5 Feb 2021
EXCLUSIVE VILLA ONE FEATURE AT FOOD & BEVERAGE MAGAZINE FEBRUARY ISSUE
Love—of music, family, fashion, and tequila—brought singer and actor Nick Jonas and fashion designer John Varvatos together as friends and collaborators. After creating a clothing line, two fragrances, and the Jonas Brothers’ documentary, Happiness Begins, collaborating for a new spirit brand was next. Partnering with Stoli Group, Villa One tequilas with three varieties—silver, añejo, and reposado—has been launched.
The decision was made not to include Jonas or name in the brand because both felt that the Villa One brand could stand on its own. “The product is the star, and we are the support. As we like to say, the magic is in the bottle,” explains Varvatos.
A chance meeting at dinner in New York City five years ago brought Jonas and Varvatos together.
“We were sitting next to each other and connected over music, family, fashion, and tequila. We didn’t talk with anyone else that evening,” says Varvatos. “The next day, Nick [Jonas] invited me to a recording studio to listen to some music he was working on. He had a bottle of tequila waiting, and we had a great afternoon together. Nick then visited my design studio, and we started discussing the potential for collaboration. It’s really been an amazing journey in creativity, learning, passion, and friendship.”
After creating some very successful projects, Jonas thought about starting a tequila brand and creating something truly best in class. Varvatos enthusiastically joined Jonas on this new venture.
Jonas has always been a fan of tequila because he considers it the cleanest of the spirits. As a person with type one diabetes, Jonas focused on trying to live a healthy life and chose tequila because of the agave of it all as well as lower in calories and carb count. Varvatos was introduced to tequila during a trip to Mexico in 1990 and has been drinking the spirit ever since, trying new tequila brands.
While some might call it fate, or the stars aligned just right, but the two of them approached the Stoli Group and presented their idea for the brand and vision overall at the perfect time. Stoli had just purchased the Fabrica de Tequilas Finos distillery in Jalisco, Mexico. Stoli introduced them to Master Distiller Arturo Fuentes (who runs Stoli Group’s Fabrica de Tequilas Finos distillery in Jalisco, Mexico) and they were both impressed with his knowledge and expertise.
“In our first meeting, we were thrilled and honored to have such an experienced and brilliant master distiller part of our Villa One team. He’s truly incredible,” says Jonas. “I think all three of the expressions in our portfolio are really approachable, and there’s a softness to them while still having that robust feel.”
The silver offers a clean, slightly fruity taste. As Jonas explains, “There is no aging process for the silver. The key for us was to create something very simple and clean and not mask the alcohol with other flavors, like vanilla, that other brands use to infuse their silver or blanco to make it smoother. Ours is just naturally smooth because of Arturo’s [Fuentes] brilliance and his experience. He comes from a cognac background, so he knows exactly how to create a full-bodied liquid that still has a simplicity and purity to it.”
“It is in Arturo’s blending and his use of the agaves from the highlands and lowlands,” adds Varvatos.
Fuentes also selected American oak barrels for the aging of the reposado and añejo. With the blend of agaves from the highlands and the lowlands, and the notes of each type of tequila, the oak is a key to their smooth finish and color.
“Having the experience of walking through the distillery with Arturo and specifically going through our barrels was such an amazing thing to experience. Then to actually see that liquid come to life and be out there in the market is a special thing,” says Jonas.
Villa One’s reposado, aged six to nine months, offers subtle fruity notes of butterscotch and cinnamon. The añejo, aged nine to 12 months, features hints of vanilla, banana, and caramel finished with dark chocolate and honey.
“Our añejo is special for many reasons. It is a robust drink, but it also isn’t overwhelming with some of those sweeter notes, the chocolate and vanilla, but you also get a great warmth reminiscent of scotch or bourbon. It’s a cool thing to see people coming from those preferences coming to the añejo and really loving it,” says Jonas.
However, just as important as the taste and quality of the spirit inside the bottle is its design and packaging. It made sense the Varvatos spearheaded the design with his background. Its hallmark logo is glass engraved with a signature artisanal neck ring. He infused different elements of the heavy metal cap, creating the ring detail so that when the cap is taken off, a luxurious and inspirational element is showcased as well as being simple and attainable. The bottle design represents the kind of attention to detail about packaging for the Villa One brand.
As for pairing with food, both had definite opinions and choices. Jonas and Varvatos recommend pairing spicy food and fish with the silver. Jonas suggests that, according to taste, Spanish, Mexican, and Latin cuisines will pair nicely with all three expressions of the line. Varvatos recommends that reposado is amazing with meat and poultry, and añejo is great for sipping late in the evening.
As for launching Villa One, Jonas is philosophical. “I think it was a natural interest for us, this tequila space, and a desire to learn more. It was fun to think about using all of our experiences in different fields and applying all of that focus and attention to detail to our work with Villa One and creating this brand. There were many examples of times when we could apply a design approach or perhaps the exciting electric energy of the music business, specifically live performance, and take all of that and try to bottle that up into something that can really make people happy. Becoming an important part of their life and being a part of that type of experience is really amazing.
Their mutual love of tequila, the partnership with Stoli Group, and Master Distiller Arturo Fuentes’ guidance is summed up by Varvatos. “I think the most important part of our backgrounds that influenced the creation of Villa One is our shared passion for raising the bar and creating things that are best in their class.”
For more information and to find Villa One, visit villaonetequila.com.