Nowadays, news of celebrities launching spirits brands is as common as Marvel movies. But just how many of these bottles live up to the hype of their starry endorsements? VinePair decided to find out.
We assembled a panel of industry professionals to taste a range of spirits, from tequilas to aged whiskeys to grape vodka. Each was sampled at room temperature to highlight any of the off-flavors that might not be detected when sipped ice cold. All average prices listed are based on Wine-Searcher.com data, where available.
Ready to find out which bottles deserve a place on the red carpet? Here are 10 of the best celebrity spirits brands, tasted and ranked.
Launched by George Clooney, Randy Gerber, and Mike Meldman in 2013, Casamigos Tequila is a major success story. Four years after its debut, Diageo, the world’s largest spirits conglomerate, acquired the brand for a reported $1 billion. Of its blanco, reposado, and añejo bottles, VinePair tasters gravitated toward the blanco because of its approachable flavor profile. “I wish this was the tequila I was drinking in college,” one taster said. Average price: $44.
Irish mixed martial arts star and former UFC champion Conor McGregor launched his Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey in September 2018. It proved to be a shrewd investment: That same year, Irish whiskey sales topped $1 billion in the U.S. for the first time in history. McGregor’s blend of bourbon-cask-aged grain and single- malt whiskey offers a pleasant, easy-drinking introduction to Irish whiskey and also pours a delicious Irish coffee. Sláinte! Average price: $25.
In addition to a luxury Champagne brand, Jay-Z has partial ownership of Cognac D’Ussé (pronounced dew-say), which the rapper launched with Bacardí in 2012. The finer details of the partnership are unknown, but the quality of the liquor inside the dome-shaped bottle is crystal clear. The spirit has a powerful bouquet of toasted, woody notes and a sweet, smooth texture. “It tastes like brown sugar and toasted pecans,” one taster commented. “I love it.” Average price: $54.
In 2018, 18.5 million 9-liter cases of tequila sold in America. Aiming to take a slice of the profitable pie, pop star Rita Ora launched her Próspero tequila brand along with spirits marketing firm Conecuh Brands in early 2019. Próspero’s Blanco tequila left a lasting impression on VinePair tasters, who enjoyed its aromas of dried banana chips, and fresh spearmint flavors. Average price: $35.
Matthew McConaughey has served as the creative director at Wild Turkey since 2016. His work began in front of the camera, starring in television commercials, but in 2018, he launched his first release, Longbranch Bourbon. The spirit’s unique filtration sees it processed through American white oak and Texas mesquite charcoal. The result is a silky smooth bourbon, rich in caramel and toffee aromas and sweet honey and orange flavors. We love it in an Old Fashioned, too. Average price: $40.
Launched in September 2019 by five former NBA rivals (Michael Jordan, Jeanie Buss, Wes Edens, Emilia Fazzalari, and Wyc Grousbeck), Cincoro is a luxury spirits brand offering high-end tequila. Its blanco expression, which retails at $70, justifies its admittedly lofty price tag, with complex aromas of green bell pepper and grapefruit pith. On the palate, the blanco tequila has a luscious mouthfeel and no hint of alcohol burn, even when sipped neat at room temperature. Average price: $70.
Founded by actor Dan Aykroyd and artist John Alexander in 2007, Crystal Head Vodka’s skull-shaped bottle was polarizing among VinePair tasters. Some of the group thought the packaging was “campy,” while others felt it would “look cool on a living room bar cart.” All agreed on the quality of the vodka, however, which has a citrus-forward profile, seasoned with a little white pepper. A smooth sipper with well-integrated alcohol, this bottle will make you rethink vodka as a “serious” spirit. Average price: $40.
In 2018, nearly 50 years after he released Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan debuted a Tennessee bourbon as part of his Heaven’s Door Spirits brand. A joint venture with Spirits Investment Partnership, the brand also offers a Double Barrel Whiskey and Straight Rye Whiskey. Of the three, VinePair tasters favored the Straight Rye, which has bright, fresh, floral aromas and a “distinct rye bite” on the palate. Average price: $77.
Hip-hop artist and mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs has an estimated fortune of over $800 million, thanks in no small part to his Cîroc vodka brand, which is manufactured by Diageo. The five-times-distilled vodka, which is made using grape spirit, is floral and perfumed, with fruity raspberry and rose petal notes. Average price: $32.
Named after a classic pre-Prohibition cocktail, Aviation is a pioneering gin brand that introduced the world to the “New Western Dry,” or “American Dry” style, in 2006. For casual drinkers, Aviation is likely more recognizable for its connection to Ryan Reynolds, who bought a major stake in the company in 2018. Citrus fruits, pepper, and spice lead the spirit’s aromas, while the palate is defined by orange peel and a faint kiss of juniper-infused simple syrup. This is the perfect bottle for drinkers who have been put off gin by the bitter notes of London dry gins. Average price: $28.