About Tequila About Tequila

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The history of Tequila is a combination of fact and myth with the two so intertwined that no one knows what is real and what is folklore. But, no matter what, the stories add to the appeal of this "nectar of the gods."

Much of the history of Tequila is from Aztec mythology, and like many myths, it is full of good and evil, love and heartbreak. The story begins with Tzinzimiti, the Goddess of darkness. She was hated and feared because she devoured all of the sunshine and light from the villages of the native Mexican tribes. In order to keep her at bay, the native Mexicans made human sacrifices to her. Quetzalcoatl was an Aztec feathered serpent who ascended to the sky to destroy the evil goddess. Along his journey, he encountered Mayahuel, Tzinzimiti's granddaughter. The two fell in love, as serpents and granddaughters of goddesses are prone to do. They then returned to earth to hide as trees so they couldn't be found. However, their plan was flawed and the evil Grandmother, after a long battle, killed Mayahuel who died in the arms of her true love. Quetzalcoatl buried her and a beautiful Agave grew on top of her burial site. The pointy leaves are to protect her from falling objects. The 400 thorns symbolize Mayahuel's 400 breasts (did we mention this "fact" before?). After burying his beloved, Quetzalcoatl returns to the sky to kill Tzinzimiti and return the sunlight to the earth. In order to alleviate Quetzalcoatl's pain, the other gods gave the Agave a liquid that, when drunk, would comfort and erase painful memories. And those who drink from the Agave will live happily ever after.

In the 16th century, Spaniards were taking over the region and using the Agave for building roofs, making needles, pins, and nails. Dried leaves were used for fuel while its ashes were used for soap, which helped to heal wounds. The Spanish liked their Spanish wines and liquors so they banned the production of native spirits. Despite the ban, clandestine production continued. During the 17th century, native spirits were seen as a revenue opportunity so spirits from the Agave were allowed but heavily taxed. Tequila became the first export of Jalisco and tax revenue funded civil projects including aqueducts and government buildings. The revenue from Tequila made many Tequila producers politically influential. During the middle of the 19th century, many Tequila producers supported the liberals during Mexico's civil war. Good choice - the liberals won. Tequila suffered a blow when the railroads came to Mexico in the late 1800's. The railroads made European wines readily available to the masses and Tequila was relegated to the "drink of the lower classes." Tequila enjoyed resurgence during the Mexican Revolution when all things Mexican represented patriotism. In the 1930's, it was found that Tequila was the "best medicine" against the Spanish flu epidemic that battered Northern Mexico. And, the rest, as they say, is history.