Agave was used extensively by Mesoamerican cultures such as the Aztecs for religious and medicinal purposes as well as for furnishing many goods used in daily life (Bye, 1993). The Aztecs (Mexica) considered agave and pulque (an alcoholic beverage derived from it) to be sacred (Miller and Taube 1993). The plants were introduced to Europe in the 16th century as a result of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico. The first tequila factory was established by Don Pedro Sanches de Tagle, Marquis of Altamira in 1600; Jose Antonio Cuervo, began agave cultivation in 1758 and became the first licensed manufacturer of Tequila (Valensuela Zapata & Nabhan 2003). Though spirits derived from Agave became an important source of colonial tax revenue, it was not until the 1980s that Tequila became popular outside of Mexico (Dalton 2005; Valensuela Zapata & Nabhan 2003 Morh 1993).
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Bye, Robert (1993). The Role of Humans in the Diversification of Plants in Mexico. in “Biological Diversity of Mexico: Origins and Distribution” TP Ramamoorthy, Robert Bye, Antonio Lot and John Fa eds. Oxford University Press.
Dalton, Rex (2005). Alcohol &science: Saving the Agave. Nature 438 (22 December): 1070-1071.
Mohr, Gary M. Jr. (1999) "Blue Agave and Its Importance in the Tequila Industry," Ethnobotanical Leaflets, 1999(3): Article 2.
Miller, Mary; and Karl Taube (1993). The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya: An Illustrated Dictionary of Mesoamerican Religion. Thames & Hudson.
Valensuela Zapata, Ana Guadalupe & Gary Paul Nabhan (2003). Tequila: A Natural and Cultural History. University of Arizona Press.