The CEO of super premium Pisco brand Portón has admitted that confusion with super premium Tequila brand Patrón has been “good” for business.
Speaking to the drinks business during a visit to London last week, Johnny Schuler, CEO of Pisco Portón said: “Sometimes people get Portón confused with Patrón Tequila, which can be a good thing for us.
“Patrón’s owner, John Paul DeJoria, hasn’t sued me yet. He’d have sued the living daylights out of me if he’d had a problem with it. While the names might be similar, I don’t think the bottles are similar.”
Portón means “gate” in Spanish, while Patrón means “boss”.
Pisco Portón is currently the largest selling Pisco in Peru and the US, with a 45% share of the Pisco market in America and a retail price of US$39.99.
Johnny Schuler, CEO of Pisco Portón
The grape-based spirit is made at Hacienda La Caravedo, the oldest distillery in the Americas boasting a functioning grape press dating back to 1684.
“I didn’t want to make a Disneyland product. We’re the real deal. We own our own distillery and 180 hectares of vineyards – I want my poison to be the best,” Schuler, who was born in the Bolivian jungle, told db.
The Pisco is distilled in copper stills in small batches and comes off at 43% proof.
“The Chilean’s can’t reach that alcohol level in their first distillation, so they have to double distil and then add a load of water to bring the abv down,” Schuler said.
Having opened a series of fine dining restaurants in the Peruvian capital of Lima, Schuler made it his mission to put high-end Pisco on the map after tasting a mind-blowing example while judging at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles.
He believes his flagship Pisco, made from a blend of Quebranta, Torontel and Albilla grapes, offers notes of “straw, bread, toast, hints of chocolate, banana, pear, green apple, mango, pineapple and raisins.”
In addition, Schuler produces seven different single grape Piscos and is hoping consumers will approach them in the same way they would a single varietal wine.
“I don’t want my spirit to be the same each year. I’m not trying to make Hennessy Cognac or Johnnie Walker Black Label. It will be different each year and I want to celebrate that,” he told db.
“It would be boring if we made the same tasting spirit each year. I want to teach spirit drinkers to view Pisco like a wine and embrace vintage variation safe in the knowledge that I am using the very best of what I’ve got each year.
“Pisco is alive and it needs to have its own distinctive personality each year,” he added.
The single grape Piscos will be launched in the US this June, with the vintage written on the side of the bottle.
Having signed a distribution deal with Mangrove, Pisco Portón was launched in the UK last month with an rrp of £39.99. The brand made its debut in the US in 2011.