Mayahuel was a beautiful young woman who lived among the stars of the heavens under the watchful eye of her grandmother, who was a tzitzimitl. The tzitzimimeh were the fierce guardian stars of the night who fought to prevent the sun from rising each morning. On one occasion, the god Quetzalcoatl talked Mayahuel into coming down to Earth with him while her grandmother slept. While making love, they turned into the branches of a forked tree. Quetzalcoatl became a green, lush branch full of leaves, and Mayahuel bloomed into a limb covered with flowers. When her grandmother woke up and saw that Mayahuel was gone, she called out the other tzitzimimeh to go down to earth with her and look for Mayahuel. When she found the couple, she cast a spell. The tree broke apart, and the blossoming branch was instantly charred. Still raging with fury, the grandmother commanded the other tzitzimimeh to tear the branch into splinters. Fortunately, the branch that was Quetzalcoatl remained unscathed. When the tzitzimimeh departed, Quetzalcoatl picked up Mayahuel’s remains, covered them with soil and watered them with his tears. From those remains sprouted more than 200 varieties of metl (maguey/agave). That was how Mayahuel became a goddess.
What's in a name?
When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in what is now Mexico, they saw several plants that they considered similar to the aloes of the Antilles. The West Indians called them “maguey.” That was how the confusion started about the different names for the same plant. The West Indian “maguey” was the name that stuck. The Nauhatl “metl” was lost in the brume of history. The scientific classification of the plant comes from the Greek word “agave,” meaning “admirable.”
Tequila is a peculiar mescal made exclusively from Tequilana Weber Blue Agave. To be an authentic tequila, it must contain a minimum of 51% Tequilana Weber Blue Agave. However, the best tequilas contain 100% blue agave and have no side effects after consumption. The name “tequila” also indicates where the product comes from, that is, the tequila region that encompasses the states of Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit and Tamaulipas.
The city we know today as Tequila, in the Mexican state of Jalisco, began as the village of Santiago de Tequila in 1530. Its name probably derives from the pre-Hispanic obsidian craftsmen who inhabited that area and were called Tecuilos. The first distillate (precursor to today’s tequila) was called “Vino Mezcal de Tequila” and was produced in that area.
From Mexico to the world
The marketing of mescal wine from Tequila grew steadily from 1621 to 1930, when it experienced its first boom in the wake of the Mexican Revolution. The very “mexicanness” of the spirit identified it deeply with the incipient nationalism promoted by the new revolutionary government.
Currently, the United States is the main export market. However, inroads are being made in Asia and Europe. Tequila made from 100% blue agave is as noble and precious as cognac. Those who know have experienced its sweet, earthy aroma, admired its lovely legs running down the side of a brandy snifter and savored it slowly, allowing its complex notes to dance upon their palates. It’s the milk of the goddess!