Rande Gerber and George Clooney’s ultra premium Casamigos expands its empire, this time with a high-end sipping mezcal.
Rande Gerber and George Clooney in Jalisco, Mexico.
With tequila revenues on the rise, both large industry giants and small-batch distilleries are capitalizing on the trend. Friends and partners Rande Gerber (yes, Cindy Crawford’s husband and model-of-the-moment Kaia Gerber’s dad) and award-winning actor George Clooney founded Casamigos in 2013 along with real estate magnate Michael Meldman. Hopefully the threesome took a few shots of their own añejo or blanco to celebrate when Diageo acquired the company for close to $1 billion last summer. Despite selling, the trio is inherently part of the brand and remains tied to the fabric of its future. With the launch of Casamigos’ new mezcal on the horizon this spring, Gerber and I sat down at The Mercer hotel in New York City to talk tequila.
It feels like the whole tequila craze came into effect when you guys launched Casamigos. Is it true it was named after your homes in Mexico? Yes. Casamigos loosely translates to ‘house of friends.’ Our tequila wasn’t intended for the public; we made it strictly to drink and share with friends. But after word got out, we knew we had something special. At the time, George and I were building homes in Mexico, and as one does when you spend time there, we were drinking a lot of tequila. Bartenders would suggest different tequilas. They all had one thing in common: They burned going down. With that, George turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t we just make our own, one that’s perfect for us?’ So we did. We wanted the best-tasting, smoothest tequila that didn’t have to be covered up with salt or lime. Two years and 700 sample bottles later, we finally got it perfect.
How did you and George meet your third partner, Michael Meldman? Over tequila I hope! George and I met Mike while playing at one of his courses during a golf trip with friends. It was actually through a mutual friend of ours, Jerry Weintraub. Mike is a great friend and very smart. He built a great brand with Discovery Land Company and has incredible loyalty with his customers and properties.
You recently sold your company for around $1 billion. Kudos. But you are actively still a participant. What does that look like? It’s business as usual. All of us are 100 percent committed. I’m in the office every day and participate in each creative decision for the company. I’m incredibly detail-oriented, and everything we do comes from our Malibu, Calif., office to develop innovative marketing. Mike’s properties have great levels of detail in everything they do too, and Casamigos is an extension of that lifestyle.
Are the three of you equally as passionate about this new mezcal as you are about the tequila? [Yes.] Our mezcal was brought to us by a family that has made it for five generations. It’s extremely smooth, small-batch, and the perfect smokiness and easy to drink.
One last question: How do you drink your mezcal? On the rocks. No salt or lime needed.