When I met Stewart Skloss several years ago, I was impressed by both his business sensibility and his charming personality. And the combination is proving handy as he launches a new brand of premium tequila, Pura Vida.
Skloss’ persuasive business sense revealed itself at a young age when, while a student at the University of Texas, he convinced his parents to let him spend a semester at the Universidad de Autonoma de Guadalajara in Mexico. He so loved the country and the culture that one semester stretched to two years.
During a road trip to Puerto Vallarta, Skloss stumbled upon the town of Tequila, Mexico. Immediately embracing the fact that a Mexican town called "Tequila" actually exists, Skloss thought it only appropriate to sign up for a two-hour tequila sampling.
Conveniently, his travel companion, a U.S. diplomat to Mexico, had some pull. He was able to acquire invitations to several more tequila distilleries, and the two-hour tasting morphed into a two-day fiesta. Dos Hermanos Tequila was founded as a result, but at just 20 years old, Skloss' interest quickly turned to other things.
It would be 20 years before the forgotten brand would eventually grow into Pura Vida Tequila.
Fast forward to October 2009 when Skloss, who was by now a successful Houston-based businessman in the energy industry, was working on a technology deal with John Paul DeJoria (whom you'll recognize from the Paul Mitchell commercials). Continuing Skloss' lucky streak of knowing the right people at the right time, DeJoria just so happened to be the co-founder and principal owner of one of the world’s largest tequila companies — Patrón.
Skloss was fascinated by DeJoria’s tales of the tequila business and left the meeting, which was supposed to be about technology, with a renewed interest in tequila. He picked up where he left off 20 years before and set a goal to sample every tequila he could find, eventually landing in the highlands of Jalisco. He met the Vivanco family, owners of the Feliciano Vivanco y Associados agave plantation and distillery, and formed a business partnership.
Pura Vida, or pure life, is a triple-distilled blue agave tequila. It's made with a five-stage water purification system and has zero additives for an extra smooth taste enjoyed best with a swig of sangrita.
Adding a touch of mystery to the budding brand, we know that silent investors range from the former CEO of a Fortune 500 Energy Company to a rock 'n’ roll hall of famer.
Pura Vida is available in Silver, Gold, Anejo and soon, Extra Anejo, and hits the market in San Antonio this week. It will be available at Spec’s, Richard’s and most Houston liquor stores in early 2011. Look for a sangrita, margarita mix and margarita mix light (less than 100 calories per margarita for you skinny margarita fans) by the brand to follow shortly.
Pura Vida retails at $29 for the Silver Tequila, $32 for Gold and $36 for Anejo.