Tequila History: Part Two

Blue Weber Agave before being harvested and turned into 100% de Agave Tequila

And here continues the history of Tequila. In June, we explained the roots of Tequila in the Aztec civilization and how the Spaniards distilled agave spirits to create a brandy-substitute. Now let’s see how Tequila came to be known as ‘Tequila” and the Mexican government’s promotion of the spirit.

The 1700s to 1800s AD: 
In 1758, the King of Spain granted Senior José Antonio Cuervo the rights to cultivate land in Mexico, laying the foundation of the Jose Cuervo brand, the largest producer and exporter of Tequila today.  In 1858, Don Cenobio Sauza fell in love with agave farming, founding Sauza Tequila and beginning the great rivalry between Sauza and Cuervo. During the mid-1800s, the Blue Weber agave was identified as the ideal plant for Tequila and insisting the spirit can only be made from this strain of agave.  Previously, various types of agave species were used; today, many of those agave species are distilled into mezcal. In 1873, Tequila was first exported to and made its debut in the United States, thanks to the work of the original Tequila families.  After Mexico gained independence in 1823, Tequila became a symbol of national pride, as European spirits were cast aside. The popularity of the spirit grew outside of Mexico as Prohibition in the US pushed American imbibers to smuggle the agave spirit into the US, and again during World War II when the decreased supply of European spirits.  As a result of this growing demand, the Mexican government created new regulations and two government bodies to oversee production and exportation.

The 1900s AD:
Mexico, aware of Tequila’s international renown, declared the term “Tequila” as its intellectual property through various treaties and international agreements, giving the country the unique right as the only country with legal rights to produce “Tequila”.  With Mexico now the sole exporter of Tequila, the industry boomed. To protect the fast-growing industry becoming symbolic of the country, the Mexican government instituted regulations ensuring a high level of quality in Tequila production. One of the most important rules is the guidance that, to be called Tequila, the spirit must contain at least 51% Blue Weber Agave. Agave-distilled spirits with only 51% Blue Weber Agave are called mixto – the remaining 49% of the spirit is made from low-quality sugars.

A true, high-quality Tequila should be made with 100% Blue Weber Agave. Tres Agaves is proud to use single-source, 100% de Agave Tequila. Now you’ve read the history of Tequila, how it grew from its prehispanic, ritualistic roots, to become the symbol of Mexican national pride it is today. It’s time to sip some yourself! Find our 100% de Agave Tequila near you.

History of Tequila: Part One

Man harvesting agave

In the United States, Tequila is a beloved and revered spirit. Oftentimes, Tequila is imbibed during festivities and fiestas, either alone, with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lime juice, or in a refreshing margarita. But where did Tequila come from and who created it? Let’s dive into the history of Tequila, beginning with the spirit’s origin story.

1000 BC to 200 AD:

The story of Tequila begins with the Aztecs, a civilization native to Mesoamerica, whose advancements in social, political, and financial areas were among the greatest on the American continent.

The Aztecs were using the fibrous leaves of the maguey, a partiocular species of agave, ’to make clothing, rope, and mats. The sharp tips of the plant were used as needles.

Eventually, the Aztecs learned to ferment agave sap into pulque. Pulque became so important that it became quasi religious. In fact, two gods were created because of it, Mayahuel and Patecatl.  Mayahuel is the goddess of the maguey (one specie of agave) and Patecatl is the god of pulque. The Aztecs had many gods, but few for agricultural products – like maize and pulque – telling just how important agave and pulque were to this ancient civilization. Unsurprisingly, pulque came to hold prominence in religious ceremonies and rituals, with only priests being allowed to drink it.

1400s and 1500s AD:

When the invading Spaniards ran out of their precious brandy, they turned to the local fermented spirit, pulque. The European continent had been practicing distillation for centuries, and the arriving Spaniards turned to pulque in their search for a native alcoholic drink. As a result of distillation using semi-primitive mud stills, agave wine became the first indigenous distilled spirit.

 Agave wine evolved into Tequila, named after the town in the state of Jalisco.  Tequila was the site of the first large-scale distillery, built in the early 1600s by the Marquis of Altamira.  Many archaeologists have identified prehispanic stills in Amatitán, a town outside of Tequila, suggesting Amatitán is the true historic birthplace of Tequila.

