Mezcal Unión’s Toño Vilches on origins, growth, and unity

Mezcal Unión seems to be a brand that has this practice at its core. Could you explain some of the ways in which you work with the indigenous communities and is there a danger of these communities becoming exploited as multinational alcohol companies move into the mezcal space?

“Through Liga Productora in Oaxaca we are able to keep communities and social connections at the core of its strategy. In the agricultural stage of our supply chain, we partner up with local farmers to grow agave instead of simply integrating all rural operations. These partnerships effectively act as catalysers for local entrepreneurship and high-value participation from local communities in our supply chain.

“We provide agave maintenance expertise, push for the reduction of environmental impact, and generate higher income for farmers than a traditional purchase-and-pay model. At the mezcal production stage, we partner with maestros mezcaleros that share our values and we them become resilient and be able to preserve the artisanal attributes of mezcal, while simultaneously becoming entrepreneurs who focus on improving their own business through the deployment of best practices that we share and build together.”

The book that you have published is a lovely representation of the brand’s story. Why did you want to create it and tell that story, and why was now the right time to put it out?

“We’ve always believed that purposeful brands and projects could have very interesting messages to share, and that's what we did for many years, telling our story to anyone who would listen. We turned that story into a successful social supply model that we thought was worth sharing. We’ve been, in different moments of our life, inspired by people and projects that have given us vision and purpose. We wanted to do the same.

"Now share our purpose, our vision, and our story of mezcal, collaboration and friendship. The book was our preferred way of doing it because it gave us the opportunity to work with and unite artists, writers, designers and photographers through the story of Unión.”

The Mezcal Unión book, Unión for All: A Story of Mezcal and Community is available now.