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The History of Tequila

December 31st, 2012 Seasonal

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Mexican liquor? Chances are, it's tequila - and for good reason! It was the first commercially-produced liquor in all of North America, and its roots go even further back to its cousin mezcal and beyond.

The earliest known relative of tequila is a drink called pulque, which natives in pre-Hispanic times made by fermenting the sap of local maguey plants. From there, it's been speculated that the Conquistadors of the 1500s took time to distill pulque into something stronger. Over the course of several years, that drink became mezcal wine. If you've ever had mezcal before, you've no doubt noted how similar it tastes to tequila - somewhat more leathery and smoky, but with the same distinct bite after taking a drink. This eventually evolved into tequila as we know it today.

The drink saw a drastic rise in popularity around World War II, which led to efforts in Mexico to regulate its production in the mid-1940s. Any drink calling itself tequila must be made with at least 51 percent agave tequiliana Weber. However, most of the best tequilas out there proudly state that they are made made from 100 percent blue agave. The Chamber of Tequila Producers is a not-for-profit entity that helps regulate the industry.

With such a rich history, undoubtedly a few misconceptions have popped up. Perhaps the most pervasive is the notion of the worm-in-the-bottle. Despite what many think, a worm is never placed inside a tequila bottle - only in some mezcal brands. So drink up! There aren't any leftover bits of worm floating around in your tequila bottle.