Meet the Makers

"Let’s start talking about vodka in the way that we should talk about it; the story is rich and colorful and as long as any distillation process in the world. Let’s learn from other nations who have their own products who so wonderfully talk about what they’ve made. For them it’s a way of life; and the same is true of Polish vodka - it’s a way of life." Tad Dorda - President of Chopin Vodka

Tad Dorda - President of Chopin Vodka

In order to better understand ‘the way of life’ of craft vodka-makers, we conducted a series of interviews that explores the lives of some of the people responsible for crafting Chopin Vodka. The aim, as expressed by Tad Dorda, is to talk about vodka in a different way – in a way that explores the seasonal changes that effect the flavor of vodka ingredients, the passions of the ‘makers’ as they work towards perfection, and the shared vision to create a work of skill and beauty.
"For me, embracing this product, this vodka called Chopin, was the beginning of a passionate journey. People will laugh about it and ask what is romantic about potatoes? It’s as romantic or passionate as growing grapes. The same energy goes into it." Tad Dorda - President of Chopin Vodka

Jerzy Golbiak – Professional Hunter & Neighbor

When creating exceptional vodka, the quality of the ingredients is of utmost importance. We have strong relationships with the farmers who work in the Podlasie soil to provide us with our wheat, rye and potatoes. Each ingredient is distinctive, representing seasonal characteristics through their unique and complex flavors. Mr. Golbiak is a professional hunter living in the Podlasie region near the distillery and is also working to develop the young potatoes used in Chopin’s single-distilled vodka. Golbiak explains that the absence of monoculture farming and large industrial farms in the regions means that animals can roam freely between the small fields, contributing to the health of the ecology.
"There can be good potatoes, average potatoes and fantastic potatoes. Wild boar can smell and feel that in the area there are these three different qualities of potatoes. Even if they are planted next to each other, they will take the potatoes that are grown with only natural inputs, without industrial additives. They’ll walk straight for one kilometer, eat the good potatoes, and leave the others in the soil."
Jerzy Golbiak - Professional Hunter and Potato Farmer

Henryk Grochowski – Wheat Farmer

Janusz Ługowski – Rye Farmer
Mr. Grochowski supplies wheat to our distillery and Mr. Ługowski supplies rye. Both have family owned and operated farms located within two miles of the distillery. Mr. Grochowski explained that his grandfather arrived in Krzesk in 1924, before the Second World War and established his farm. Mr. Ługowski was also born and raised on his farm, working the land from childhood as his three children now also do with him.

Marek & Mateusz Wierzejski (son) - Potato Farmer & Distillery Employee

Mr. Wierzejski is a local potato farmer whose wife, Alicja, and son, Mateusz, also work at the distillery. We asked him what makes a great potato:
"Potatoes should be planted in warm soil. At the beginning, the potato doesn’t need humidity, but if the potato is dry in July then this isn’t good. On the other hand, if there is too much water then the amount of starch is less, so there has to be a good balance between wet and dry in order to produce good potatoes." Marek Wierzejski - Potato Farmer

Leszek Osiński – Distillery Manager

Once the ingredients arrive at the distillery, Mr. Osiński, the Distillery Manager, oversees the distillation process. The distillery is small, operated by only ten people – three administrators and seven people working in the distillery. Mr. Osiński was mentored by the previous distillery manager in the traditional methods of distillation. He explains that the Chopin distillery is one of only a few which have survived:
"In general, in Poland there were a large number of distilleries. The number diminished because of the high excise taxation as well as a lack of strategic planning for distilled spirit." Leszek Osiński – Distillery Manager

