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The Mexican Senate has approved a proposal to celebrate a new National Tequila Day, with the intention of cementing the drink’s international reputation as an emblem of Mexico. In the vote held this Tuesday, 87 senators supported the measure, one voted against and one abstained. The new national day was therefore declared and will take place on the third Saturday of every March.
The proposal was modified slightly by the senators, who agreed with representatives of the tequila industry that the day should be held on a Saturday, not a Sunday. The senators deemed Saturday “a more appropriate day for parties,” and pointed out that there are currently laws prohibiting the sale of alcoholic drinks on Sundays in some Mexican states.
According to the approved bill, Mexico is currently exporting tequila to more than 120 countries and sold more than $1.4 billion worth of the drink abroad in 2016. And according to the National Chamber of the Tequila Industry, Mexico’s national spirit directly generates more than 70,000 jobs at home.
In recent years, tequila’s ultra-premium price bracket has enjoyed particular growth, with hip-hop mogul P Diddy, Justin Timberlake, and other celebrities purchasing their own brands. While overall tequila sales up by 5.3% in 2016 from the previous year, ultra-premium tequila and mezcal sales soared by 35% during the same period, according to the International Wines and Spirits Record.
National Tequila Day is particularly good news for the town of Tequila, in the western state of Jalisco, which has become an ever-more popular destination for tourists in recent years. Famed as the birthplace of Mexico’s national drink, Tequila became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006 and is home to a range of historic distilleries.
Tequila was first produced in the 16th century, near the town that shares its name. Today, there are 140 tequila distilleries registered in Mexico. By law, the drink must be distilled in Jalisco or in selected parts of four other states: Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. The drink must also contain at least 51% of the blue Weber agave plant. This denomination of origin status is designed to protect its international reputation.
The first National Tequila Day in Mexico will be held on March 16, 2019. The United States already has its own National Tequila Day, held every year on July 24.