How did Luma Vodka come to be?

Let's take you back in time...

Jesse sharing his first ever batch of home made beer with his grandma

Chapter 1 - "Prohibition"

Luma's founder, Jesse, was born in Mérida, Mexico and grew up in the US. When he turned 18, he was upset he couldn't legally buy a beer in the US, but was able to in his native Mexico. So he took matters into his own hands. If he couldn't buy it, he would make it. It may have been illegal for him to buy a beer, but it wasn't illegal to buy gains, hops, water and yeast. So he taught himself how to homebrew, much to his mother's dismay. Interestingly enough, what stated off as an act of teenage rebellion became a major hobby and passion for Jesse.

Pictured: Jesse sharing his first ever homebrew with his grandma in 2014

Chapter 1 - "Prohibition"

Luma's founder, Jesse, was born in Mérida, Mexico and grew up in the US. When he turned 18, he was upset he couldn't legally buy a beer in the US, but was able to in his native Mexico. So he took matters into his own hands. If he couldn't buy it, he would make it. It may have been illegal for him to buy a beer, but it wasn't illegal to buy gains, hops, water and yeast. So he taught himself how to homebrew, much to his mother's dismay. Interestingly enough, what stated off as an act of teenage rebellion became a major hobby and passion for Jesse.

Pictured: Jesse sharing his first ever homebrew with his grandma in 2014

Jesse sharing his first ever batch of home made beer with his grandma

Chapter 2 - The Idea

Jesse has always loved a good martini. On a trip to Mexico, Jesse noticed how literally every time he ordered a martini, the only vodkas ever served were foreign brands. Nearly every other spirits category had some kind of domestic product. No matter how hard he looked at any bar, restaurant, or liquor store, he couldn't find a Mexican vodka. This made no sense to him given Mexico's rich agricultural resources and distilling heritage. So naturally, if Jesse couldn't find a Mexican vodka, he would make it himself. For some reason, this was the most excited Jesse had ever been about making something.

Pictured: Typical vodka selection in a Mexican liquor store. Not a single domestic vodka in sight.

Chapter 2 - The Idea

Jesse has always loved a good martini. On a trip to Mexico, Jesse noticed how literally every time he ordered a martini, the only vodkas ever served were foreign brands. Nearly every other spirits category had some kind of domestic product. No matter how hard he looked at any bar, restaurant, or liquor store, he couldn't find a Mexican vodka. This made no sense to him given Mexico's rich agricultural resources and distilling heritage. So naturally, if Jesse couldn't find a Mexican vodka, he would make it himself. For some reason, this was the most excited Jesse had ever been about making something.

Pictured: Typical vodka selection in a Mexican liquor store. Not a single domestic vodka in sight.

Chapter 3 - Ghosts

After some initial research, Jesse quickly learned that the distilling process, especially for vodka, was no joke. It required knowledge on how to operate (really expensive) specialized equipment. Jesse knew if he was going to do this right, he needed to learn from the professionals. He reached out to every single distillery in the area asking if he could work for free on afternoons and weekends as an apprentice. One distillery enthusiastically responded and took Jesse in where he learned the ropes to make Vodka. Just kidding - they all ghosted him. What crazy person works for free, right? So Jesse taught himself how to distill the hard way. He spent months reading every distilling book, article, and tutorial on the web. When he finally thought he was ready, he bought a small column still, put it together, and began preparations to make his Mexican vodka.

Pictured: A very sweaty Jesse working his still for the first time.

Chapter 3 - Ghosts

After some initial research, Jesse quickly learned that the distilling process, especially for vodka, was no joke. It required knowledge on how to operate (really expensive) specialized equipment. Jesse knew if he was going to do this right, he needed to learn from the professionals. He reached out to every single distillery in the area asking if he could work for free on afternoons and weekends as an apprentice. One distillery enthusiastically responded and took Jesse in where he learned the ropes to make Vodka. Just kidding - they all ghosted him. What crazy person works for free, right? So Jesse taught himself how to distill the hard way. He spent months reading every distilling book, article, and tutorial on the web. When he finally thought he was ready, he bought a small column still, put it together, and began preparations to make his Mexican vodka.

Pictured: A very sweaty Jesse working his still for the first time.

