Founded by women who are fighting for fair wages for Oaxacan women
by Sun Bak
Led by three women—Yola Jimenez, Gina Correll Aglietti and Lykke Li—Yola Mezcal offers more than just a clean, balanced taste with that familiar smoky kick (akin to tequila's more sophisticated, older cousin). It's dedicated to traditional making methods and not only paying the workers in Mexico a fair wage, but furthermore, Yola's bottling facility in Oaxaca employs only women—creating more opportunities for economic independence in the area.
"Women in Oaxaca have always worked in mezcal production in their small villages, but unbelievably, the men in the family always collect the women’s wages and the women often see little or nothing!" founder Jimenez tells CH. "[We were] determined to change this by employing and partnering with as many women as possible and providing direct payment to the women for their work."
The date inscribed on the label's pensive paint swipe, 1971, is a significant one: it's the year Jimenez's grandfather bought a mezcal farm in southwestern Mexico, San Juan del Río, Oaxaca and began to make his own. Some 45+ years later, Yola continues to plant all the agave they use, and have built a facility that reduces the use of water to 10% and log burning to 25%—staying true to their mission of making mezcal as sustainable as possible, without compromising age-old traditions.
"It has taken years to get our finished bottle of Yola Mezcal over the border but it has been an effort of communal work, love and unity between the Mexican and American women in our company," Jimenez continues. "Most importantly, as we grow sustainably, we offer more and more women respect and prosperity and self determination."
Los Angeles and NYC-based diners can find Yola at some of their favorite restaurants and bars (like Diamond Reef) and select wine and spirits stores. They've listed some beautiful cocktail recipes on their site as well.
Bottle image by Cool Hunting, all others courtesy of Yola Mezcal