- There has long been a rumour that a CostcoKirkland-brand vodka imported from France is produced by the high-end brand Grey Goose.
- Vodka enthusiasts say this is why Costco’s Kirkland vodka tastes so good. It has frequently defeated Grey Goose in blind taste tests despite being a third of the price.
- Grey Goose has denied that it produces Costco’s Kirkland blend.
- One spirits expert said it isn’t worth paying for premium vodkas because the spirit is by definition odourless and tasteless.
There has long been a rumour that a Costco vodka imported from France is produced by the high-end brand Grey Goose.
Vodka enthusiasts say this is why Costco’s Kirkland bottle tastes so good. It has frequently defeated Grey Goose in blind tastings despite being a third of the price: Costco’s 1.75-litre French vodka costs $US19.99, while you can expect to pay about $US60 for the same-size bottle of Grey Goose, which is owned by Bacardi.
Grey Goose’s website poetically describes the process of making the spirit: “Single-origin soft wheat” is picked in the Picardy region of northern France, or “the bread-basket of France,” distilled once, then sent to Cognac to be blended with spring water from the brand’s own well.
Joe McCanta, a global ambassador for Grey Goose, told Business Insider that the company does not produce the Kirkland blend and that Grey Goose has exclusive access to its own well directly beneath the Grey Goose blending facility.
“This water source was carefully chosen for its purity and extraordinary quality, and no other vodka brands in the region have access,” another Grey Goose representative told Business Insider.
A representative for Costco declined to comment on this.
marketing prof taught me that grey goose makes kirkland vodka so I'm omw to Costco
— reg (@rcruzr418) January 19, 2017
While people on the internet are still adamant that the rumour could be true, one expert told Business Insider that it ultimately doesn’t matter because there isn’t much difference between expensive and cheap vodkas anyway.
“Vodka is purely marketing – there is nothing special about it,”Fred Minnick, a bestselling author and spirits-tasting expert, told Business Insider. “It is meant to be thrown in with something else and take on the character of whatever it is mixed with.”
Minnick said that vodka is by definition an odourless and tasteless liquor. It is distilled at the same high proof point as ethanol. Distilling at a higher proof strips more character off the base, meaning the taste of the ingredients won’t shine through, he said. Therefore, there is no real benefit in spending more on brands that claim to use premium ingredients.
“When you buy vodka, you are basically paying for someone’s fat salary and the marketing associated with it,” he said. This could be why Costco’s Kirkland vodka, at under $US20, frequently gets rave reviews and beats out more expensive brands in tastings.
“This is not a spirit that was meant to be tasty,” Minnick added. “It was meant to be bare – an intoxicant that you could sip without even knowing that you are sipping it.”
McCanta disagreed, saying Grey Goose is known for having a rich and full body because of its unique production process. Plus, “all spirits start off as a vodka,” he said. “Essentially, you are saying that the base ingredient doesn’t matter for every single spirit, and I think many fine spirit producers would disagree with that as well.”
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