Through its 400 years of culture, Mexico’s national drink has become smooth and sophisticated
Through the years, tequila has become so strongly associated with its homeland that it has earned a reputation as “Mexico in a Bottle.” Made from the blue agave plant, it was first produced in the 17th century near the city of Tequila in the state of Jalisco. And two companies are offering visitors to Mexico unique experiences that are closely tied to tequila made in the region.
Located about 10 minutes outside of the city of Tequila, the Matices Hotel de Barricas also has its own tequila distillery, La Cofradia. The hotel rooms are shaped like agave barrels in the field and guests have access to tequila tastings, guided tours of the facility and visits to the on-site museum.
Mundo Cuervo, which offers a complete tequila experience, is located in the drink’s namesake city, around 37 miles northwest of Guadalajara. It offers rides on the Jose Cuervo Express train through the agave fields, lodging in the Hotel Solar de las Ánimas, the Hacienda El Centenario event space and a tour of La Rojeña, the flagship distillery of Cuervo and the oldest in Latin America.
A Sip of History
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 Mexican made 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.
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