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History of Tequila / Timeline 
By Alfredo Soltero, Diageo, Nov 2002

100K B.C.? Volcano errupts in the state of Jalisco. The volcanic rock and ash fall in a several hundred mile radius

Jalisco, Mex into the adjacent states of Guanajuato, Michoacan and Nayarit. A new species of Mezcal plant is born (a metamorphosis): the Blue Agave.

1,000 B.C.? The legend of the discovery of the Agave is born.

Tenochtitlan The first alcoholic drink in the American continent: Pulque, is declared to be "a gift from the gods"

1,000 B.C. by the high priests; only they and the Aztec and Mayan leaders are allowed to drink it. It's consumed during sacrificial offerings to the gods and for medicinal use

500 A.D.? Factions of the Aztec & Toltec people inhabit the central states of Mexico: Jalisco, Guanajuato, etc.

1492 Columbus discovers the "New World."

1519 Hernan Cortez enters Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) and is greeted by Montezuma, the Aztec ruler.

Veracruz His men observe the Aztecs consuming Pulque: The fermented juice of the Mezcal plant

1525 ? The Spanish bring distilling pots to Mexico and begin cooking the Mezcal plant - the first distilled spirit in Mexico City the America's is born: Mezcal

1532 The Spanish explore Mexico to the north, they discover the area now known as the State of Jalisco. Here they discover a tribe of indians known as the "Tiquili" they are a faction of the Toltecs. Their village "Tequitlan," land of hard labor," is later shortened by the Spaniards to "Tequila."

1630 The Spanish Creoles are now cooking and distilling the Blue Agave plant, they call it "Vino de Mezcal"

Mexico Mezcal wine. This becomes the generic name for all distillates of the Mezcal plants. Many small taverns appear competing to sell their own creation of Mezcal wine. The taxes are used used to build the city of Guadalajara: The second largest city in Mexico.

1753 The Swedish Botanist Carl Linnaeus baptized the genus of Mezcal plants as "Agave" from the Greek word meaning admirable or noble.

1758 Jose Antonio Montaño y Cuervo, purchases an existing tavern, he names it: La Taberna de Cuervo.

Tequila, MX This becomes the first legally registered distillery in Mexico

1785 King Charles III orders a prohibition on the production and consumption of Mezcal wine due to Spain the fact that not enough taxes are being collected and due to the dramatic drop in sales of Brandy & Wine from Spain. This prohibition lasts ten years.

1795 King Charles IV grants large tracks of land and the first rights to commercially Tequila produce Mezcal wine to Jose Guadalupe Cuervo, son of Jose Antonio

1800's These were the most prolific years for the technology of Mezcal wine/Tequila

1810-1821 War of Independence: Mexico declares its independence from Spain

1836 American frontiersmen get their first taste of Mezcal wine during the war with Mexico over the territories of Texas. Remember the Alamo?

1846 Mexican American War: The US enters Mexico through Veracruz, once again American soldiers are exposed to the wonders of Mezcal wine

1861-1865 Civil war in the US causes a shortage of Whisky and moonshine. Mexican vendors sell Mezcal wine to the soldiers across the Rio Grande. At the same time these vendors pick up discardedWhiskey barrels and use them to store their Mezcal wine. This begins a future trend in aging

1862 Cinco de Mayo (May 5th): The battle of Puebla: France invades Mexico via Puebla. The French are overwhelmed by a ragtag Mexican peasant army assisted by the townspeople who throw sticks and stones, pots and pans from the rooftops of their homes. The French return and defeat the the rag-tag army and the insurrection. The French get their first taste of Mezcal/Tequila.

1873 Mezcal wine from Tequila, Jalisco is now officially called "Tequila" to distinguish itself from the Mezcal wines (Mezcal) produced in the South of Mexico. The first legal exports of Tequila to the US are sent through New Mexico and El Paso, TX

1880 Mexico's exports of Tequila are enhanced by the new railroad system to the North

1902 The Botanist Franz Weber categorizes the unique plant and names it: Agave Azul Tequilana Weber

1903 First bottling plant opens in Monterrey, Mex. Tequila is now bottled replacing demijhon containers

1910 The Mexican Revolution begins starting ten years of brutal war. Many Tequila distilleries close.

1916 WWI begins in Europe. US troops training along the US/Mexico border are consuming Tequila on the weekends in the small towns of Tijuana, Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and El Paso

1918 The Spanish Flu epidemic spreads across Europe & the US killing over 100 million people in five years. It travels to Mexico during its bloodiest revolution. Due to the lack of medicine and hospitals, doctors prescribe Tequila, lime and salt as a treatment against this flu to all ages; this starts a trend to ensure good health and the standard way to enjoy Tequila: with lime & salt, for your health

1919-1924 Probition laws force Americans across the border to buy their alcohol. Americans drink the much lower costing "Mexican Whiskey."

1930's The depression brings the Tequila industry to a standstill. Add to it the abolishment of the Prohibiton adding insult to injury.

1941 WWII Begins in Europe, distilleries are destroyed or closed causing a demand for Tequila. Tequila exports went from 21,000 liters (1941) to 4,500,000 by 1946 - most profits went to rectifiers

1945 War ends. Within months vodka, gin, cognac and whiskey is available in Europe. Ending the Tequila boom. Sales of Tequila dropped from 4.5 million to a mere 8,000 liters. The industry collapsed until the 1950's

1942 Don Julio Gonzalez at age 17 opens his distillery, La Primavera in Atotonilco el Alto, Jalisco

1950's & 60's Americans and Europeans flock to Mexico in search of Tequila causing the first major tourism boom

1956 Tequila producers ask the Mexican government for permission to dilute Tequila with other sugars as demand increases and Agave supplies deminish, creating the first Agave shortage and first "legal" mixtos

1964 Heublein, Inc. begins importing Jose Cuervo Tequilas into the US market. It is amber color with a sweet profile perfect for the American palate

1970's & 80's Tequila exports fluctuate to the economic conditions of the times, by 1980 the Tequila industry was growing

1993 - 1997 The first Tequila bars spring up in Cancun, Mexico City, Guadalajara and Tijuana. Starting a trend in California, Texas, Chicago and New York. People learn to appreciate the diversity of Tequila

1985 Don Julio Gonzales celebrates his 60 th. Birthday, his sons commemorate this date by creating a Tequila in his name, Don Julio. The guests ask if it will be available for sale. It launches in 1987 and sets the standard for all Tequilas in this category style.

1996-2000 Agave supplies in Mexico are diminishing rapidly due to the high demand for Tequila and the discovery of a worm-fungus disease that destroys 25% of the crop.

2001 Prices are at an all time high due to the popularity of Tequila in the US and around the world. Many distilleries close as a result of the Agave shortage and their ability to stay competetive in the marketplace. For once Tequila is receiving the recognition and price it deserves

2002 Prices remain steady, many [good] buys in the white and reposado categories. Consumers buy what tastes good, is popular and priced within a perceived value

2002 Don Julio celebrates 60 years of Tequila making

Click here to learn about Tequila Tasting - Crating the right tasting format

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