Tequila is a product that blends cultures. The process that derives it is also representative of an interrelation of the diverse productive processes that characterize the indigenous Prehispanic culture of Jalisco, Mexico and the introduction of the Spanish distillation process. This blend is present in all the aspects of Tequila, from its production means to its final consumption. Even though it cannot be affirmed whether the prehispanic culture distillated or not their beverages, it can be affirmed that they applied the fermentation process. Historically the fermentation practiced by the prehispanic tribes derived a kind of wine or beer. These beverages were mainly utilized for ceremonial and ritualistic purposes. Even though the fermentation process did not achieve complete compatibility with the existing industrial process, it did achieve positive results in relation to the curado. (A stage of fermentation ) The distillation process was introduced by the Spaniards on the 17th century. The distillation process was widely utilized in the territorial boundaries of the New Spain, formerly Mexico. It can be affirmed with certainty that the agave plant and the boiling process are by historical precedent, vernacular elements of the prehispanic culture of Tiquila. The traditional procedure was only affected at its final stage by the Spanish distillation process. Referring to the distillation process, it can be affirmed that its existence was achieved through the intervention of the Moors in the territories of Andalucia, Espana. The Moors imported into Spain the Arabic process which would eventually reach the New Continent. By acknowledging the historical merge it can be stated that Tequila represents a beverage of mixed identities.
The Tequila as a distillate product received
more intervention from Spain than from the vernacular prehispanic
tribes. The reason stands in the fact that Spain intervened in the
commercialization and land control of the New Spain.
In order to understand with precision the origin of
the Tequila, it is necessary to acknowledge its prehispanic roots. During
the prehispanic era, the Tiquila tribe from Amatitlan, learned its
essential process. The process utilized by them consisted of boiling and
fermenting the agave plant in order to obtain a ritualistic beverage only
consumed by religious authorities.
With the influence of the religious world through the
mission of spreading the word of God in the New Continent, the
missionaries also discovered the presence of Indigenous products such as
the maguey and the corn. Fray Francisco Ximenez, a Spanish monk, indicated
the importance of the product diversity obtained from the maguey plant
during the 16th century. In his observations he stated that the Mexcalmelt
was one of the most utilized varieties of mezcal. However, the Tepemexcall
was utilized more emphatically for religious practices. In the year 1651,
Jeronimo Hernandez, a Spanish doctor indicates that the Tequila beverage
was strictly utilized for medicinal purposes. Among the uses were
rheumatic cures achieved by rubbing tequila on the affected body parts.
(Encyclopedia de Mexico p. 66)
The only way to really learn tequila is to drink it, as many varieties as you can. One unique way to do this is at an organized tasting or tour. A good example for those in the San Diego area is the Annual Tequila Tour. See Details.http://www.sdsuntours.com/tequila.htm.html
It only takes saying..... Salud, Tequila !