I get sent a lot of pitches. So, an intriguing story is sometimes hard to dig out of an inbox with a low signal-to-noise ratio. But Alma del Jaguar tequila‘s story stopped me in my tracks, appealing to my animal-loving nature. Launched in May 2023 by founder McCauley Williams, the tequila brand donates a percentage of its proceeds to aid in wild jaguar conservation.
Why jaguars? Williams got the idea from his uncle Rick Williams. A wildlife photographer, he moved to Mexico in the ’90s to study the big cats. He then co-founded the Northern Jaguar Project to help protect the wild jaguars in the Sierra Madre Mountains. As the largest cat in the Americas, it is endangered due to poaching and the destruction of its habitat. Now Williams carries on his uncle’s mission. But he not only uses the brand to help with conservation efforts but to promote sustainability. The distillery uses recycled Mexican glass, shavings repurposed for their cork stoppers, and agave fiber labels sourced from suppliers located within 85 miles of the distillery.
Fortunately, Alma del Jaguar’s environmentally responsible image and heartfelt backstory support a delicious highland tequila, a blend of two tequilas. It’s comprised of 80% fermented from wild yeast for a bolder complexity and 20% from Champagne yeast from France for a subtle sweetness. To create it, Williams partnered up with master distiller Sergio Cruz, tequila expert Adam Fodor, and fifth-generation tequila family, the Vivancos at NOM 1414. They cook the agave piñas for 54 hours in brick ovens and then run them through a roller mill. During open-air fermentation, the distillery plays classical music to help the yeast get moving. Afterward they distill the tequilas twice in copper pot stills and then hand bottle them.
The result is an additive-free blanco tequila with a subtly sweet bell pepper aroma. Upon first sip, black pepper, tropical fruit notes, and a grassiness come through with some minerality. Even though, it’s 40% ABV, a warmth spreads through the finish. Because of that, I love it in a Margarita, where it can stand up to the citrus and orange liqueur. But I’d also still enjoy it neat. $49.99, seelbachs.com