There’s quite a controversy about vodka. It has a taste, no doubt, but many are certain that it doesn’t have a flavor. However, if you speak to a liquor connoisseur, they’d tell you that every vodka is unique and that its base ingredients and distilling process are what create the end result.
Rye, corn, and potatoes are all typical ingredients that vodka is made from, and they can all contribute to a different profile. Although it might be subtle, there is a distinction. While there may be an argument about flavor, there is one element that many seem to agree on. In the case of quality, you can definitely taste the difference.
Whatever your stance is, it’s obvious that vodka is considered a ‘neutral spirit,’ which means it’s a solid option for a variety of mixers and cocktail recipes. Its absence of signature flavor means it almost always goes well with other tastes, giving it a versatility that not all spirits have.
This flexibility appeals to a variety of drinkers and is one of the reasons why vodka is so frequently consumed today. In fact, it was named the most popular spirit in the world due to its versatility from the relative lack of flavor. In 2019, vodka was the best-selling distilled spirit in the United States.
What’s the hype?
So, what’s so special about premium-labeled vodkas like Cîroc and Grey Goose? Anyone who’s heard of them would know that their reputations sit a step above the average vodka brand. First off, the price is notably higher. While other popular vodkas like Smirnoff cost under 20 dollars for a 1.75-liter bottle, the same quantities of Cîroc and Grey Goose are priced upwards of 45.
While this might turn away the average consumer, for others, it’s a signal of luxury, showing that the high price is merited by the remarkable quality. And there must be some truth to it— even with exceptional marketing, in order to sell something at a high price point, your product has to be able to prove its worth. Statistics show that this hasn’t been a problem for either brand in the past, as both sold over 1.5 million cases in just 2019 alone.
As for products, both brands offer an original vodka as well as a multitude of flavors. Cîroc has eight additional flavors, such as Mango, Watermelon, and Amaretto, while Grey Goose has six, with varieties such as La Poire (pear), Le Citron (lemon), and Le Vanille (vanilla). Both plain vodkas are classified as 80 proof. However, Ciroc’s flavored infusions are only 70.
Heritage and brand history
It’s clear from a first glance that both Cîroc and Grey Goose assert a high-class look—their tall, sleek bottles look superior when compared to a bottom-shelf brand. Furthermore, both labels proudly boast a heritage of French culture. When consumers think of France, many associate it with luxury and fine wines. Wine itself is often distinguished by its background, earning value from its age, legacy, or namesake. Cîroc and Grey Goose take after this example with their own brands, aiming to be trusted for their esteemed history.
Cîroc defines itself by this history, as Jean-Sebastien Robicquet, who founded the company in 2003, comes from a long lineage of winemakers and distillers in the French region of Bordeaux. Recognized for several achievements in the wine industry, the Cîroc brand takes pride in Robicquet’s expertise. Cîroc is manufactured by Diageo, a multinational company with a portfolio of over 200 beverage alcohol brands.
Grey Goose also highlights its French roots at the forefront of its brand; however, the company itself was actually founded by American businessman Sydney Frank. He created the idea in 1997, partnering with French Maître de Chais Francois Thibault to produce the recipe. Thibault originally produced cognac, and Grey Goose was his first venture into vodka production. While the product would originate from France, Frank’s idea was to fill the gap in the American marketplace for a luxury vodka. Eventually, Grey Goose went on to be sold to Bacardi Limited in 2004, which bought the company for $2 billion.
What’s the difference?
Despite their similar reputations, there are some main differences between the two competitors. One major difference lies in their ingredients. Grey Goose, like many other vodkas, is made with grain, using wheat as its base. The company specifically uses winter wheat grown in Picardy, France, which grows for an additional four months compared to summer wheat.
Once distilled, it is blended with natural spring water from the company’s own limestone well. Despite the use of wheat, Grey Goose is gluten-free. Cîroc, however, is distilled from grapes, specifically Mauzac Blanc and Ugni Blanc grapes from the French regions of Gaillac and Cognac. These grapes are harvested and turned into wine, which is then distilled into vodka. Ciroc’s website describes its vodka as having a fresh, citrusy flavor.
Another notable difference between the two is their distillation processes. Cîroc is distilled no less than five times before producing the end result, a method in which the company claims is vital for ensuring optimal flavor. Grey Goose, on the other hand, takes a different approach. Unlike Cîroc, their vodka is distilled in one continuous process.
In fact, they even seem to use this as a marketing jab to other vodkas, stating that “if you need to distill more than once, you need better ingredients.” While Cîroc seems to focus more on the revered craftsmanship of their product, Grey Goose instead emphasizes their use of the finest, purest ingredients. However, Cîroc does use the slogan “go against the grain,” referring to their use of grapes, unlike their wheat-based competitor.
Cîroc and Grey Goose in popular culture
Cîroc and Grey Goose are nothing new to pop culture, as you might have heard the names thrown into hip hop lyrics or endorsed by celebrities. In 2007, Cîroc took on Sean “Diddy” Combs as a brand ambassador, which led them to a booming increase in sales. Combs, who has described himself as a “luxury brand builder,” gains a whopping 50 percent of Ciroc’s profits to oversee its lifestyle branding and marketing. His contributions did wonders for the company, boosting its reputation to a status of glamor and celebratory indulgence.
Grey Goose has had its fair share of buzz as well. The label is frequently mentioned in hip hop music, like American rapper Jeezy’s 2003 hit appropriately named “Grey Goose.” In the song “Royals,” pop singer Lorde references it as a common symbol of the extravagant lifestyles that are present in pop and hip-hop culture. Other artists that have mentioned Grey Goose in their music include T-Pain, Ludacris, and Snoop Dogg, to name a few.
<h2>Cîroc Vs. Grey Goose: Cheers To Both</h2>
Both brands have a history of success behind them, and it’s no question why they’ve topped the charts for high-end vodkas. If you haven’t tried them yet and have been wondering whether or not to give them a chance, they’re most likely worth a shot (or two). If drinking it straight isn’t your style, then check out these brand-approved cocktails below that will definitely leave you satisfied.
“The Diddy” Cocktail
- 1.5 oz Cîroc Vodka
- 1.5 oz lemonade
Combine Cîroc vodka and lemonade in a highball glass filled with ice. Stir and garnish with a fresh lemon wheel.
- 2.5 parts Grey Goose Vodka
- .5 parts Martini & Rossi Extra Dry Vermouth
- Dash of orange bitters
Add Grey Goose vodka, vermouth, and orange bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Serve garnished with a lemon twist.