Cinco de Mayo is upon us, and as much as bro-y types have interpreted it as a free pass to wear sombreros and get wasted on Tecate, the holiday was actually originally a celebration of resistance to European colonization. The irony is that a holiday commemorating victory over the colonizers has become grossly whitewashed.
This Cinco de Mayo (and always), appreciate, don’t appropriate. Besides learning about Mexican history and culture, you can respectfully support the community by putting your dollar behind Mexican-owned businesses, including socially conscious tequila brands committed to sustainability and cultural responsibility, like the seven tequila brands we’ve handpicked, below. These spirits perfectly complement a sunny afternoon, and better still, you can sip them with the satisfaction that comes with knowing they were crafted sustainably.
Mijenta Tequila Blanco applies the same care it does in creating this rich, complex blend of vanilla, fresh fruit, and cinnamon flavors to embodying sustainability at every stage of production. This small-batch, woman-crafted tequila brand’s green initiatives include using labels made with agave waste and eco-certified packaging.
As its name suggests, this one’s for those who like it smoky. But a single-note spirit this is not: Its flavor profile also includes sweet, citrus, and pepper notes. A water treatment system reclaims the water used in production, and the leftover agave fibers become fertilizer compost. Patrón also pays their employees fairly, allows them flex hours, and provides them with transportation to and from the distillery, as well as an after-hours education program.
Bourbon lovers will find añejos like this one — aged for 18 months in ex-bourbon oak barrels, with hints of vanilla and a brown spice finish — the perfect foray into tequila. A natural volcanic water source nourishes the rows of agave plants, and the distillery grows peanuts between them to infuse the soil with an extra dose of nutrients.
This is one of my go-to tequilas, with a clean, subtly sweet flavor that pairs well with fish tacos. Single Estate Tequila Ocho practices sustainability in every sense of the word, employing people whose families have worked with the brand for generations, minimizing the use of chemicals in its fields, and turning the fiber remnants from milling into compost. It also participates in the Bat Friendly Program to enhance the local bat population. Bats pollinate the blue agave, reintroducing genetic diversity to it, which can help make it more resilient.
Another one for those who prefer brown spirits, this reposado has a floral, vanilla aroma and toasted oak tasting notes. Casa Noble remains committed to a reciprocal relationship with the land and people. Founder Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo told VinePair that the small-batch brand grows all of its agave on site, so it can return any plant waste to the fields as fertilizer.
For those who don’t want to sacrifice sustainability for sophistication, this vanilla and spice-flavored, small-batch blend of blue agave silver and extra aged tequila is made via a diffusion process that consumes less energy and water, and creates less waste.
This sweet, citrusy, award-winning silver is smooth enough for sipping yet subtle enough for mixing. Another brand that takes environmental and cultural sustainability to heart, Olmeca Altos Tequila measures each step of its production process with an eye to minimizing energy and water consumption, works with suppliers to guarantee fair wages, and partners with Huichol communities to boost their family income and improve their access to water, housing, and medical assistance.