History of Tequila

2 comments by RJ Peristere

Line up some shots! We all grimace as the warm tequila slides down our throats as we try our best to hold it down. We all remember our first experience with Tequila...for most of us it was unpleasant. A warm shot of Jose Cuervo or the like. Tequila is much more than shots and the history of tequila shows a dedication to craft.

This spirit has grown up tremendously not only in the American psyche but also in the craft and quality across the board. But where did this delicious spirit originate from? Who makes it now? And who makes the best?

Where was Tequila Invented?

As far back as A.D. 200, the Aztecs in Mexico had been drinking fermented agave and enjoying a nice buzz. Prior to the creation of Tequila, the spirit produced from the agave plant was known as Mezcal. Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage that is derived from any type of agave plant. Or in layman terms, a liquor that is made from agave. Traditionally, Mezcal is made in Mexico and is known for its smokey flavor. Mezcal is specifically derived from the heart of the agave plant, known as the pena. If you want to learn more about the creation and history of Mezcal we have written a comprehensive History of Mezcal.

Tequila, History of Tequila, Pena

As the creation of Mezcal moved into the highlands of Tequila, a distinct taste began to emerge. Likely due to the high elevation and the cultivation of Blue Agave. The first known crafter of tequila as we know it was the Marquis of Altamira who built the first large scale production of a Tequila Distillery.

We name dropped him before, But Don Jose de Antonio Cuervo was the first officially licensed person in Mexico to granted the permission to produce Tequila legally. His Tequila distillary would eventually become the Jose Cuervo brand that we all have a certain experience with...good or bad.

As the popularity of Tequila grew throughout the 20th century the Mexican Government decided to step in and establish the Tequila Regulatory Council. Their role was to maintain the quality and craft of all Tequila exported from the Jalisco region. For example there are rigorous tests to make sure if a bottle claims to be 100% Blue Agave, then there are strict rules to maintain such purity.

Blue Agave, History of Tequila, Tequila Jalisco

What are the Three Types of Tequila?

Generally the color of Tequila comes from the time spent inside of the Oak Barrels where it is fermented. There are traditionally three types of Tequila that you can buy at the store.

tequila, bottle, cactus


Blanco is a Tequila that is aged the least amount of time and is generally a clear or silver color.


Reposado or Rested Tequila is a longer aged version of Blanco that takes on a darker color due to time spent in the Oak Barrel


Anejo or Aged Tequila spends the most amount of time in the aging process. Anejo is generally the most expensive of the Tequila varieties.

What does the Tequila Regulatory Council do?

As mentioned the Tequila Regulatory Council is responsible for maintaining the quality of Tequila across the board. First the monitor the production process to ensure that all distillation is performed in the proper way and that no short cuts or additives are added that could lessen the brand of Tequila.

It's a self governing board that also makes sure foreign bodies don't attempt to use the term tequila without the proper steps.

What is the Agave Plant?

The Agave plant is a large blue plant that is native to Mexico. It is primarily used to make Tequila, however you can also extract Aloe Vera from the large branches.

agave, cactus, succulent

What Proof is Tequila?

Tequila is usually around 40% alcohol. However, it is possible to find tequilas with lower or higher alcohol proof depending on the aging.

Interested in other Cocktail History?

Is the Coupe Cocktail glass modeled after Marie Antonette's breast? Or did Winston Churchill's mom invent The Manhattan?


  • Author

    Would love to try your tequila.

  • Taylor Abrams

    It’s interesting to know that after being matured for a longer period in an oak barrel, Blanco becomes Reposado, or Rested Tequila. Actually, I’m on a Christmas mission to give Dad the ultimate gift – a top-notch, additive-free tequila blanco. He’s been a tequila enthusiast forever, and this year, it’s all about elevating his sipping experience with something pure and smooth. I reckon finding the best one is like wrapping up a taste of Mexico with a bow and delivering it straight to his festive spirit. https://drinkvalor.com/about-page/

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