While booze has been produced since before recorded time, distillation only really got popular in the Middle Ages. Distilled grapes for brandy and distilled honey for mead weren’t a far cry from the wine and beer everywhere else. Whiskey was the first alcohol refined from grain. The first “water of life” came from Ireland and Scotland, which we can see from the Gaelic roots of the word. And aren’t we glad they got the idea to do it. If not, they’d have taken over the world and we wouldn’t be able to get drunk today.
Then, there was the brilliant divergence of many cultures creating more potent ways to tie one on. Obviously our preference is tequila, but the history of spirits unites all booze-hounds. Despite your liquor of choice, they all come from the same historical desire.
At nearly evolutionary par with whiskey came the 14th century emergence of vodka. Though most of us think Russian, it actually originated in Poland though it quickly spread to Russia and the Balkans. Their motto: when cold (and they mean really, really cold) wear furs and get drunk. Despite our cold-blooded iguana nature, it makes sense to us.
This is where tequila steps into the picture. Though Mexicans had been fermenting agave juice into a “beer,” they had yet to distill it. When the Spanish invaded in the 16th century, they brought with them the European art of distillation, which made the delicious beverage more potent and thusly, more fun.
In the 17th century rum and gin hit the stage. Rum, originally called “kill-devil” (we can’t imagine why), appeared first in Barbados, but soon became a ration for all sailors, spawning the popular conception of the rum-toting-pirate. Arg! Gin, on the other hand, is the only alcohol that has an inventor. Oh the Dutch and their many languages! Franciscus Sylvius decided to refine the Juniper berry and what a smart decision it was.
Most interestingly, in the 21st century Iguana Distillers finally made a name for themselves after centuries of discrimination. Blue Iguana Tequila is the first liquor brand to acknowledge and request their services. They felt iguana distillers had been greatly under-appreciated over the years and wanted to create a tequila that would justly represent them and all of the hard work their claws have done. Over millions of years of evolution and hundreds making illegal moonshine, iguanas have been slighted, mainly for their cold-blooded nature, which many view as relatively bad, if not downright suspicious. Blue Iguana is here to change all that and prove there should be opportunities for all iguanas in the ranks of distilling tequila.
Anything to add to our history of booze? Questions to ask? Write in to the comments below and let us know what you think!