History of Tequila / Timeline
By Alfredo Soltero, Diageo, Nov 2002
100K B.C.? Volcano errupts in the state of Jalisco. The volcanic rock
and ash fall in a several hundred mile radius
Jalisco, Mex into the adjacent
states of Guanajuato, Michoacan and Nayarit. A new species of Mezcal plant is
born (a metamorphosis): the Blue Agave.
1,000 B.C.? The legend
of the discovery of the Agave is born.
Tenochtitlan The first alcoholic drink
in the American continent: Pulque, is declared to be "a
gift from the gods"
1,000 B.C. by the high priests; only they and the Aztec and Mayan leaders
are allowed to drink it. It's consumed during sacrificial offerings to the gods
and for medicinal use
A.D.? Factions of the Aztec & Toltec people inhabit the central
states of Mexico: Jalisco, Guanajuato, etc.
1492 Columbus discovers the "New
Cortez enters Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) and is greeted by Montezuma, the Aztec
Veracruz His men observe the Aztecs consuming Pulque: The fermented
juice of the Mezcal plant
1525 ? The Spanish bring distilling pots to
Mexico and begin cooking the Mezcal plant - the first distilled spirit in Mexico
City the America's is born: Mezcal
1532 The Spanish explore Mexico to
the north, they discover the area now known as the State of Jalisco. Here they
discover a tribe of indians known as the "Tiquili" they are
a faction of the Toltecs. Their village "Tequitlan," land of hard labor," is
later shortened by the Spaniards to "Tequila."
1630 The Spanish
Creoles are now cooking and distilling the Blue Agave plant, they call it "Vino
Mexico Mezcal wine. This
becomes the generic name for all distillates of the Mezcal plants. Many small
taverns appear competing to sell their own creation of Mezcal wine. The taxes
are used used to build the city of Guadalajara: The second largest city in Mexico.
1753 The Swedish Botanist Carl Linnaeus baptized the genus
of Mezcal plants as "Agave" from
the Greek word meaning admirable or noble.
1758 Jose Antonio Montaño
y Cuervo, purchases an existing tavern, he names it: La Taberna de Cuervo.
Tequila, MX This becomes the first legally
registered distillery in Mexico
1785 King Charles III orders a prohibition
on the production and consumption of Mezcal wine due to Spain the fact that not
enough taxes are being collected and due to the dramatic drop in sales of Brandy & Wine
from Spain. This prohibition lasts ten years.
Charles IV grants large tracks of land and the first rights to commercially Tequila
produce Mezcal wine to Jose Guadalupe Cuervo, son of Jose Antonio
were the most prolific years for the technology of Mezcal wine/Tequila
of Independence: Mexico declares its independence from Spain
frontiersmen get their first taste of Mezcal wine during the war with Mexico
over the territories of Texas. Remember the Alamo?
American War: The US enters Mexico through Veracruz, once again American soldiers
are exposed to the wonders of Mezcal wine
war in the US causes a shortage of Whisky and moonshine. Mexican vendors sell
Mezcal wine to the soldiers across the Rio Grande. At the same time these vendors
pick up discardedWhiskey barrels and use them to store their Mezcal wine. This
begins a future trend in aging
1862 Cinco de Mayo (May 5th): The battle of Puebla: France
invades Mexico via Puebla. The French are overwhelmed by a ragtag Mexican peasant
army assisted by the townspeople who throw sticks and stones, pots and pans from
the rooftops of their homes. The French return and defeat the the rag-tag army
and the insurrection. The French get their first taste of Mezcal/Tequila.
1873 Mezcal wine from Tequila, Jalisco is now officially called "Tequila" to
distinguish itself from the Mezcal wines (Mezcal) produced in the South of Mexico.
The first legal exports of Tequila to the US are sent through New Mexico and
El Paso, TX
1880 Mexico's exports
of Tequila are enhanced by the new railroad system to the North
Botanist Franz Weber categorizes the unique plant and names it: Agave Azul Tequilana
1903 First bottling plant opens in Monterrey, Mex. Tequila is now
bottled replacing demijhon containers
1910 The Mexican Revolution begins
starting ten years of brutal war. Many Tequila distilleries close.
1916 WWI begins in Europe. US troops training
along the US/Mexico border are consuming Tequila on the weekends in the small
towns of Tijuana, Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and El Paso
1918 The Spanish Flu epidemic spreads
across Europe & the US killing
over 100 million people in five years. It travels to Mexico during its bloodiest
revolution. Due to the lack of medicine and hospitals, doctors prescribe Tequila,
lime and salt as a treatment against this flu to all ages; this starts a trend
to ensure good health and the standard way to enjoy Tequila: with lime & salt,
for your health
1919-1924 Probition laws force Americans across the border
to buy their alcohol. Americans drink the much lower costing "Mexican Whiskey."
depression brings the Tequila industry to a standstill. Add to it the abolishment
of the Prohibiton adding insult to injury.
Begins in Europe, distilleries are destroyed or closed causing a demand for Tequila.
Tequila exports went from 21,000 liters (1941) to 4,500,000 by 1946 - most profits
went to rectifiers
1945 War ends. Within months vodka, gin, cognac and
whiskey is available in Europe. Ending the Tequila boom. Sales of Tequila dropped
from 4.5 million to a mere 8,000 liters. The industry collapsed until the 1950's
Julio Gonzalez at age 17 opens his distillery, La Primavera in Atotonilco el
1950's & 60's Americans and Europeans flock
to Mexico in search of Tequila causing the first major tourism boom
1956 Tequila producers ask
the Mexican government for permission to dilute Tequila with other sugars as
demand increases and Agave supplies deminish, creating the first Agave shortage
and first "legal" mixtos
Inc. begins importing Jose Cuervo Tequilas into the US market. It is amber color
with a sweet profile perfect for the American palate
1970's & 80's Tequila
exports fluctuate to the economic conditions of the times, by 1980 the Tequila
industry was growing
1993 - 1997 The
first Tequila bars spring up in Cancun, Mexico City, Guadalajara and Tijuana.
Starting a trend in California, Texas, Chicago and New York. People learn to
appreciate the diversity of Tequila
1985 Don Julio Gonzales celebrates
his 60 th. Birthday, his sons commemorate this date by creating a Tequila in
his name, Don Julio. The guests ask if it will be available for sale. It launches
in 1987 and sets the standard for all Tequilas in this category style.
1996-2000 Agave supplies in Mexico are
diminishing rapidly due to the high demand for Tequila and the discovery of a
worm-fungus disease that destroys 25% of the crop.
2001 Prices are at an all time high due to the popularity
of Tequila in the US and around the world. Many distilleries close as a result
of the Agave shortage and their ability to stay competetive in the marketplace.
For once Tequila is receiving the recognition and price it deserves
2002 Prices remain steady, many [good] buys in the white and reposado
categories. Consumers buy what tastes good, is popular and priced within a perceived
Julio celebrates 60 years of Tequila making
Click here to learn about Tequila
Tasting - Crating the right tasting format