Piotr manages Chopin’s existing export markets while working to develop distribution partners in new regions.
What does it mean for you to build the family business, and how is that different from working in the other places where you have worked?
Because it’s a family business, apart from it being a job, it’s also part of my life. It’s not a 9-5 job; I spend some weekends at the distillery and travel to see clients. My uncle and my cousins are all involved in the business, so it gives us extra time to spend together.
America is the largest market for Chopin?
America and Canada – this is the largest part of the business.
Are there differences between Poland and North America in the way that vodka is drunk?
I would say so; especially in the old days. Poland used to be a country where you would take shots of vodka; we are accustomed to drinking vodka straight. While in the US, vodka is usually mixed, from very simple vodka martinis to very fancy cocktails. The cocktail scene in Poland is growing quite vigorously.
What makes Chopin Vodka different from other vodkas on the market?
We’re genuine. We’re small. We’re a family business. We do everything ourselves, which is very rare these days. We start in the fields around the distillery, digging up the potatoes, picking up the rye, the wheat, distilling it, bottling, selling. It’s very rare these days to have a vodka company doing this from the very beginning to the very end, and that allows us to control the whole process.
So you have the quality control, but the scale is also different?
You can’t do as much of it [making vodka] as the competition does, but this way we know exactly what we put in every bottle.
What Chopin product do you most like? What is your signature drink?
I am often asked this question, but the answer is not so simple. I always ask, “for what purpose?” “when?” “with whom?”, because it all depends. If I drink vodka straight, or make a simple cocktail, then I’ll use the potato – so, potato on the rocks or a straight-up martini. If I can, I’ll add some blue cheese stuffed olives. If I’m with friends and we want to make cocktails then I’ll usually go with the rye, because it’s a bit more spicy, a bit more peppery, so it shines nicely through the cocktail. If I’m with people who don’t usually drink vodka then I’ll go for the wheat to show them that vodka can be light, sweet and pleasant.
What’s your vision for Chopin for the future?
There’s a lot of the world left for us. So, I am excited about growing the business in new directions.