A Sip of His­tory

Business Traveler (USA) - - GOOD LIFE -

The name tequila comes from the Nahu­atl word Te­cuilan or Te­qui­l­lan, which trans­lates into‘a place of work’or‘a place of cut­ting.’ The town­ship of San­ti­ago de Tequila was founded in 1530, by the Fran­cis­can Fray Juan Calero and the Span­ish Con­quis­ta­dor Cristóbal de Oñate, along with groups of na­tives.

King Fer­di­nand VI of Spain gave Jose An­to­nio Cuervo the first li­cense to make tequila, in 1758. By the early 1800s, Spain’s kings con­tin­ued to au­tho­rize the pro­duc­tion of tequila as long as producers paid their taxes. When Mex­ico gained its in­de­pen­dence in 1821, tequila be­came the of­fi­cial na­tional drink, and in 1824, the town was of­fi­cially classed as a villa. It was pop­u­lar in the United States dur­ing Pro­hi­bi­tion and was fea­tured in Mex­i­can­made movies in the 1930s and 1940s.

In 1974, the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment de­clared that the word tequila was its in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty, mak­ing it il­le­gal for other coun­tries to pro­duce or sell their own tequila. It also formed the Tequila Reg­u­la­tory Coun­cil to en­sure the drink’s qual­ity and pro­mote its cul­ture.

In 2003, Tequila was cho­sen as one of Mex­ico’s“magic vil­lages,”based on nat­u­ral beauty, cul­tural riches or his­tor­i­cal rel­e­vance. And the blue agave plant fields in Tequila, Jalisco, were de­clared a World Her­itage Site by UNESCO in 2006 to ac­knowl­edge their role in the rich his­tory of Mex­ico.

To­day, only tequila dis­tilled from blue agave har­vested in Jalisco and some parts of Gua­na­ju­ato, Na­yarit, Mi­choa­can and Ta­mauli­pas can use the name. The Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment also cre­ated Nor­mas Ofi­ciales Mex­i­canas (NOMs), which spec­ify what tequila is and how it must be made. Each bot­tle of tequila must have a NOM 4-digit num­ber on the bot­tle to show the name of the dis­tillery and en­sure its au­then­tic­ity. Mex­ico is home to more than 100 dis­til­leries that pro­duce nearly 1000 brands of tequila.

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