Blast from the past
1000 BC to 200 AD: First documentation of pulque appeared on stone walls around 200 AD.
Pulque, fermented agave sap, was sacred and only allowed to be consumed by the wealthy or during religious ceremonies, by priests and those they sacrificed to appease their gods.
1519: When Mexico was invaded by the Spanish, led by Hernando Cortez, the process of distillation came into play. The Spanish, who were so used to their cognacs and other distillates weren’t accustomed to Pulque and so changed the drink to suit their palates. And so with that, Mezcal is born!
Mezcal comes from the Nahuatl ‘Mexcalli’ meaning ‘cooked agave’.
Many believe that distilling in Mexico dates back before the Spanish conquest, and that the Filipinos brought their stills to Mexico.
However it is argued that distillation occurred prior to the invasion. Not enough evidence is available though, so I will remain factual with this brief summary of Tequila history.
Mid 1500s: First trade route was opened between Manila and Mexico, which led to building the first large scale distillery in the town of Tequila, in the state of Jalisco.
1521-1527: Spanish explorer and conqueror, Hernando Cortez, ordered grape vines from Spain and had thousands of them planted on the colonies.
1600s: Popularity of Mezcal had increased dramatically and wine producers in Spain weren’t happy, so the Spanish King forbade the establishment of vineyards in Mexico, but not of agave plantations.
1608: The first tax was levied on ‘Vino de Mezcal’ /Agave spirits.
1620s: Vino de Mezcal grew substantially throughout Mexico.