It is not uncommon for celebrities to promote their own alcoholic drink, from the pristine Crystal Head Vodka from Dan Aykroyd to the refined Mezcal of Dos Hombres from Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, there are plenty of options.
818 Tequila is another example of a celebrity-owned brand, in this case by the American media personality Kylie Jenner.
In this article, we will take a closer look at 818 Tequila, including its history, buying guide, and mixes, to help you decide if the tequila is for you.
“One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, FLOOR!”
A Brief History of 818 Tequila
Kylie Jenner launched her brand in February 2021. 818 is the San Fernando Valley area code she grew up in.
It’s twice-distilled from agave (hopefully of the blue variety although this is never stated explicitly) sourced from the Los Valles region near the town of Tequila in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
Agave is a succulent indigenous to most of South America. Picture a cactus that’s half-aloe. Agave takes a minimum of seven years to reach peak maturity.
The strain of agave with the highest concentration of sugar is Weber Blue. Blue Weber, at its most basic, has herbal spice notes and citrus.
How 818 Tequila Is Made
Hand-picked agaves are cooked for up to two days before being crushed by large stone mill wheels called tahonas. The agave juice is fermented for 70 hours, then twice-distilled in alembic stills before being aged in barrels of white oak.
The aging process produces 3 types of tequila (also known in tequila parlance as ‘expressions’):
Blanco (‘white’ also known as silver)
A clear tequila aged for a few weeks.
Having been aged for anything from 2 to 11 months, it has a smooth, even finish that’s not as harsh on the throat as white tequila. Also, if you suffer a hangover, it won’t be as severe because the yeast has had a chance to metabolize more of the agave sugar.
As with champagne, the longer the aging process, the deeper the color. After a year (the minimum amount of time required to qualify as añejo), the tequila is very nearly the color of caramel. Most añejos are aged three years.
Caveats and Cautions
Contrary to popular belief, a gold label is not a mark of purity. Rather, it’s there to warn the buyer that that particular beverage is in fact a ‘mixto’: an inexpensive, artificially-colored tequila to which flavors like coconut or strawberry have been added. Mixtos are used almost exclusively for cocktails.
The trouble with brands adding artificial sweeteners is that they mask the taste of what is, after all, 80-proof alcohol and encourage you to drink more than you normally would. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to prefer tequilas labeled 100% as they are made entirely with natural agave sugars.
818 Tequila Attributes
|Taste||Aroma||Body & color||Finish||Distinguishing Feature|
|818 Blanco||Agave sweetness, vanilla, citrus||Chamomile, lemongrass, slightly floral and mineral undertones||Light-bodied, bright silver||Smooth, bright, and crisp||Aged in oak|
|818 Reposado||Roasted agave, caramel, and vanilla||Vanilla, honey, meringue, and fruity accents||Medium-bodied, pale gold||Smooth, sweet, caramel, and pecan||Aged in oak for at least 2 months|
|818 Añejo||Vanilla, agave, and herbal undertones||Caramel, roasted nuts, toffee, chocolate, citrus||Full-bodied, amber||Silky, rich||Aged in oak for over a year|
|818 Eight Reserve||Cooked agave, vanilla, cinnamon, fruit, and praline||Vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, honey, roasted nuts, citrus, and black cherry||Full-bodied, bright amber||Silky, smooth, spicy fruit aftertaste||A blend of añejo and extra añejo aged in oak for 8 years *|
* 818 Eight Reserve comes in a ceramic decanter hand-made by Pachucan artisans.
818 Tequila Pricing Table
|818 Eight Reserve||750ml||$200|
Alternatives to 818 Tequila
It seems only fair to pit celebrity tequilas against one another:
- This is the brand co-founded by George Clooney and Rande Gerber.
- $45 for the 750ml blanco, $50 for the 750ml reposado, and $55 for the 750ml añejo.
- Tastes of agave, citrus, and vanilla.
- Aged in stainless steel barrels.
- The story goes that the Clooney and Gerber households were consuming so much tequila (more than a thousand bottles in the course of a year!) that the government demanded they purchase an import license, which is where they got the idea of going into the tequila business.
- One of Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar’s brands, along with Cabo Wabo Tequila and Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum.
- $53 for 750ml.
- Santo Mezquila is a blend of mezcal and tequila, which means that it has more flavor than plain tequila while not being as smoky as plain mezcal.
- Sammy has been in the alcohol business for 30 years. His award-winning Cabo Wabo launched in 1991.
- Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson drew on his Polynesian roots when it came to naming his tequila. Tera means ‘of the earth’ while Mana is the Earth Spirit.
- While tainted by marketing-speak like ‘ultra-premium highlands tequila’, ‘small batch’, and ‘distilled in handmade copper pot stills’, Teremana is by all accounts smooth with a clean finish.
- Naturally sweet with the aroma of mature agave.
- The 750ml blanco is $33 while the 750ml reposado is $35.
- If anyone’s going to get it right, it’s going to be a football player and a hockey player. El Bandido is the 2021 brainchild of NFL’s Jim Bob Morris and Hall of Famer Chris Chelios.
- Made entirely of Blue Weber agave.
- The reposado expression is aged in stripped, re-charred oak bourbon barrels for extra flavor.
- $39 for a 750ml bottle of blanco, $44 for a 750ml bottle of reposado.
- El Bandido is a signatory to A.C.R.E.D., a nonprofit coalition of companies that plow 1% of their profits back into the local communities that make their products.
How To Drink 818 Tequila
Before we get into how tequila can be drunk, let’s weigh our choices.
Unless someone else is buying, there’s really no excuse for drinking blanco, not when a bottle of reposado – and even an añejo – is only a few dollars more.
The difference in price may be slight but the difference in quality is enormous. Age is everything where tequila is concerned. We’re talking about a superior experience altogether: a quantum leap in taste, aroma, and color!
That said, let’s look at ways of imbibing this miraculous agave elixir:
- Adding ice is a bad idea. It’s like diluting it with water. It’s not going to taste the same, body and mouthfeel are going to suffer, and you’ll lose some of the aromas in the bargain.
- Don’t refrigerate it, either. Drink it at room temperature.
- Sip it slowly rather than swallowing it all at once.
- Take a slice of lemon between your thumb and forefinger.
- Lick the little patch of skin between your thumb and forefinger and sprinkle it with salt.
- Lick off the salt, swallow the tequila in one shot, then bite into the slice of lemon.
- Fill a cocktail shaker to the halfway point with ice.
- Add 2 ounces of tequila, a ½-ounce of orange liqueur, an ounce of freshly-squeezed lime juice, and a ½-ounce of agave nectar.
- Shake for about a minute.
- Strain into a glass.
- Coat the rim with salt.
How long does tequila keep once the bottle has been opened?
Almost indefinitely, as long as the bottle has been tightly sealed and slightly refrigerated. Just be sure to take it out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature before you drink it.
How long have people been drinking tequila?
The Aztecs have been making an agave drink for 2000 years. The first modern version appeared in the 17th Century.
Plaudits and Laudits
To be fair and give credit where it’s due, Ms. Jenner deserves massive props for a business model that’s as progressive as it is forward-thinking. Most companies sign up for just one sustainability program, largely as a marketing strategy. After all, no one wants to be seen doing absolutely nothing. 818, on the other hand, subscribes to a range of initiatives that include nearly every aspect of social and climate activism:
- One of the reasons La Cofradia was chosen was because their distillery runs on biomass and solar power.
- 818’s sustainability partner in the province of Jalisco is S.A.C.R.E.D., a consortium that works to turn the byproducts of agave farming and the tequila industry into the adobe bricks used to build schools and hospitals.
- Their glass supplier uses natural gas as its primary energy source.
- 818’s labels, corks, and boxes are sourced from sustainably managed forests and are certified as such by the Forest Stewardship Council.
- 1% of the revenue from every bottle sold is donated to its nonprofit partners.
- 818 Tequila donates to The Venture Out Project, an organization that promotes LGBTQ+ rights. The Project’s stated aim is to expose members of the trans, gay, and queer communities to the Great Outdoors, both as a means of life enrichment and as an antidote to depression.
- 818 also sponsors Beyond Bathrooms, The Venture Out Project’s trans inclusion workshop.
- 818’s ultimate goal is B Corp Certification, a select group of for-profit companies that meets the most stringent standards of corporate accountability.
818 has won 25 blind-tasting awards across 8 heavyweight industry competitions since its inception. These include Best Reposado Tequila (World Tequila Awards), a Platinum Award (SIP Awards), Chairman’s Trophy (Ultimate Spirits Challenge), Triple Gold (MicroLiquor Spirit Awards), Top 100 Spirits (Ultimate Spirits Challenge), and an Innovation Award (SIP Awards).