Chapter 4 - The Philosophy

There were already too many vodkas in the world. For being perhaps the most versatile and well-sold liquor, it was an exceptionally boring category. Jesse felt most vodka brands were inauthentic, had the same selling points, and were made of essentially the same ingredients (corn, potatoes, or grains). If Jesse was going to embark on making a vodka, he wanted to create one that represented him in the most authentic way possible and was completely different than anything on the market by highlighting Mexico's unique characteristics. This philosophy led Jesse to want to create a vodka made exclusively with ingredients from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula - the region Jesse is from.

Pictured: Luma's first logo. The waves in the text represent the beaches of the Mexican Caribbean. The rays of the sun are sugarcanes. The color of the text is the color of cenote water. Credit to Gianluca Nardella!

Chapter 4 - The Philosophy

There were already too many vodkas in the world. For being perhaps the most versatile and well-sold liquor, it was an exceptionally boring category. Jesse felt most vodka brands were inauthentic, had the same selling points, and were made of essentially the same ingredients (corn, potatoes, or grains). If Jesse was going to embark on making a vodka, he wanted to create one that represented him in the most authentic way possible and was completely different than anything on the market by highlighting Mexico's unique characteristics. This philosophy led Jesse to want to create a vodka made exclusively with ingredients from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula - the region Jesse is from.

Pictured: Luma's first logo. The waves in the text represent the beaches of the Mexican Caribbean. The rays of the sun are sugarcanes. The color of the text is the color of cenote water. Credit to Gianluca Nardella!

Chapter 5 - The Jump

For over a year, Jesse spent day and night on top of his full time job as portfolio manager researching, developing and self-funding the creation of his Mexican vodka. He landed on sugarcane as the main raw material for its terroir and environmental benefits. He also decided to use an alkaline cenote water for its unique sweet taste and because it was the best way to represent Yucatan and the Riviera Maya. Countless trials later, the product was finished. He absolutely loved it and shared it with his friends and family. After a lot of positive feedback on his product, Jesse knew he had to stop making this a hobby and bring it to market. It was about time Mexico had a vodka they could be proud of.

Pictured: Jesse showing off the first ever batch of Luma vodka fresh off the still in 2022.

Chapter 5 - The Jump

For over a year, Jesse spent day and night on top of his full time job as portfolio manager researching, developing and self-funding the creation of his Mexican vodka. He landed on sugarcane as the main raw material for its terroir and environmental benefits. He also decided to use an alkaline cenote water for its unique sweet taste and because it was the best way to represent Yucatan and the Riviera Maya. Countless trials later, the product was finished. He absolutely loved it and shared it with his friends and family. After a lot of positive feedback on his product, Jesse knew he had to stop making this a hobby and bring it to market. It was about time Mexico had a vodka they could be proud of.

Pictured: Jesse showing off the first ever batch of Luma vodka fresh off the still in 2022.

Chapter 5 - The Birth

In 2024, Luma Vodka was finally born. Jesse decided to set up the headquarters in Tulum, Mexico. Why Tulum? Tulum's vibrant energy represents Luma, Tulum is near all of our suppliers, and Tulum is a rapidly growing city that captures the future of Mexico. As a young solo-founder self funding this venture, it was no easy task, but Jesse knew it was worth all the struggle. With a bottle in hand, Jesse set out to bring Luma Vodka to the world. He was going to prove that the vodka status quo can be changed, and also prove that Mexico can make more than just beer and agave spirits.

Pictured: Jesse in full uniform going door to door advertising Luma Vodka in Tulum.

Chapter 5 - The Birth

In 2024, Luma Vodka was finally born. Jesse decided to set up the headquarters in Tulum, Mexico. Why Tulum? Tulum's vibrant energy represents Luma, Tulum is near all of our suppliers, and Tulum is a rapidly growing city that captures the future of Mexico. As a young solo-founder self funding this venture, it was no easy task, but Jesse knew it was worth all the struggle. With a bottle in hand, Jesse set out to bring Luma Vodka to the world. He was going to prove that the vodka status quo can be changed, and also prove that Mexico can make more than just beer and agave spirits.

Pictured: Jesse in full uniform going door to door advertising Luma Vodka in Tulum.

Chapter 6 - In progress...

Who knows what the next chapter will be, all we know is that you're a part of it. Luma Vodka will launch in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the Riviera Maya. Buy a bottle, and help us write the next chapter in our journey. Salud!

Pictured: Endless potential...

Chapter 6 - In progress...

Who knows what the next chapter will be, all we know is that you're a part of it. Luma Vodka will launch in the San Francisco Bay Area and in the Riviera Maya. Buy a bottle, and help us write the next chapter in our journey. Salud!

Pictured: Endless potential...

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