Check back in soon to learn more about the history of Tequila, as it grew from its humble beginning in Amatitán to become the savored spirit known worldwide.

Mexico on to the Round of 16

Even falling 3-0 to Sweden was not enough to hold back the Mexico National Team from advancing to the 2018 World Cup Round of 16.  Thanks to South Korea’s 2-0 win over defending 2014 World Cup Champions, Germany, Mexico will move from the Group Stage into the Round of 16, facing Brazil the morning of Monday, July 2nd.   Mexico will have to deliver strong defensive play in order to best Neymar and the rest of the Brazil National Team.

Lucky for us, we don’t have to worry about playing soccer next week.  The only hard part is deciding which cocktail to drink while watching the game.  We’ve taken care of that for you; grab some Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila and cocktail-ready Tres Agaves Agave Nectar and make your own Cowboy Coffee to get you in the zone for Mexico vs. Brazil.

Mexico’s World Cup Magic

Church Flag

We at Tres Agaves hope you all had a great weekend.  On Sunday, we thought the Tequila Volcano in Jalisco was going to blow when the ground started rumbling…but that didn’t last long.  An earthquake was registered in Mexico City at the same time as the people of Mexico City were celebrating watching the Mexico National Team seal its 1-0 win over Germany in the team’s first 2018 World Cup match.  Yes, Germany did win the last World Cup in 2014, so we wouldn’t be surprised if our friends in Mexico City were up to some earth-shaking celebrating.  Hats off to the Mexico National Team superstars! 
 
Not only does Mexico produce all-star World Cup soccer, but we are proud to produce an all-star lineup of our own.  Take our Tres Agaves 100% de agave Tequila and our Tres Agaves Organic Margarita Mix and whip yourself up a Minty Strawberry Margarita for the ultimate goal-celebrating cocktail.  We know we will be enjoying ours when we watch Mexico repeat more World Cup magic against the South Korea National Team this coming Saturday at 8:30am PST.  ¡Salud!

Reintroducing Tequila Made in Tequila

In November of 2016 we launched the multi-platform “Tequila Made in Tequila” campaign, aimed to introduce American consumers to the magical place that is Tequila, Mexico. The campaign, created by our friends at Butler Shine, Stern & Partners (BSSP), highlights the color and vivacity of the region and its people.

You can check out our website (which you are already on), videos on Vimeo, YouTube, Tres TV, and our social feeds (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook). If you like what you see, make sure to subscribe and stay tuned—there is more coming down the pike.

The Tequila Valley is a place where the spirit manifests itself well beyond the product in our bottles. We hope that you will experience it for yourself online and in person. ¡Salud!

Sugar Skulls

A typical sugar skull

Sugar skulls–Calaveras de Azucar in Spanish–are a mainstay of Dia de los Muertos festivities.  It may seem curious Catholic country has a tradition that incorporates such dark, seemingly pagan elements. The truth is that Dia de los Muertos, much like Halloween, emerged as a fusion of indigenous traditions and Catholic holidays & ceremonies. The sugar skull is a perfect example.

Skulls had long been featured in Aztec rituals. In the pagan precursor to Day of the Dead—a month long ritual beginning in August and worshiping a god named Mictecacihuatl—human skulls were used as trophies of victory, and as a means of honoring the dead.

In the 17th century, decorative sugar art was imported to Mexico by Italian missionaries. Mexico was itself a major sugar producer and religious officials found it difficult to produce or import the expensive bronze or gold adornments that were popular in Europe. They soon learned to make their own sugary decorations for Churches & religious festivals. The first accounts detail sugar lambs & angels on the lesser altars of Mexican churches.

When Catholic Spanish authorities tried to Christianize the festival worship of Mictecacihuatl by moving it to coincide with All-Saints day & All-Souls day (Nov. 1st & 2nd respectively), the skull worship came along for the ride. And with their newfound prowess creating and decorating religious figurines, the Calavera de Azucar was born.

The skulls aren’t just pretty to look at—they have their own ceremony & meaning. A dead person’s name is on the forehead, and at the end of the festival a relative consumes it, symbolizing unity with the deceased.

And the Calaveras aren’t the only place that skulls are used in the celebration. Another ritual involves the use of Calacas, which are wooden masks in the shape of a skull. A family will get together, put on the masks and dance in memory of their friends & relatives.

You can see an example off some calacas here