Alicja Wierzejska - Distillery Kitchen & Guest Services

While Mr. Osiński manages the distillery, Mrs. Alicja Wierzejska harvests fruits and vegetables from the distillery garden, transforming them in the kitchen into culinary treasures for the distillery’s special guests. It is Mrs. Wierzejska who elevates the distillery from workplace to home, infusing it with her soulful care and attention and abundance of beautiful food. Prior to her decade of work in the distillery, Mrs. Wierzejska was employed for twenty years at Chopin’s production facility down the road in Siedlce. When we spoke with her she was in high spirits:
"Autumn is the best season for cooking food from the garden; it’s a time when I can go wild in the kitchen. At the moment, everything in the garden is ready to eat. Today I’m making jams and juices from cherries and blueberries." Alicja Wierzejska - Distillery Kitchen & Guest Services

Waldemar Durakiewicz – Master Distiller

At the factory in Siedlce, Master Distiller Waldemar Durakiewicz oversees new projects and manages the existing distillations. Durakiewicz has been recognized as the father of luxury vodka, having developed the distillation process that is used to create luxury vodka, while also introducing the trademark tall, frosted bottle. When asked about this accolade he responded:
"This is true. Not only in Poland, but worldwide. I do everything from my heart, so I am proud of everything that I make. Chopin was and is the first brand that created the category of super-premium vodka. There wasn’t anything like this before Chopin." Waldemar Durakiewicz – Master Distiller

Wiesława Jeruzalska – Technical Lab Manager (left) & Ewa Goszczyńska - Head of the Laboratory (right)

The production of Chopin Vodka is overseen by the ‘Ladies of the Lab’, Ewa Goszczyńska and Wiesława Jeruzalska. Mrs. Goszczyńska is head of the laboratory and quality control, while Wiesława develops new directions through experimentation with new ingredients and innovations in distillation and infusion techniques. When asked about how they capture the flavors of the Podlasie region, Mrs. Goszczyńska replies:
"We only have the potatoes and fruits and flowers from our region. The flavor of the distillation depends upon the year of harvest. It is quite a different taste and smell from year to year. These flavors can be felt the most in our Young Potato and Singles lines." Ewa Goszczyńska - Head of the Laboratory

Wojtek Dorda – Regional Sales Manager

Once Chopin Vodka is produced and bottled, it is then sent into the world to be sipped and mixed by its connoisseurs. As a family-run business, cousins Alexandra, Piotr and Wojtek Dorda, work together to place Chopin Vodka onto the tables of those who most appreciate it. Wojtek explains:
"We are working to build good relationships with our customers by showing them that the vodka inside of our bottle is special – it’s more important than its packaging. I would like people to know that we are producing our vodka from the very beginning. So, we’re not a factory that is buying spirit, rectifying it, putting it into bottles and then selling it - we’re doing everything from the very beginning. We’re planting potatoes, harvesting them, and then we produce the vodka." Wojtek Dorda – Regional Sales Manager

Piotr Dorda – Export Specialist

When Piotr talks about the future directions for Chopin Vodka a smile spreads across his face:
"We’re present in over thirty countries at the moment, so there’s a lot of the world left for us. We’re unlocking new markets and showing people that not all vodkas are the same; it really matters what you make it from, building up the awareness that if you want to make a good vodka you need to start with a good ingredient." Piotr Dorda – Export Specialist

Alexandra Dorda – Brand Manager

While these snapshots of our ‘makers’ tell our story of Polish craftsmanship, it is their passion for making excellent vodka and their attention to detail that are truly Chopin’s secret ingredients. Alexandra Dorda summarizes the spirit of Chopin beautifully:
"We are distillers, which is very rare. Vodka is one of the largest spirits categories in the world and most people don’t know that most vodkas aren’t made by the brands themselves; so making our own vodka is something that we’re very proud of.

We have a very close relationship with the farmers that work with us. We’re very close to the ingredients that we use to make our vodka; we always use the freshest, best quality ingredients in our vodka.

I think that our philosophy is very different from other vodka companies. We’re not about making our company as big as possible. We believe that the flavor of our vodka is important, and that it’s important to show people that not all vodkas are the same." Alexandra Dorda – Brand Manager