Tequila Herradura is a tequila distiller located in Amatitán, Jalisco, Mexico. It was formally founded in 1870 by Félix López and the business remained in the family for over 125 years. Today it is owned by US beverage maker Brown-Forman, but the tequila is still made in the same place and facilities under a Mexican subsidiary. Tequila products sold under the Herradura name are 100% agave. The company makes other tequila products such as El Jimador, which is the bestselling tequila in Mexico. Since its acquisition by Brown-Forman, Herradura has had a number of promotional efforts in Mexico and the United States, including inviting artists to use tequila barrels at the bases for art pieces, which are then displayed and auctioned off for charity.
The first known owner of the tequila producing property was Feliciano Romo in the early 19th century. The official history of Herradura begin with Félix López, who began as the distillery administrator under then owners Josefa Salazar and her sons. In 1870, López took over the distillery and agave fields and registered it as a tequila producer under the name of Hacienda San José del Refugio.
Félix López married Carmen Rosales and they had two children, Aurelio and MarÃa de Jesus. The couple modernized the production of tequila at the hacienda, building a facility that remained in use until 1963. López died in 1878 and Rosales took over the business along with her brother Ambrosio Rosales and his wife Elisa Gomez Cuervo. Later, the business was inherited by Aurelio López.
The construction of railroads in the late 19th century allowed for easier shipping to other parts of Mexico and increased tequila"„¢s popularity in the country. By this time the hacienda"„¢s tequila was well known, with Aurelio giving it the name of Herradura. The name, which means horseshoe in Spanish, is a said to have come from the finding of a horseshoe on the hacienda property. Stories vary but the one told by the company"„¢s website says that it was found in the early 1900s by Aurelio, while inspecting the agave fields. It gleamed like gold and the horseshoe was kept for luck then naming the tequila after it. In the 1920s the Cristero War broke out, with both Aurelio and his sister MarÃa de Jesus as sympathizers. At one-point government troops surrounded the hacienda but the siblings were able to escape. However, Aurelio never returned to the hacienda again.
The hacienda passed into the hand of Aurelio"„¢s cousin David Rosales, who kept the tequila 100% agave despite the trend towards blending to cut costs. In 1928, he registered the Herradura brand in Mexico City with a horseshoe as its logo. MarÃa de Jesus was able to return to Herradura and distinguished herself with charitable works to the town of Amatitán, including the building of wells in an area with little water.
The hacienda and the Herradura brand remained in the family for over a century. In the 1960s, the old factory was shut down in favour of a new one, but kept as a museum. During this time Herradura Añejo Tequila was introduced with Reposado introduced in 1974. In 1994, el Jimador brand was introduced and became the #1 seller in Mexico.
In the 1990s, there was conflict over sales of shares in the company by some members of the family as well as agave growing land. Part of the legal problems stemmed from the sale of shares to non-Mexican entities. In 2004, Herradura bought back foreign owned shares, making the company 100% Mexican owned again. At this time, the company controlled thirty percent of the Mexican tequila markets behind Jose Cuervo"„¢s forty percent share.
However, in 2007 all assets of the company were sold for $USD 776 million to the US-based company Brown-Forman, which produces other alcoholic beverages such as Jack Daniel's, Southern Comfort, Finlandia Vodka and Korbel California Champagne. That same year Herradura was named "best distillery of 2007" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
Since 2007, the brand has slowly become more internationally recognized. When Brown-Forman bought it, the brand was sold in fifty three countries. Today, it is sold in 136 countries through the Brown-Forman network in Europe, South America, North America and Asia. Its market share in the United States and other countries has been growing as well.
Although owned by Brown-Forman, the facilities are still based in Amatitán, Jalisco is run by Grupo Industrial Herradura under manager Randy McCann. The hacienda is the setting to a number of legends and ghost stories. These include sightings of old conquistadors and stories related to the various tunnels that were dug on the hacienda property during the Cristero War. Over its history, the company has run all aspects of tequila production from growing the agave to bottling the final product. Herradura brand tequilas are still made with agave hearts roasted in clay ovens and fermented with wild yeast. In the late 2000s, the company invested about 15 million USD in water treatment plants, the Amatitán distillery, new laboratories and other facilities.