4.17.18 / Oaxaca / Mexico

Sombra Mezcal is Using Their Eco-Friendly Distillery to Build Homes in Oaxaca

A Hotel Life might be comprised of a wide mix of personalities and tastes, but if there’s one thing we can agree on here it’s our affinity for mezcal. And how could we not? There’s a wide range of flavors in mezcal, from the smokiness most people associate with the spirit, to the distinct sweetness that shows up in some of the revered homegrown varietals.

That’s why during Environmental Awareness Month we’ve added a new, sustainably-produced brand to our liquor cabinets: Sombra Mezcal. Founded by Master Sommelier Richard Betts, Sombra has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years, especially as a base for cocktails where the smoky flavor can shine. But what caught our eye was that earlier this year the brand opened a new distillery with a focus on sustainability. Betts recognized that mezcal production creates significant waste, both liquid and solid, that can damage rivers (where dumping disrupts the eco-system by killing fish while simultaneously contaminating drinking water) and pollute the environment.

With the new distillery, Betts wanted to address those issues. To start, Sombra sources organic agave. The distillery features solar panels that take advantage of Oaxaca’s 300 days of sun a year, using the sunlight to power the stone wheel mill (which crush the agave) rather than use animals such as donkeys. It also features underground tanks that capture rainwater that’s used in the distilling and cooling processes. The mezcal is poured in to bottles made from recycled glass, and the physical byproducts from the production are upcycled into adobe bricks. Not only are the bricks donated for public works, but Sombra is currently finishing the first house built with the bricks for a Oaxacan family whose home was damaged in recent earthquakes. The house is set to be completed on April 22nd, which happens to be Earth Day.

We’ve been proponents of change so that industries will become more environmentally friendly, especially the ones in which we are involved with everyday. The food and beverage industry might be the hardest to change and one of the most damaging to the environment, but it’s important for these independent companies to take the first steps. It’s promising to see brands like Sombra lead the way, so we can take pride in our next sip.