At TRES we love everything TEQUILA! The history, the legends, the culture, the production, the flavors…need we say more? Explore the world of Tequila with us and keep up to date on all of the events we offer for the Tequila Aficionado!
Let’s get started with some fun Tequila myths & historical facts:
Everyone, meet Mayahuel. Her claim to fame is that she walked outside one day and discovered a bunch of birds, or were they rabbits? She discovers a bunch of small animals suckling the nectar from a, previously unkown, plant’s heart which had been struck with lightning. Through some divine connection she realizes that these animals are drunk and have become so by way of this sweet drink! The new wonder plant is given a name, and boom we got Magueys. Mayahuel’s mate is Petacatl, the god of fermentation and to him she bears 400 children, the Centzon Totochtin gods of drunkennes.
So up in the heavens she stays, keeping watch over Magueys and mature wombs that bring life. She passes her days, no doubt, crocheting and playing Gin-Rummi with her wicked grandmother, Tzitzimitl.
Diagonal screen transition to Earth: Queztalcoatl, god of remembrance and self -reflection sits remembering and self-reflecting on the days when humans could get drunk. Ascend to the heavens, he must, and steal back this divine pass time, he will.
But wait, monkey wrench! He instantly falls in love with the 400 breastéd Mayahuel and steals her instead from Grandmama. They hasten back to Earth and guise themselves as branches of a forked tree. Romantic embrace and “pan the camera to the wind rustling leaves.” They love– in secret. The plan works, for a bit, until the grandmother’s star-demon-henchmen, Tzitzimime find the tree. The light devouring demons recognize Mayahuel and rip her to shreds. Exit Tzitzimime stage right. An anguished Queztalcoatl gathers up his love’s remains and buries them.
From Mayahuel’s earthen grave sprouts the “first” Maguey. This new growth does little to stop Queztalcoatl’s bleeding heart. Sorrowfully he sits. Taking pity on his broken heart the gods strike down Mayahuel’s Maguey with lightning. In an instant, the plant’s nectar is fermented. Seeing this liquid pour forth from her grave, Queztalcoatl decides to drink it. Balm for the broken hearted! Queztalcoatl’s pain is no more.
Tequila’s history begins some 4 centuries ago when North American natives were brewing what can rightly be considered Tequila’s Grandfather, Pulque, or as we like to call it: Tequila, in beer form, kind of. It is an important distinction to make that Pulque is made from the fermented sap of various Magueys where as Tequila is made by distilling juices from the cooked heart of only 1 species of Agave.
Pulque provided the Aztecs with a highly coveted state of transcendent consciousness; known in modern times as alcohol intoxication. Believing the drink to provide a spiritual communion with the gods, this altered state was offered as an unrestricted privilege to high members of Aztec society, that is until society was overthrown by the Spanish and consumption became widespread.
The science of distillation was not practiced in the Americas until the mid 16th century, sometime after the Spanish arrival. More out of necessity than grace, the Spanish shared their knowledge of distillation after their supply of favorite Brandies and Sherries became too costly for import. Using juice from the region’s plentiful Agave plant, Spanish immigrants began distilling a crude version of modern day Mezcal, a direct forerunner to Tequila.
By the late 18th century, Vino de Mezcal distillation was legalized gaining the Spanish government a much needed tax revenue source. Mezcal production would wax and wane over the next 100 years following the boom and bane of war and political strife through Mexico; an inevitable consequence of Mexico’s unrest which would continue through the 20th century.
With each batch of cooked Agave piñas depleting the area’s weak forestry supply, Mezcal producers’ need for innovation was eminent. About the turn of the 19th century, the industry saw a shift in cooking methods from fire pits to above ground ovens. The practice of cooking Agave piñas with steam still continues today. Also during this period, Mezcal producers from the town of Tequila had began distinguishing their product as just Tequila.
Another improvement made during that time, was the preferred use of the Agave Tequilana Weber variedad Azul. Identified by German botanist, Franz Weber in an 1896 survey of Mexican Flora, this species was marked as having the ideal sugar content for Tequila production. Don Cenobio Sauza is commonly credited with being the first to use this species exclusively.
The 20th century began a modern era of production. Government agencies were created to oversee the enforcement of new regulations. Laws governing how Tequila is produced and by whom were passed improving the image and overall quality. These efforts culminated in the 1978 establishment of the Normas Oficiales Mexicana, or NOM laws which protect every aspect of Tequila production from growth to bottle.