In 2021, Kendall Jenner launched her own tequila brand, Drink 818. The company is working with a team at Impact Growth Partners, a women-owned and operated B Corp consulting firm, to help guide them to become more environmentally and socially responsible. Drink 818 wants to get a B Corp Certification, and that’s something I would love to see. However, at the moment, I believe that the company is not providing nearly enough information and it is difficult to assess how sustainable it really is.
The 818 Tequila Blanco is made out of 100% Blue Weber Agaves, handpicked from the lowlands and highlands in Jalisco, Mexico, bottled at 40% alc/vol. Alcohol by volume represents a measure of alcoholic strength, the amount of pure ethanol as a percentage of the overall volume of the drink. Usually, a tequila has around 35, 38 or 40 alc/vol. The drink tastes of sweet agave and vanilla, with undertones of tropical and citrus fruit. It has an ultra-smooth, bright and crispy finish, and notes of almond, key lime pie and toasted coconut.
Overall consumption of tequila has increased in recent years, and so has the demand for agaves. As a result of the shortages across Jalisco, Mexico, caused by the rise in consumer interest and poor planning within the industry, the price of agaves has gone up, and similarly, the price of tequila has, too. Nevertheless, agave shortages could also be caused by the cyclical production of agave, which takes around 7-12 years to mature. If these shortages continue, smaller distilleries will no longer be able to afford it. Many will be overharvesting the land, which will damage soil for future growth, or they will harvest it too quickly, which will lead to low quality drinks. I believe that this could have a negative impact on smaller businesses. I would like Drink 818 to make more of an effort to support local communities and to show its love for Mexico.
The 818 Tequila Blanco was awarded the Gold Medal at the Micro Liquor Spirit Awards, one of the highest rated distilled spirits competitions in the world, that recognizes brands with extraordinary quality and integrity, and the Innovation Award at the SIP Awards, the internationally recognized consumer judging spirits competition.
Firstly, jimadores, who are a type of farmers who harvest agave plants, will identify ripe agaves in Los Valles, by waiting at least 7 years for them to reach maturity. These are then cooked in stone ovens for up to 40 hours, and their juice is extracted and collected using large Tahonas, which are huge, heavy volcanic-stone wheels. The agave juice will be fermented for up to 70 hours, and then distilled twice in pot stills at La Cofraida (NOM 1137), a private distillery, to enhance the aromas. 64 other brands are working with the same distillery, but I believe that 818 could have supported a smaller business. The drink is then rested in French oak for a fresh vanilla roundness. Lastly, the bottles are packaged and delivered.
All company’s labels, corks and boxes are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for coming from sustainably managed forests, and Drink 818’s glass supplier supports the industry-wide transition to natural gas energy sources. I would like the company to make sure it reduces its material usage, and to create a circular life-cycle for their products, encouraging consumers to recycle, or making sure packaging is reused.
Drink 818, launched by Kendall Jenner in 2021, works with local family-businesses in Jalisco, and is committed to ensuring sustainability and transparency; however, some information is difficult to find. The company does have a sustainability page; however, it only presents its efforts superficially, and does not go into a lot of detail. Even though the business is quite new, I wish such information was made available to consumers. Nonetheless, Drink 818 values the whole agave life cycle, so that it will be using recycled fibres to create building materials to provide housing for local families in need. I think this initiative is amazing, and I’m excited to see in what other ways the company will support local communities and the environment.
818 prioritizes people and the planet over profit, and it is part of the 1% for the Planet network. The company will donate 1% of revenue to environmental non-profit partners to ensure that the planet and future generations will thrive, but I believe that this percentage could be higher. I hope Drink 818 will be transparent about the causes it will support, because I would like to see exactly what they value most.