Bacanora production dates back to at least the 1600s with the Native Opata interacting with the Spanish and their stills. There’s a chance that distillation in Sonora dates back farther than that, but that seems uncertain. The spirit of Bacanora was declared illegal in 1915, and it remained illegal for 77 years, until 1992.
The Mexican government granted Bacanora with a Denomination Of Origin in the year 2000, and NOM regulations were established in 2005. According to the rules outlined in the NOM, only agave Angustifolia Haw (also known as maguey Pacifica) can be used to produce Bacanora. In 2006, the Bacanora Regulatory Council was created in the state of Sonora to regulate, standardize, and commercialize the industry. Currently, there are thirty-six municipalities within the state of Sonora where the agave Angustifolia Haw must be grown, harvested, and distilled in order to be considered a Bacanora. The Sonoran desert extends north into Arizona, all the way up to Tucson, where Bacanora was once produced in the late 1800s and early 1900s.