db meets: Rande Gerber

Business mogul Rande Gerber launched ultra-premium Tequila brand Casamigos with his Hollywood pal George Clooney and entrepreneur Mike Meldman in 2013. Four years later it was sold to drinks giant Diageo for US$1 billion, based in its performance over the next decade. In 2018 the trio added a mezcal to the range housed in a matte black bottle designed by Gerber. We caught up with the Malibu resident to find out how Casamigos came to be and why it took 700 attempts to get the recipe right.

How did Casamigos come about?

A decade ago George and I were spending a lot of time in Mexico, building homes next to one another, which were named Casamigos (meaning ‘house of friends’), as you do. We were drinking a lot of Tequila at the time.

We’d go to bars and bartenders and would suggest different Tequilas – some really expensive, some good, some not so good, but we never found one that was perfect for us. We wanted the best tasting, smoothest Tequila, one with no burn that you didn’t have to cover up with salt or lime.

We wanted to be able to drink it all night and not be hungover in the morning, so we started working with one of the greatest distillers in Jalisco to develop the exact profile that we wanted.

It is true that it took 700 attempts to get the recipe right?

Two years and 700 samples later, we finally got the blend perfect. Fortunately, at the time we were just making it for ourselves and had the time and patience to get it just right.

When we opened our 700th bottle, we looked at each other and knew it was perfect. We knew there was nothing better and finished the bottle.

When you first started producing Casamigos commercially in 2013, you must have had no idea how successful it was going to become…

In the beginning we made it for ourselves. For fun, we did blind tastings for our friends, comparing it with the biggest, most popular and most expensive Tequila brands and Casamigos won every time. We knew we loved it, but it was a great feeling when everyone chose ours too. We’re extremely proud that Casamigos has become the fastest-growing Tequila brand in the world.

You roast and ferment the pines for far longer than the average Tequila maker, why is that?

Since we’re a small batch, ultra-premium Tequila, some companies speed up the process but we don’t. We use the old fashioned method that takes time. Our agave takes a minimum of seven years to ripen and the pines are hand selected when they’re perfectly ripe. George and I sign and number every batch we bottle. We also taste every batch before it goes into the bottle. The demand has been incredible but we will never speed up the process or compromise on quality.

How has working in the nightlife business helped you in the running of Casamigos?

When I designed and opened my first bar, it was based on where I wanted to go and how I entertained at home. I didn’t look at the market and think, ‘how do I create something cool’. I did it for myself. I wanted to hang out on a couch and listen to mellow rock and roll. I wanted the lighting to be beautiful, the furniture comfortable, the drinks fresh. I always create things for myself. When you’re doing something for yourself, you’re doing something authentic.

How important is the selling a dream element to your brand?

We are seeing people drinking Casamigos that have never drunk Tequila or mezcal before. Consumers are smart and can’t be fooled by fancy bottles and big budget marketing campaigns. They know what they like and they want the best. George and I don’t follow any rules, we do things our own way. When you have a quality product, the best marketing is word of mouth.

There are a lot of celebrity drinks brands out there, what is it about your brand that has made it so successful do you think?

Casamigos is not a celebrity brand. We made it to drink not start a company. People appreciate the authenticity of our story. George, Mike and I own it, drink it, run the company and live the lifestyle. The accolades Casamigos has received is because of the spirit, not the people behind it.

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