HISTORY

Prehispanic

It was in1519, epoch of encounters and conquests, when Hernán Cortes tastes for the first time the Aztec beverage called "Aguamiel" or Honey water, the juice released from the fermentation of the agave which is an essential element in the Aztec sacred ceremonies.

According to the archeological remains dating back to the 1500's found in the western part of Mexico, the cultivation of the agave, source of Tequila, already existed. At that epoch, the agave was so important that it was epitomized by Mayahuel, goddess of fertility who fed her children with her 400 breasts.

Mayahuel

The legend says that Mayahuel was a young and beautiful Aztec goddess who abandoned her home to unite with the great god Quetzalcóatl. Both of them transformed into two branches of a tree with exuberant foliage in order not to be found by Mayahuel's evil grand-mother who would sacrifice them if ever they were found. The two lovers were eventually found. Quetzalcóatl survived but Mayahuel was devoured by the stars. After Mayahuel's remains were buried, the first plant of agave sprouted at the exact place of her burial but angry gods sparked a great storm and the agave plant was struck by lightning. After the storm, the long spiky leaves had been consumed by the fire exposing the core of the plant from which began to seep Mayahuel's blood as a sweet honey-like nectar with a seductive aroma. From that moment on, the nectar was transformed into a ritual beverage and a ceremonial offering to the Gods.

Tequila

However, Tequila as known today is the result of the blending of two cultures, the European and the Indigenous. The Europeans introduced the stills that allowed us to distil our native plant.

In the Seventeenth Century, during the time of the colony, the "agave wine" produced in the surroundings of the town of Tequila became famous for its quality. Soon it was known simply as Tequila and a formal industry started consolidating around the production of this beverage.

During the different epochs of the history of the Independence of Mexico, Tequila had to overcome the marginalization from which it was subject in benefit of foreign beverages. During the Mexican Revolution (1910), the popular values concerning Tequila returned and Tequila became a symbol of unity and national pride.

As of the 1940's-1950's, Tequila became an icon that represents Mexico worldwide. Over the years, the distillation processes improved and the producers took great care and love in preserving the elaboration traditions that enhance the qualities of the beverage.

Traditions

This tradition is something really surprising to people who are not from this city (Tequila, Jalisco), and who observe for the first time the "blessing" at nine o'clock at night. Every day, the priest comes out of the church, rings the bell three times and blesses the people. At that moment, everybody stands up, even the people who are walking in the street or anywhere else, even the couples who are talking in the main square, turn towards the church. People in their homes turn off the stereo, the television or stop doing whatever they were doing and stand up or kneel to receive the blessing. The people of this town firmly believe in the catholic religion. This could be the reason why the field workers entrust their activities to God and the Saints and place religious images in their fields. Before the beginning of the rainy season, the population carries the statue of the "Lord of Lightning" on their shoulders and makes a pilgrimage on the outskirts of the town asking Him to bless their fields with rain but to withhold storms so their crops may be abundant and fruitful. After harvesting their fields, the farmers go to the church and during the mass they offer their best corn as to thank God for His help.

Another typical custom is to celebrate Saint John and Saint Peter's days on June 24 and 29. This festivity is called "Los Cantaritos" [The Small Jugs]. The inhabitants of the region go to the fields and, in a family atmosphere, play with the small round jugs in which they put small pebbles which they use as rattles. As they play, the clay jugs break. This custom also includes young girls (not every young girl does this nowadays) who dress in red and imitate the red ticks that grow among the grass.

The Loma de la Virgen, the Loma de la Santa Cruz, Los Jarritos stream and the Cerro de Tequila, and the outskirts of the international highway are the places people prefer for this activity.

Once the festivities have ended, everything goes back to normal and the town regains its quietness. During the afternoons, the inhabitants sit outside on the sidewalk and spend time with their neighbors, as if they were family. In some neighborhoods, adults and children play "the Lotery" as a way of entertainment. It is during those leisure moments spent among neighbors that the anecdotes and legends know to the population, were born.

Legends

This legend narrates the tragic end of Friar Juan Calero or of the Holy Spirit. The legend has it that the evangelist went to the Tequila hill to pacify the indigenous population who had rouse to revolt and beg them to release the rebels. In response, he was riddled with arrows and stones, the bellicose Indians stripped him of his garments and hanged him on one of their idols.

The Legend of Mayahuel. Among the legends about places and events of Tequila, it is said that Huexicar protected a woman who cured ailments with mescal, hence, she was considered the one to have discovered mescal, the beverage now known as tequila. This woman whose name is unknown was called Mayahuel.

The Origin of Tequila

The recent findings of an open air mescal manufacture with its fermentation vats, ovens and mills on the El Caballito Cerrero Ranch confirmed that Amatitán is the cradle of Tequila according to a study carried out by Claudio Jimenez Vizcarra, historian and owner of this piece of land.

Therefore, the City Council requested from the State Congress that the World Day of Tequila be held in Amatitán on May 27.

Agave Landscape

On July 12, 2006, the region of Tequila was declared World Heritage site by the UNESCO.

Chronology of the Appellation of Origin

Chronological notes on the history of the Appellation of Origin of Tequila:

  • 1943

    References dated from 1943 cite that the businessmen of the region had made some negotiations to protect the name "Tequila" and obtain the exclusivity of its use. The discussions were centered on a long story that associates the industry and the region (region, town, mountain) with this beverage which has earned the appellation of "national drink".

  • 1958

    In 1958, Mexico signed the "Lisbon Agreement" for the protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration.

  • 1960´s

    In the decade of the 60's and the following years, Tequila became relatively famous around the world. Some countries such as Japan and Spain began to produce liquors which they also named "tequila".

  • 1972

    In 1972, the Law of Industrial Property, Chapter X, Title III, concerning the appellations of origin was reformed. On September 27, 1973, the CRT requested from the SIC to issue the General Declaration for the Protection of the Appellation of Origin "Tequila".

  • 1974

    On November 22, the request was favorably accepted and was published in the Official Journal on December 9, 1974.

    A treaty between Mexico and the U.S.A. established the Mexico would stop using the word "Bourbon" within its territory and the U.S.A. recognized Tequila as a distinctive and exclusive product of Mexico.

    On December 5, 1973, a decree was published in the Federal Register which recognized the Appellation of Origin Tequila. In Mexico, on May 6, 1974, a decision is published modifying numeral 2.1.1., of the Official Norm of Quality for Whisky, DGN-V-I-1969.

    On July 27, 1974, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada issued a decree by which the use of the name Tequila is restricted to the product coming from Mexico.

  • 1976

    On September 20, 1976, Tequilera la Gonzaleña requested the extension of the territory of the Appellation of Origin to some municipalities of Tamaulipas.

  • 1977

    On October 13, 1977, a favorable decision of such extension is published in the Official Journal.

  • 1978

    On April 13, 1978, a certificate of the registration of Tequila as Appellation of Origin is included in the "Registre International des Appellations D'Origine de l'Organisation Mondiale de la Propriété Intellectuelle (Génova, Suiza). [International Registry of Appellations of Origin of the World Organization of Intellectual Property, Geneva, Switzerland].

  • 1981

    On March 29, 1981, the Province of Quebec (Canada) sent an official letter in which it declares the recognition of the D.O.T. [Appellation of Orgin]

  • 1982

    On October 29, 1982, Denmark recognized the D.O.T.

  • 2003

    Master Plan for the historic conservation of old tequila manufactures.

  • 2004

    The research on old industrial plants in the region of Tequila carried out between 2003 -2004 led to the creation of a national catalogue.