Tequila is an alcoholic drink made from the distilled
agave plant. The general group of alcoholic drinks made from the
agave plant are referred to as mescal, of which tequila is a
specific and regulated form.
Agave is not, as is commonly thought, a cactus, but
is actually a large succulent more closely related to lilies. There
are hundreds of species of agave, many of which are radically
different from one another. One of the most well-known species of
agave is the century plant, often found in gardens throughout the
world. Tequila is made from a species of agave called blue agave, or
The best tequilas are made solely from agave and are
usually labeled as being 100%.
History of Tequila
Many archaeologists believe that the agave plant has
been cultivated by humans for nearly 9,000 years, and the first
evidence for an alcoholic drink made from it dates back to the time
of the Spanish Conquistadors nearly 500 years ago, who distilled the
native pulque drink into a stronger liquor.
By the 17th century, tequila was being mass produced
and sold throughout Mexico. The modern tequila has its origins
somewhat later, around 1800, when tequila began to be mass produced
using methods that are almost identical to those used by many modern
producers. Some of these original batches of tequila have survived
and are still available for sale.
In the past decade, tequila has seen increased
international popularity, with worldwide sales skyrocketing.
The popularized inclusion of a worm in the bottom of
a bottle of tequila has its origins in the 1940s, when it was
introduced as a marketing ploy. The worm is meant to be the larvae
of a moth that sometimes infests the agave plant, whose presence
denoted a sub-par quality tequila. In recent years, tequila
manufacturers have struggled to remove the myth of the worm from the
minds of their drinkers, as they attempt to improve the image of the
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