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The Institute of Tequila Studies (ITS) is proud to present our highly anticipated exploration of the historical origins of and enduring narrative surrounding Sparkle Donkey Tequila. After years of intensive research, we have been able to compile (and offer for the first time ever online) a plethora of images and documentation detailing the pre- and post-colonial emergence of what is reverently referred to as “The World’s Best Tequila.” Please peruse this incredible collection below and don’t forget to make a donation or visit the gift store.

Watch this 3-minute mini-documentary to learn about one village's experience with "El Burro Esparkalo". This video may be embedded in your blog or historical archive. Music courtesy of Mariachi El Bronx.

The Tale of a Village

Much of the history of this elusive creature and the uplifting elixir he provided has only recently been discovered. The most well documented account of El Burro Esparkalo comes from a small village in Mexico where his appearance was transformative. Much like any other oral history, the villagers that witnessed the startling events first hand told their children who, in turn, told their children, and so on. It is because of this oral tradition that those of us alive today can appreciate and celebrate the tequila that bears the donkey’s name.



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hillside lens flare
Oldest known photo of The Sparkle Donkey approaching a
small Mexican village.

Sparkle Donkey - A Legend Rich with History

The story of the Sparkle Donkey — or El Burro Esparkalo as he is better known — began as little more than a local anecdote about a humble-yet-noble creature that, in dire times, delivered liquid salvation to many who were in need. But as time passed and word of his strange, lustrous aura and invigorating, ambrosial drink spread, the Sparkle Donkey became a powerful symbol of hope — an iconic and inscrutable totem that resonates to this very day.

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Ancient Artifacts

Already well documented are the 15th century Aztec’s production of fermented agave beverage “octli” and 16th century tequila production by Spanish conquistadors. Historians researching the “Sparkle Donkey” have recently discovered references to the legendary animal which pre-date these first references to tequila production itself.

ancient donkey cup
Clay pottery, possibly of Mayan or Nahuatl origin, indicates the central importance of ritual and often portray donkey figures.
ancient donkey cup close-up
Close-up of donkey figure from pottery. Carbon dating puts the age of the piece at around 600 CE. Archaeologists disagree on the meaning of the lines emanating from the donkey's body.
ancient map
Early 19th Century map showing approximate sighting of “El Burro Esparkalo” by Tequila-area village.
ancient volcano
The Volcán de Tequila last erupted over 200,000 years ago, covering the region in rich volcanic soil, ideal for the growth of blue agave.
ancient footprints
Fossilized animal prints near the volcanic site indicate that most animals ran away from the eruption but, interestingly, a lone set of donkey prints appear to run towards it.

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Celebration of a Hero Through the Ages

In the modern era, Sparkle Donkey Tequila has come to mean many things to many people. But above all it means celebration, fertility, and quality.

Villa and Zapata
Villa and Zapata in Mexico city. It is alleged that they rarely held talks without a bottle of Sparkle Donkey Tequila.
old timey bottle
One of the earlier package designs for the Sparkle Donkey Reposado Tequila.

Even More Recently Discovered Heritage

This archive is being constantly updated with new artifacts and images. Please check back to see updated materials, or follow the Facebook page to keep up to date.

http://facebook.com/sparkledonkey

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Advertising a Legend: How the brand has been presented through the decades

As with many well established brands, Sparkle Donkey Tequila has been marketed across the globe according to the zeitgeist of the time. Click through the photos to see what El Burro Esparkalo has meant to different generations of drinkers.

marketing from 1945
Mid 40s
marketing from 1958
Mid 50s
marketing from 1965
Mid 60s
marketing from 1970s
Early 70s

Thank you for visiting

If you would like to learn more about Sparkle Donkey Tequila please visit the one of the Sparkle Donkey social media sites -or- Black Rock Spirits, listed below.



This archive has been made possible by a grant from the Institute of Tequila Studies Endowment, the ITS Oak Barrel Society, the John P and Catherine G McMillan Foundation, and from generous support from donors like you.