Casamigos: George Clooney and tequila
George Clooney is an Oscar-winning actor and a silver screen legend, not to mention an activist, charity-worker and humanitarian. But what you might not know is that he also happens to be a top-notch entrepreneur. Aside from his extensive film work, Clooney made headlines in summer 2017 when his tequila brand, Casamigos, was sold for a whopping $1 billion. That made Clooney the year’s highest paid actor without setting foot in front of a camera!
But how did Casamigos come about? The company originally began as a join venture between Clooney and his close friend Rande Gerber, after a discussion about how they would both love a tequila that you could drink without running the risk of a hangover. But on a wider level, it was about deconstructing the nature of “prestige” branding for tequila; making luxury and affordability go hand in hand.
Clooney and Gerber had been close friends for thirty years, but it was not until around 2010-2011 that they came up with the original concept for their business venture. In many ways, it is the friendship between the two drinking buddies which has informed the nature of Casamigos. Take the name for instance- it is borrowed from the plot of land in Mexico on which the two men own properties. Literally translated from the Spanish, it means “house of friends.” And during their time together in Mexico- during which they shared plenty of meals with friends- the pair sampled a whole host of tequilas.
Both Clooney and Gerber knew what it would take to make the perfect tequila. They were on the hunt for a smooth flavor- one that did not require a mixer- as well as a minimal hangover risk. So they set out to research until they found the perfect drink. At this point, they had no intention of mass-marketing their beverage. It was purely about finding something they could both agree was a flawless tequila. It took a lot of blind taste tests with a whole host of distillers, but they finally struck on the perfect formula.
This was two years and around 700 samples later- when the Casamigos brand was born. Originally produced for consumption by Gerber, Clooney, their friends and families, it wasn’t long before so much of it was being manufactured that the duo hit a snag. Without a license, they would not be able to continue producing the drink they loved. So the next step was to get the required license, which effectively amounted to taking the production public. What had begun as a private venture was rapidly taking on a life of its own. It was not long before a US distributor took an interest. The pair joined forces with property developer Mike Meldman, and soon enough demand was skyrocketing.
But it’s important to note that from the very beginning, Casamigos was not about profitability. That fact has been a major contributor to its success. It has always been about quality. As Gerber himself has pointed out in interviews, neither he nor George Clooney needed the money the brand would generate. That’s why they were able to go the extra mile in producing a high-end product.
Currently, Casamigos produces three varieties of tequila. These are the blanco, the añejo and the reposado. All three are made with 100% Blue Weber agave, which is harvested after being grown in rich soil and nurtured for between seven and nine years. The lengthy process ensures top quality ingredients, which are then fermented for more than double the traditional length of time for tequila production.
But realistically speaking, there is not much of a secret to the success of Casamigos- it’s just about providing quality tequila at affordable prices. And of course, the association with a major movie star certainly didn’t hurt. From the very beginning the presence of Clooney enhanced the word-of-mouth nature of the brand’s success. It was not necessary to indulge in high-profile marketing campaigns; the Clooney link took care of that.
However, it’s also important to note that Casamigos is much more than a vanity project- it’s also a top quality beverage in its own right. It has won a whole host of awards which can attest to the fact. For instance, the brand picked up a slew of gold medals at festivals throughout the US, such as the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition and the the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. This adds a further element of prestige to what is already a decidedly high-end product.
Between 2014 and 2015, production doubled, reflecting the impact of the so-called “tequila gold rush.” Production rates doubled again between 2015 and 2016, and Casamigos is now sold worldwide. The company is based in LA, where for several years Gerber was in charge of running the business day-to-day. He has also made it clear in interviews that he consults with Clooney on a regular basis, so the pair are very closely involved in the direction of the company. Bearing in mind its unprecedented success, it is perhaps not surprising that major multinational corporations began to take an interest. One of these- the eventual purchaser- was the UK-based Diageo.
Diageo made an initial agreement to pay $700 million for the brand, with a deal that- depending on the company’s continued success- will be worth up to a further $300 million. That means Clooney and Gerber’s little idea has now yielded a grand total of $1 billion. It is also a testament to Diageo’s faith in Casamigos that this heavyweight deal would not net them a single cent of profit for the first four years. Diageo is clearly in it for the long haul.
But the acquisition of Casamigos does not mean Clooney and Gerber are out of the tequila game- not by a long shot. In fact, they both remain heavily involved with the company. Gerber has even boasted that the pair still sample every single batch to test its quality. And as the company continues to grow, the worldwide thirst for tequila shows no sign of slowing down.
For us at Tequila world, Casamigos is one of our favorites and a great frequent treat. We like that George Clooney made is mark in the world of tequila and brought his A-list reputation to what we are passionate about.
You can purchase this tequila on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3fQxldD