Mr. Dorda is responsible for all aspects of Chopin, including its pioneering vision and its guiding philosophy.
When you began with the Chopin distillery, did you have a clear direction for where you wanted to take the brand?
Yes, I did. When I took charge of the distillery, it was the beginning of a wonderful journey. It was a starting place. It was a chance to develop the story into a beautiful one which could be told in such a way that the world can embrace. The story of the art of making vodka; of passion for what we do. For our national heritage, our farmers, our agricultural land, our potatoes. For a different approach, especially since we make vodka. Vodka is such a misunderstood product. People generally think that ‘vodka is vodka’; of course it is not. It’s as romantic as potato farming.
You saw potential inside of the distillery that wasn’t realized yet and you had a vision for that potential?
It’s not only about the potential inside of the distillery, but the distillery is also a tool. To tell the wonderful story of our Polish heritage, we distill what grows in our land. In our land we have rye, we have potatoes, wheat; and our passion – especially with a name like Chopin, whose music is an inspiration, so we have to live up to the name – it’s about sharing that passion with the world. It’s a way of life. And the same is true of vodka – it’s a way of life. We misunderstand it. We think that alcohol is about drinking. No, it’s about passion. It’s about addition to what we eat. It’s about pairing the food and the culture and the climate with a little bit of our national drink – which is vodka.
Could you simplify your philosophy for making vodka?
Vodka is not the “tasteless, odorless” product that we should put in the freezer before we drink it, ‘bottoms up’ – we have to discover that product for what it is, depending on the variety, and start to taste it.I think that the best comparison is probably to compare it to wine. We enjoy the process of smelling it and tasting it, and drinking it, and pairing it with food. All of those things have to be done with vodka, and then it can be paired with food. People ask, ‘do you prefer rye, or do you like potatoes?’ You don’t always drink the same wine.
And for people who don’t normally drink vodka, what would you want to tell them to explain that your vodka is something worth rediscovering?
What I’m discovering is that it’s hard to say that someone is either a whisky drinker, or a wine drinker; I think that once you get to a certain level of understanding then all of those products are interesting. We don’t always eat the same thing – you eat a variety of food. What knowledge and experience teaches us is that there is a time for vodka, there’s a time for good beer, there’s a time for good wine, there’s a time for grappas. There’s a variety of choices that we have and what I’m saying is, let’s bring vodka to the same level of appreciation. So I’m not saying to stop drinking wine, there’s a place for good wine. But, there’s also a place for good vodka.
What does the future look like for Chopin?
The future for Chopin is bright – very bright. Going throughout the world and talking about vodka, and using Chopin as the story, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about talking to people who don’t know vodka and introducing them to good product and telling them to try it. Going around the world and telling people about this Polish product and how we make it. About natural farming, how we grow it, what we do – it’s selling our Polish passion. And we do it through a product called vodka.