Contrary to popular belief, tequila is not made from cacti. Tequila is actually made from the Blue Agave plant, which is actually a member of the lily family. Tequila is exclusively produced in five regions of Mexico but is consumed (sometimes with ridiculous consequences) all over the world. Ole!
No other liquid is surrounded by as many stories, myths, legends, lore and headaches as tequila and its sister beverage mezcal. While plenty have sampled various breeds of this zesty spirit in the form of a margarita, many more are discovering that good tequila is a drink to be enjoyed like a fine cognac or scotch. Many have put away the salt shakers and sliced limes (they drink it warm in Mexico) —they sit down, relax and savour the taste.
The word tequila itself is a mystery. It is said to be an ancient Nahuatl term. The Nahuatl were the original people who lived in the area. The word means “the place of harvesting plants.” But elsewhere in the world it means “a good night not remembered.”
Tequila was first produced in the 16th century near the location of the city of Tequila, which was not officially established until 1666. The Aztec people had previously made a fermented beverage from the agave plant, which they called octli – later called pulque – long before the Spanish arrived in 1521. When the Spanish conquistadors ran out of their own brandy, they began to distill agave to produce one of North America’s first indigenous distilled spirits.
Some 80 years later, around 1600, Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle, the Marquis of Altamira, began mass-producing tequila at the first factory in the territory of modern-day Jalisco. By 1608, the colonial governor of Nueva Galicia had begun to tax his products. Spain’s King Carlos IV granted the Cuervo family the first license to commercially make tequila. (And bring a new kind of hangover to the world.)
Don Cenobio Sauza, founder of Sauza Tequila and Municipal President of the Village of Tequila from 1884–1885, was the first to export tequila to the United States and shortened the name from “Tequila Extract” to just “Tequila” for the American markets. Don Cenobio’s grandson, Don Francisco Javier, gained international attention for insisting that “there cannot be tequila where there are no agaves!” His efforts led to the practice that real tequila can come only from the State of Jalisco… well then, Jalisco here we come… Cheers!
For some enjoyable reading have a look at this Forbes Magazine article on 5 ways tequila is good for you.
Information sourced from Los Cabos Magazine – Issue #8 – October 2002 & Wikipedia