How NAFTA ensured the tequila you drank came from Tequila

You couldn't call it tequila unless it came from the place of the same name in Mexico.

Rules stipulated you couldn't call it tequila unless it originated from Tequila, Mexico

Why tequila has to come from Tequila

25 years ago
NAFTA rules ensured tequila sold in Canada originated from Tequila, Mexico. 2:23

You couldn't call it tequila unless it came from the place of the same name in Mexico.

Or, at least, you couldn't call it tequila if you were planning to put it on the shelf of a Canadian liquor store.

Why? Because that was a requirement under the NAFTA agreement.

"These spikes and thorns now have the same noble pedigree as Champagne grapes," the CBC's Elizabeth Palmer explained on The National on Sept. 14, 1996, as viewers were shown rows of blue agave cactus plants in Tequila, Mexico.

"Thanks to the free trade agreement, the blue agave cactus now has its very own appellation contrôllée — a seal of authenticity."

The National's viewers were shown some of the labour-intensive parts of the tequila-making process, including the harvesting of blue agave cactus plants. (The National/CBC Archives)

Calling the spirit "a liquid gold for Mexican producers," Palmer noted the making of tequila was a labour-intensive effort.

Her report gave viewers a brief glimpse of the tequila-making process, starting with the cultivating of the cactus plants, through to their harvesting, subsequent roasting, crushing and eventual distillation.

Tequila was then in high demand — including in Canada.

"It's become Canada's favourite new tipple under NAFTA with a 20 per cent sales increase in two years, so the rush to export is on," said Palmer. 

Under NAFTA rules, blue agave cactus from Tequila, Mexico, had to be used in order to produce the product known as tequila. (The National/CBC Archives)

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now