George Clooney started it all, in a way. But the environmental crisis in this Mexican state is really a perfect storm of exacting tequila-production requirements and mercenary celebrity piling on. In 2013, Clooney became a co-founder of Casamigos tequila, which within five years was worth $5 billion. (Business acumen? Between that and his Nespresso flogging, “[Clooney] was named the highest paid actor of 2018 by Forbes after making $239 million despite not appearing in a single film,” according to The Times of London.) The subsequent proliferation of tequila investors-hawkers-mascots, among them Michael Jordan (Cincoro), Kendall Jenner (818), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Lobos 1707), Rita Ora (Próspero), and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Teremana), has helped fuel a thriving industry. Don’t forget Donald Trump’s offering (Lo MAGA). Actually, we just made that one up.
For Jalisco, it’s been a mixed blessing. On the one hand, tequila exports are setting records. “Last year Mexico produced 273 million litres, eight times higher than its output 20 years ago, in an industry worth [$11 billion],” said The Times. But tequila is made from the blue-agave plant, which takes seven years and a massive amount of water to mature—the acidic waste can contaminate local water resources, noted the newspaper, and the whole process causes some 40,000 acres of deforestation annually. ¡Salud!