The origin of tequila, Mexico’s most representative beverage, dates back to 4 centuries. The tequila history begins when Mexico’s pre-Hispanic civilization merged with the first Spanish conquerors around the year 1538. It was in the early 17th century when Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle, also known as “the father of tequila”, began producing mezcal de tequila on a large scale, building the first major tequila distillery.
Tequila Facts and History
Like most ancient cultures, the origin of tequila is joined by a traditional legend. According to the tequila origin story, on a stormy day, Mayahuel, the goddess of fertility, struck a plantation of agave with lightning. It started a great fire, causing a sweet juice to drip from the agave hearts, attracting natives´ attention. They also discovered that its aroma was enhanced through fermentation. From then on, native people considered this nectar as a divine gift from the goddess Mayahuel.
The blue agave is an ancestral plant that indigenous people used not only to create a fermented beverage but also to make quotidian utensils. In the 16th century, the first Spanish settlers began applying European distillation techniques to the liquor, transforming the nectar traditionally known as mezcal. This process brought about the foundation of tequila.
During the colonial era, the spanish government prohibited its production in favor of the importation of spanish beverages. However, it continued to be produced clandestinely until its production was authorized in the 17th century. Additionally, the taxes collected from tequila contributed to the development of the state of Jalisco.
According to historical documentation, the first recorded exportation in 1873 was destined for the United States and was led by José Antonio de Cuervo, the founder of Tequila José Cuervo.
Tequila began to gain popularity at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. From that moment, it began to be commercialized in the United States, and by the 1970s, consumption had spread throughout the territory.
Origin of the Word Tequila
There are many versions regarding its etymological nature. The word “Tequila” is commonly attributed to a Nahuatl origin. Two of these interpretations are:
- Tequis, which means “cutting.” The Tequila volcano area was rich in obsidian, known as tecatlis at that time. It was a stone that was carved to make hunting and cooking tools. That place began to be called Tecuila and later Tequila.
- Téquitl: Work, occupation, and Tlan: Place. It would be interpreted as the place where a series of tasks are performed, also referring to the previous area.
For a long time, the liquor was called “vino de mezcal” or “mezcal tequila”. According to historical outlines, it was Don Cenobio Sauza who gave it the definitive name of tequila.
From which Country is Tequila Originated?
The Certificate of Origin for tequila, granted since 1974, restricts the production of this beverage exclusively to the following regions in Mexico:
- Part of Nayarit
- A sector of Michoacán
- A zone in Guanajuato
- A specific territory in Tamaulipas.
To protect and promote the beverage, the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) was established in 1994. Additionally, in 2006, UNESCO declared the “agave landscape and ancient industrial facilities of Tequila” as a World Heritage Site.
Why Olmeca Altos Tequila?
Olmeca Altos Tequila is produced in protected areas under the Certificate of Origin, ensuring its high quality. We craft our tequila using 100% blue agave, cultivating the artisanal tradition of over 400 years.
¿Our goal? To preserve the historic processes that have made tequila one of the most consumed beverages in the world, while caring for the environment that allows us to produce it.