Alcoholic drink.

In April 1530 the Spanish conquerors arrived in Mexico. They quickly exterminated all resistance from the Aztec empire although being heavily out numbered. The Spanish were running out of brandy and other comestibles they had brought along from Spain, so they fermented Agave juice & the Tequila product was born. This is how history reports however it is possible that the great civilisations of Mexico actually created a version of Tequila first.

The Spaniards first learned of a drink named pulque which Mexican natives made using to fermented sap from the local maguey plants. Maguey is a variety of the Agave plant from which tequila is distilled.

In 1535 it is believed Distillation of pulque, tequila’s predecessor began except the Spanish made something stronger. In his first letter home to Spain, the Conquistador Cristobal de Onate wrote to King Carlos V about sugar obtained from Agave plant & the potential profits to be made.

Around 1550 Mezcal wine also called Mezcal Tequila was first produced.

Tequila was North America’s first distilled beverage and also its first commercially produced alcohol.

In 1600 the first tequila factory was established by Don Pedro Sanchez de Tagle, whom started to develop Mezcal Wines and distil Tequila.

In 1595 The King of Spain Phillip II banned the establishment of any new vineyards in Mexico, this decision was reached to protect Spanish products.

In 1600 Don Pedro Sanches de Tagle, Marquis of Altamira, now known as the father of tequila, start the original tequila factory.

In 1608 the governor of New Galicia imposed the first taxes on Mezcal wine.

In 1619 Mezcal wine started being supplied to the Guadalajara region of Mexico and the first records of Mezcal Wine where written.

In 1636 the governor of Jalisco Don Juan Canseco y Quinones approved the Manufacture of Mezcal wines, to help with the collection of taxes.

In 1651, Spanish doctor Jeronimo Hernandez wrote that tequila was advantageous for medicinal purposes relating to rheumatic cures, He found rubbing tequila on the affected parts of the body could help suffers.

In 1656 the community we now know as Tequila in the state of Jalisco officially became a village.

In 1721 the community of Arandas, in the highlands of Jalisco near the town of Tequila & next to the Volcano named tequila, was founded.

In 1723 Mezcal wine exports began with the opening of the port of San Blas, on the Pacific Ocean.

In 1758 the King of Spain made Jose Antonio Cuervo the first licensed Tequila manufacturer. He acquired a small private distillery already with a Agave plantation.

In 1785 all spirits including Mezcal wines and pulque, were banned by the Jalisco government, to help promote the importation of Spanish wines and liqueurs.

In 1792 the new King Ferdinand IV of Spain lifted the ban. The Jalisco Government decided taxation was a better solution than prohibition.

In 1795 Cuervo’s son Jose Maria Cuervo got the first license to produce Mezcal wine from the King of Spain and founded the first official Mexican distillery.

In 1812 Jose died and left his holdings to his son & Daughter, Jose Ignacio & Maria Magdalena. Maria married Vicente Albino Rojas and her offering was the Tequila distillery. Vicente renamed the distillery La Rojena also increasing its Tequila production.

From 1810 to 1821 Mexico had its War of Independence. Tequila was consumed by soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

In 1821 Jalisco which had a separate government from Mexico, officially became part of Mexico.

In 1821 when Mexico obtained independence from Spain, Tequila gained greater popularity in Mexico, with Spanish Spirits & wines being harder to obtain.

In 1832 Vicente Orendain acquired a distillery from Jose Antonio Cuervo then sold it to Sauza

From 1846 to 1849 Mexico was at war with the United States of America, this war exposed American soldiers to tequila.

In 1854 the product Mezcal of Tequila started to just simply become known as Tequila.

In 1854 a French traveller Ernest de Vigneaux first recorded the name tequila. However it was until the 1870’s that the name Tequila became universal.

In 1857 Curervo died and Jesus Flores took over the distillery.

In 1861 Tequila Herradura was established by Feliciano Romo. Herradura was the first distillery to make a Reposado tequila and only made Tequila with 100% Agave.

In 1873 Don Cenobio Established Sauza & determined that blue Agave was the best for making tequila, and the every Tequila distillery started using only Blue agave.

In 1873 tequila was first exported to the U.S. by Sauza who sold three barrels.

In the 1880s the railroads across North America assisted the distribution, growth & popularity of tequila.

In 1892 Cuervo was the first Tequila distiller to put Tequila into bottles, a ground breaking development by owner Jesus Flores, until that time tequila was only supplied in barrels.

In 1893 Mezcal brandy won it first award at the Chicago World’s Fair.

In 1900 Jesus Flores died, his wife re-married, Jose Cuervo Labastida, and the famous name Jose Cuervo Tequila was born the original name Taberna was reinstated.

In 1904 the first highlands distillery El Centinela was founded.

In 1906 Don Cenobio the founder of Sauza die by this time he had purchased 13 distilleries and 18 Agave plantations.

By 1907 most Tequila distillers had evolved & where selling tequila in bottles. Tequila in bottles radically increased profits. Modernisation of Tequila manufacturing began in this period, in Jalisco the number of Tequila distilleries increased to 92.

In 1910 Mexico Revolution began the number of distilleries in Jalisco dropped to only 32. In the revolution Tequila gained national significance becoming a icon of a new patriotic Mexico. In the revolution armies raided and confiscated tequila from distillers. The larger distilleries also endured hard times after the revolution as the new government redistributed their land and gave away their Agave plantations to peasants & servants.

By 1929 only 8 tequila distillers had survived & continued to struggle through the Depression. Tequila only managed to survive due to its popularity among the Mexican people.

Late in the 1920’s Prohibition in the USA created a boom in Tequila sales as it was smuggled across the border.

In the 1930’s Distillers started using non Agave sugars in fermentation this badly affected the status of Tequila.

During World War II, tequila amplified in status in the USA as European spirits became almost impossible to obtain.

In 1948 Tequila exports fell whilst consumption in Mexico grew, thanks in great part because of the encouraging patriotic depiction of tequila in Mexican movies.

Around 1940 the Margarita cocktail was born in Mexico. This cocktail became the most popular cocktail in bars in North America.

In 1947 tequila gained its first standards.

In 1964 distillers were allowed to use 30% non Agave sugars & by 1966 49%. This made Tequila more palatable to the American market & increased sales.

The 1968 Olympic Games held Mexico City assisted the marketing of Tequila with worldwide exposure.

In 1974 tequila increased international acknowledgment as a product originating only in Mexico.

In 1974 the status of the town of Tequila was elevated to that of a city.

In 1976 Sauza was sold to a corporation, Pedro Domecq from Spain.

In 1974 the first regulations governing how tequila was allowed to be made were decided, then amended in 1976.

In 1977 The Appellation de Origin Controllee was published also protecting Mezcal.

In 1978 to promise tequila’s quality, the Normas Official Mexicana was founded regulating all agriculture, industrial & commercial practices associated to tequila.

In the 1983 American’s discovered the premium Tequila brands lead by the release of Chinaco the first premium tequila sold in the USA appealing to the wealthy &high society’s socialites.

In 1994 the Tequila Regulatory Council Consejo Regulado de Tequila was founded to ensure quality in the Tequila industry.

In 1995 when the required Agave content in tequila was increased to 60%.

In 1996 that Mexico signed an international agreement for all countries to recognise tequila as a product from only 5 regions of Mexico in the northwest part of the country mainly in the state of Jalisco & adjoining states of Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit & Tamaulipas.

In 1997 the European Union signed the Tequila trade accord, recognising Mexico as the sole producer of Tequila.

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