Actor George Clooney is a well-known tequila connoisseur. He enjoys it so much that he spent two years researching the industry in order to make his own tequila, “Casamigos,” with business partner Rande Gerber and real estate developer Mike Meldman. An idea that was initially supposed to be for personal consumption spun into a business that the trio just sold for $1 billion.
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“Casamigos really started by accident as far as a company,” Gerber explained to the press at the time. The concept for the business started when Clooney and Gerber were neighbors in Mexico, vacationing with their families.
During their vacations, Clooney and Gerber drank a lot of tequila, as it was always the most recommended liquor in every bar they frequented in Mexico.
“Some were good, some not so good, and some expensive. There came a point where George turned to me and said, ‘Why don’t we create one that’s perfect for us?'” Gerber told CNBC. The two then spent two years studying the industry and sampling over 700 types of tequila.
They were looking for a recipe that didn’t leave a bad aftertaste or cause a hangover the next morning. Once the duo had that recipe, they began producing the product for their friends and families.
Then, after the popularity of the tequila that loosely translates to “house of friends” hit its peak, Clooney and Gerber decided to begin importing 1,000 bottles a year into the UK. They were told by the distillery in Mexico that they would need to secure an alcohol license if they wanted to import.
In 2013, Casamigos began to be sold to the public and was well received, so well that a 750-milliliter bottle of their tequila sells for $45 to $55 in the US and is available in 20 countries.
Diageo PLC, the global leader in beverage alcohol, took note of the quality of the tequila and the success that Clooney and Gerber were having importing their brand and made them an offer to buy the rights to their tequila. According to a press release, Diageo called the brand, “the fastest growing super-premium tequila brand in the US.”
The trio were offered $700 million upfront and the other $300 million contingent on sales of the tequila over the next decade. Clooney, Gerber, and Meldman all agreed to the terms and are equal partners in the company. All three of the business partners will rake in $233 million once the sale is finalized later this year.
In a statement to Deadline, Clooney spoke about the billion-dollar sale stating: “This reflects Diageo’s belief in our company and our belief in Diageo. But we’re not going anywhere. We’ll still be very much a part of Casamigos. Starting with a shot tonight. Maybe two.”