Posted on | May 5, 2014
Written by | Jeffery Lindenmuth
Few people can hope to enjoy the Hollywood lifestyle of an Academy Award–winning actor like George Clooney, but very soon everyone will be able to enjoy his personal drink. Casamigos Tequila is the original creation of George Clooney and Rande Gerber, founder of Gerber Spirits, along with Discovery Land Company CEO and founder Michael Meldman. “George and I spend a lot of time in Mexico, and that used to include sampling a lot of different Tequilas. Some were good, some not-so-good. One day, George turned to me and said ‘Why don’t we create our own Tequila? We’ll come up with the perfect Tequila and make it our own house Tequila,’” recalls Gerber. After researching dozens of distilleries, they found a Master Distiller they wanted to collaborate with and proceeded to sample their way through over 700 Tequilas—finally arriving at Casamigos, named for Clooney’s and Gerber’s adjacent homes in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, roughly translated to “house of friends.”
While Casamigos did not start out as a commercial enterprise, the trio soon realized that they were not the only ones to appreciate the taste of their “house” Tequila, which features freshness and complexity coupled with exceptional smoothness. “We were purchasing about 1,000 bottles a year and the distillery thought we had to be selling it already, because how could three guys drink 1,000 bottles of tequila?” laughs Gerber. “But friends were always asking for bottles.”
Seeing the thirst for a ultra-premium Tequila of refined character, and perhaps to thwart theft of their dwindling stash, the friends decided offer Casamigos to the world.
It’s What’s Inside
The Bottle Because it was not conceived as a commercial endeavor, Casamigos results from a monomaniacal quest for quality. “We were fortunate to have the time, the patience and the money to pursue a liquid that few others can,” explains Gerber. This small batch, ultra-premium tequila begins with piñas from 100% Blue Weber agaves grown in the cool climate of Mexico’s Jalisco Highlands. The tequila is fermented with proprietary yeast in an extra-slow fermentation process lasting over 80 hours—nearly double the industry standard.
Casamigos Blanco, which rests for two months, is crisp and bright, with vanilla on the nose and a fresh, grassy palate that offers a peppery, agave-highlighted finish. It’s joined by Casamigos Reposado, aged for seven months in American White Oak casks, which impart roundness and hints of caramel.
The co-creators eschew lime and salt, usually preferring to savor the flavors neat. “We were seeking ultimate smoothness without any burn, and also something you could sip all night. My wife [Cindy Crawford] loves to sip it on the rocks,” says Gerber, noting that it also mixes well in a top-shelf Margarita.
Unlike many flashy ultra-premium spirits with celebrity spokespeople, Casamigos prefers to go slightly incognito ,in its tastefully understated, almost utilitarian, package. The typewritten-looking label, bearing the project code and lot numbers, is actually a close facsimile of the very sample that the trio tasted. “Nothing about this brand is made up, so why put it in a fancy perfume bottle? We basically took the bottle and put a cork in it,” says Gerber.
The bottle smacks of authenticity that will appeal to the spirits enthusiast, and comes with the added benefit of cost savings, keeping Casamigos priced competitively at $44.99 and $49.99 for the Blanco and the Resposado respectively. “We did not concern ourselves with cost when we made it, so our margins might be a little less and our bottle might not be as fancy. We chose to put our money inside the bottle,” says Gerber with pride.
Making New Friends
As part of their effort to spread their love of Tequila, the Casamigos team selected Sidney Frank Importing Company, as the exclusive importer and distributor of Casamigos Tequila in the
In doing so, Casamigos joins a family of exclusive spirits from this importing company with an impressive
record of brand-building success. “We have a long history of building ultra-premium brands from family-owned businesses,” observes Lee Einsidler, Chief Executive Officer at Sidney Frank Importing Company, Inc. “George, Rande and Mike are family. They have been friends for a long time. Our cultures are very much in line.”
The creators of Casamigos have no shortage of diverse talents among them, but Gerber says Sidney Frank’s experience was critical to tackle the unfamiliar distribution challenges, allowing them to focus on being creative evangelists for the new ultra-premium brand. “George [Clooney] has written three new campaign ideas for the brand that are really great, just really fun. He’ll be writing, producing and directing promotions for the brand, whether it’s TV or viral video,” says Gerber.
Einsidler agrees that these owners live their brand, and he doesn’t expect people to buy into it based on their celebrity. He certainly did not: “Casamigos is part of the owners’ everyday lives. This is not a celebrity-endorsed product. We are not interested in that and have turned down hundreds of those over time. Casamigos was created by them and for them, brought to you by those who drink it.”
Recent awards and ratings for Casamigos include a gold medal from the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition; an “Excellent” rating for Casamigos Blanco and Reposado at this year’s Ultimate Spirits Challenge; and best tequila in the world as reviewed in Men’s Journal, among others. Casamigos also recently won double gold medals for both Blanco and Reposado at the 2014 San Francisco World
For Gerber, it’s validation of what he’s felt all along: This may be a brand enjoyed by celebrities, but it’s not just a celebrity brand. “We want everyone to enjoy and appreciate what we’ve done,” he says. Consumer buzz is building and some retailers are clamoring for more supply already, according to Gerber, who suggests an añejo and other offerings may be down the line. For now, the owners are focused on their partnerships with Sidney Frank and their Master Distiller in an effort to meet demand. “I want everyone to be able to enjoy Casamigos. But we drink it ourselves, so there will be no compromise,” says Gerber.