When Michael Borja, bass player extraordinaire for Louden Swain, announced in May this year that he and two friends had started a liquor company, Papo J’s, we knew immediately that we had to get our hands on a bottle of the vodka. After being completely delighted with the taste, we procured an interview with Borja about Papo J’s. Borja also asked Jota Shohtoku and Dave Osmena, who co-created Papo J’s to answer some of the questions as well!
Nerds and Beyond: What inspired you to create Papo Js?
Michael Borja: A spirit distilled from coconut nectar has been part of the Philippines for hundreds of years. The trees are mainly unfertilized, and pesticides are not used. They are sometimes called the “lazy man’s trees” because they do not require much to grow. The trees produce year round. The coconut industry is fairly sustainable. Until recently the industry remained fairly uncontrolled. We became interested upon seeing some products with good quality controls. After trying several distilleries we found one we are proud to work with and share with our friends in the US.
Nerds and Beyond: How do you know the other two men involved with Papo Js?
Michael Borja: Jota Shohtoku, Dave Osmena and I met at work and have remained friends for almost 20 years.
Nerds and Beyond: Where does the name come from?
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Michael Borja: “Papo” is Dave’s childhood nickname. “J” is a prominent letter in Borja and Jota. It was meant as place holder when started the working on the project, but somehow never changed.
Nerds and Beyond: What’s your favorite cocktail made with Papo Js?
Michael Borja: [I] like it with mint, lime, sparkling soda, and simple syrup much like a Mojito. Jota’s favorite way to drink PJ is with cold brewed coffee and a bit of coconut water. Dave likes it with lime and coconut water. It’s also great tasting neat sipping and sitting in a circle sharing stories and filling each other’s cups.
Nerds and Beyond: For those who haven’t tried it, how would you describe the taste?
Michael Borja: Papo J’s is unique flavor. It is made from the nectar of the flower, not the coconut fruit so does not have a coconut flavor or liqueur sweetness. The nectar is collected by hand, naturally fermented without added yeasts and distilled. It has fresh, clean and bright introduction that leaves you with a soothing warmth.
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Nerds and Beyond: Any plans for future products?
Michael Borja: Introducing a truly unique product and making a market for it is a lot of work. We are focused on this one product at the moment.
Nerds and Beyond: We here at Nerds and Beyond love our quick-fire questions. Here are some of our favorites for you.
Who is your favorite superhero?
Michael Borja: Captain Underpants, Deadpool, Captain Kangaroo
Nerds and Beyond: Last TV show you binge-watched?
Michael Borja: Saved by the Bell the College Years
Nerds and Beyond: What’s your favorite Dad joke?
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Michael Borja: Two snails were robbed by two turtles. When the cops came, all they could say was “I don’t know, it all happened so fast”.
Nerds and Beyond: Last band or artist you listened to?
Michael Borja: The Archies, Louden Swain
We are so grateful to Borja, Jota and Dave for taking time out of their busy schedules to chat with us. We look forward to their business expanding and more people tasting the deliciousness that is Papo J’s.
You can see more about Papo J’s and their products by visiting their website!