Even if you’re not the biggest vodka fan, you’ve probably heard of Grey Goose. Its fancy alliterated name and iconic frosted glass bottle are just two of the things that make it so recognizable. But the real reason Grey Goose is so popular is because of its opulent reputation — one of luxury, celebrity endorsements, and countless pop culture references. It’s been mentioned in lyrics by mega-stars such as Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, and Kid Cudi.
Grey Goose is a symbol of luxury, which fits its steep price and “premium” branding — the latter of which draws criticism from drinks experts who claim “premium” vodka is often the same as lower-shelf versions of the spirit, since the entire point is for vodka to be flavorless and odorless.
Nevertheless, Grey Goose remains one of the most beloved vodka brands on the market. Read on for 16 facts about the brand.
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Grey Goose wasn’t quite born in France.
The “French” vodka — which is currently produced in France — was originally the brainchild of American businessman Sidney Frank, billionaire founder of the Sidney Frank Importing Company.
Jäger and Grey Goose are step brothers.
Sidney Frank, the same guy behind the “Grey Goose” concept, started his importing company in 1972. Among his first product successes? Jägermeister. It wasn’t overnight, but Frank saw some promise in the stuff, and by the mid ‘80s, so did college kids. With a little help from a squadron of liquor ladies dubbed the “Jägerettes,” Frank brought us all the pleasure of knocking back shots of a rich, dark German liqueur in far too large a quantity.
The brand preceded the booze.
Before a single drop of Grey Goose had been distilled, the brand was already in the works. Frank had actually come up with the name first, and the rest — including the actual vodka — followed.
Grey Goose’s creator was all about French decadence and luxury.
There wasn’t a particular recipe or method that drove the creation of Grey Goose. Frank simply aimed to fill a gap he noticed in the beverage market: high-end vodka. Grey Goose is distilled in Picardy, France, but not because of any specific regional interest. As vodka is made by stripping alcohol of most of its congeners and funky flavor compounds, it can be made almost anywhere. But Frank chose a place specifically against tradition — as in, not Eastern Europe. He wanted a vodka American consumers would immediately associate with luxury. And what’s more posh than France, the home of Champagne and Burgundy?
There is a connection to France within the vodka’s production.
The wheat for Grey Goose is grown in Picardy and distilled there, before being sent to Cognac for filtration. And then there’s the fact that the water it’s made with is filtered through limestone from the Champagne region. Even the fruit used to make Grey Goose’s fruit flavors — Le Melon, Cherry Noir, and La Poire, for example — are grown in France. If Frank wanted a French luxury brand he could charge almost double the normal price for, at least the process is faithfully “French.” This excludes the L’Orange flavor, however, which is made using oranges from Florida.
There were no geese involved (or harmed) in the naming of Grey Goose.
Though some subscribe to the belief that the brand’s name was inspired by the many geese that drink from the fountain in front of Hôtel de Ville in Cognac, France, Frank himself said it was inspired by a German white wine with the same name.
It was an instant success.
It was pretty much smooth sailing for Grey Goose from the beginning. Just a year after its initial release in 1997, it was named the best tasting vodka in the world by the Beverage Tasting Institute.
For Grey Goose, image is everything.
When Grey Goose first launched, the brand specifically shipped bottles out to bars in wooden crates as opposed to cardboard boxes like most other liquor brands. The company wanted bartenders to take notice of the brand’s attention to detail and quality, with the assumption that bartenders’ perceptions would trickle down to consumers.
Grey Goose entered the market as an Absolut Competitor.
Part of the reason Frank invented Grey Goose was that he saw the success of the Absolut brand, which was priced highly for its time. Frank realized he could do one better. How to out-luxury a luxury brand? Raise the price. That’s it. Grey Goose’s then-astronomical price was $30 a bottle, compared to the $17 Absolut.
There are rumors that Grey Goose produces Costco’s vodka.
Though this may break the hearts of many Grey Goose fans who pay top dollar for the stuff (and shatter the possible chimera of its “premium” status), there are rumors abound that Grey Goose produces Costco — yes, Costco — Kirkland brand vodka, which is also imported from France. According to Vice, Kirkland vodka, which is one third the price of Grey Goose, has frequently outperformed its counterpart in blind taste-tests. Grey Goose, however, adamantly denies affiliation with the brand.
All of the Grey Goose in the world is made by under 20 people.
As of September 2020, only 17 employees worked at the distillery in La Vallee de l’Oise, France, where the entire world’s supply of Grey Goose is sourced. It looks like the brand’s exclusivity runs deep — even when it comes to employment.
Grey Goose wants to bust the mythical correlation between distillation and quality.
Grey Goose undergoes a single distillation process and claims that contrary to popular belief, the amount of times vodka is distilled has no effect on its purity or quality — rather, it’s the source of the ingredients that have more of an effect on the taste. We’re happy to report that that’s right; the amount of times vodka is distilled does not matter, despite what you might see being boasted on a “premium” vodka label.
Bacardi paid a pretty penny for the Goose that laid the golden egg.
Frank’s gamble at brand-before-booze was very successful. Hugely, in fact, since the Grey Goose label was sold to spirits giant Bacardi in 2004 — just 7 years into its product life cycle. The selling price? About $2 billion. All for a liquor that is technically (if highly secretively) defined by its colorless, flavorless, odorless “purity.”
There’s a semi-secret 16th-century Grey Goose mansion.
Le Logis is a 16th century ornate French estate nestled in the countryside of southwest France. Guests are welcomed by invitation only — which makes sense, considering the brand’s entire reputation is built on the concept of exclusivity. If you ever manage to snag a reservation, you won’t be limited to vodka during your stay. The estate is staffed with an on-site sommelier, a whiskey expert, and a Cognac expert.
Every bottle of Grey Goose is washed with… Grey Goose.
Sorry, Mr. Clean. The only liquid to ever touch a Grey Goose bottle is Grey Goose itself. The inside of every bottle is washed with the vodka once, and every cork is soaked in it before the bottle is sealed. Purity is important to these guys.
Grey Goose is a jock.
If there’s such a thing as sporty vodka, it’s this one. Grey Goose was named the official spirit of golf’s PGA Tour in 2013 and the official vodka of the ESPY Awards in 2014. The brand even released a limited edition bottle for the 2020 US Open.