Tequila, one of the most popular drinks of today’s times comes with a long and rich history that traces back to early Mexico, North America.
Before the times of the Spanish conquest, the native people of Mexico used to ferment the sap of plants called Agave in order to produce a drink called Pulque. After the invasion, Spanish Conquistadors distilled Pulque to replace the brandy they had run out of. The drink produced was called Mezcal Wine and became North America’s first distilled spirit.
Mezcal Wine eventually evolved to become the Tequila we know today. Both Mezcal and Tequila are made using the heart of the Agave plant called pina. Tequila is a type of Mezcal however it is produced in a different manner. Tequila is produced using only the Blue Agave plant while Mezcal can be produced using five different types of Agave. Mezcal is made using pina that is baked over charcoal in a rock lined pit oven, covered with palm fibre mats and earth. Tequila on the other hand is made from pina that is steamed or baked in ovens above the ground.
The name Tequila comes from the small town of Tequila in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. The Blue Agave plant, known as the best variety to produce Tequila, flourishes in this town.
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In 1758, the King of Spain granted a man called Jose Antonio Cuervo the rights to cultivate a section of land with Agave plants, which then led to the first licensed commercial manufacture of Tequila. Today, Jose Antonio Cuervo is a well renowned Tequila brand that is the largest manufacturer and exporter of the drink.
In 1858, a man named Don Cenobio Sauza visited the town of Tequila and was completely entranced by the place. He worked at the Cuervo distillery where he learned about the production behind Tequila. He also gained expertise in Agave farming. With this knowledge, he bought his own distillery and established Sauza Tequila; till date one of Jose Cuervo’s greatest competitors. Tequila made its way to the USA for the first time as an export from Sauza Tequila.
Tequila did not attain importance until post 1821, when Mexico gained independence and Spanish products were hard to get. Next the Mexican revolution took place which brought about a huge wave of patriotism towards Mexican made products including Tequila.
In the USA, a prohibition was set on Tequila but this only increased the popularity of the drink, and as a result the drink was smuggled across the border. Demand for the product increased again in USA during World War II as a result of scarce supply of spirits from Europe.
With the increasing demand for the drink, the production also increased. This got the government involved in the form of setting up rules for the production of the product. In 1944, the Mexican government set strict standards that demanded any product called ‘Tequila’ be only produced in the state of Jalisco using Agave grown there. Also to maintain the highest quality of Tequila, it was made compulsory that Tequila be made using no less than 51% Agave Tequiliana Weber, variety Azul.
The rest as they say is history.
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