When buying booze, it can be hard to know what exactly you're purchasing. That "craft" whiskey with an old-timey label and backstory that you've never noticed before but now sits front and center at your local liquor store? Like many other whiskeys that seemingly arrive out of nowhere, it probably originated from one giant warehouse complex in Indiana. In terms of taste, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it raises many questions about branding and marketing.
Vodka is a whole different story, and branding is even more crucial as vodka, more than any other liquor, is often considered a status symbol. Here's some bad news if you've been paying a premium for that svelte bottle of silky smooth Grey Goose: It's made from the same water source as Costo's Kirkland Signature Vodka and has received lower ratings than the Costco house brand on many blind taste tests. Oh, and Grey Goose costs more than twice as much.
The rumors that Costco's Kirkland Signature Vodka and Grey Goose have more in common than you'd think have been floating around for some time, and the alcohol research site Under the Label puts Grey Goose and Kirkland Signature Vodka head to head for a moment of reckoning. Comparing aggregate rankings from prestigious booze industry competitions where spirits are graded by blind taste testing, Kirkland scores an 88 to Grey Goose's 82. The comparison also includes the tasty tidbit that both vodkas source water from the Gensac Springs in France's Cognac region.
A water source is about all that the vodkas have in common, though. Grey Goose clarified to MUNCHIES that they source their water from an exclusive well in the Gensac area. Grey Goose also uses wheat of the highest certification sourced from three farming cooperatives, and it's milled using a proprietary method. Ultimately distillation takes place at a facility some 800 kilometers away from where Kirkland is distilled.
"Since its creation in 1997, Grey Goose has been produced with the finest French ingredients, using a proprietary recipe and process that was designed by our Cellar Master, Francois Thibault, who tastes every batch to ensure its quality," Grey Goose told MUNCHIES by email. "We encourage consumers to choose the vodka that they most enjoy."
Of course, taste is subjective, and it'll be up to you to decide what tastes better. But although industry experts and economics would seem to suggest that Kirkland is a better buy than Grey Goose, Kirkland just doesn't look as good behind a velvet rope next to a selection of mixers and Red Bull.