Grey Goose is a brand of vodka produced in France. It was created in the 1990s by Sidney Frank, who sold it in 2004 to Bacardi. The Maître de Chais for Grey Goose is François Thibault, who developed the original recipe for the vodka in Cognac, France.
Grey Goose was created by Sidney Frank Importing Co (SFIC). Sidney Frank, founder/CEO of the company, developed the idea in the summer of 1997. The idea for Grey Goose was to develop a luxury vodka for the American marketplace. SFIC partnered with cognac producer François Thibault (a French Maître de Chai, or, Cellar Master) in France in order to transition his skills from cognac to vodka production.
The company selected France due to the country’s culinary history and to differentiate itself from other vodkas produced in Eastern Europe. The water used to produce the vodka came from natural springs in France filtered through Champagne limestone, and made with locally produced French wheat. The company also developed its distinctive smoked glass bottle featuring French geese in flight, and delivered its product in wooden crates similar to wine.
In 1998 Grey Goose was named the best-tasting vodka in the world by the Beverage Testing Institute. The company was eventually sold to Bacardi for a reported US$2.2 billion in 2004. That year Grey Goose was the best-selling premium brand vodka in the United States. The company sold more than 1.5 million cases that year.
Economist Thomas J. Stanley discusses Grey Goose in his book Stop Acting Rich (2009). Based on extensive research and surveys, Stanley describes Grey Goose as a favorite beverage of Americans he terms “aspirationals” (i.e., “those who wish to act rich”, regardless of actual income or wealth, and thus spend large amounts of income on status items). Grey Goose costs up to four or five times more than most competing vodka brands and did not reach the top 10 in a 2005 taste test of vodka brands published in The New York Times, yet has still seen “explosive sales growth” in a few short years due in large part to its being perceived as a drink of the economic elite—even more so than items like Rolex wristwatches or Mercedes Benz automobiles.
The wheat used in the creation of Grey Goose vodka is grown in Picardy, France. Distilled in the same region, north and east of Paris, the distillate is then sent to Cognac, France, where it is blended with spring water and bottled. The wheat used in Grey Goose is soft winter wheat, sown in October and harvested in August, which provides it with four additional months of growth in comparison to summer wheat. The wheat sold to Grey Goose is categorized as “superior bread-making wheat”, and wheat that is soft.
Although made from wheat, as a distilled spirit, Grey Goose is gluten-free. The distillation process removes the gluten from the purified final product.
Enzymes are used to break down the carbohydrates into fermentable sugars. The fermentation takes place continuously over six cascading tanks, producing a 20-proof beer. The wash is then distilled into spirit using a five-step process. The water used in the vodka comes from a natural spring 150 meters (500 feet) below the blending facility in Cognac, which is lined with limestone, providing calcium-rich spring water. That water is then filtered to remove impurities. After the filtration the vodka is bottled in a plant dedicated solely to bottling Grey Goose. Grey Goose vodka is bottled with a replaceable cork rather than a screw-top cap