Grey Goose Vodka
Review: Grey Goose Vodka (86.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on July 7, 2011
Grey Goose Vodka was created by Sidney Frank who recognized in the mid 1990’s that North America was ready for a new premium vodka brand. He based his new brand upon what he believed to be a North American perception of the superiority of French production. He therefore chose a distillery in the Cognac region of France which would use French Winter Wheat as the base for his Vodka’s distillation, and a water source which was filtered through limestone. To say that his new brand was a success would be a wild understatement, as Mr. Frank successfully introduced his Vodka to the world in 1997, and then successfully sold the brand to Bacardi in 2004 for an amount which was reported (by Forbes Magazine) to be in excess of two billion dollars.
Since then, Grey Goose has become the standard by which Vodka is judged. I know this because almost every time I receive a sample of Vodka from a person in industry, they tell me that their Vodka is ‘just as good’ as Grey Goose. Since Grey Goose is the standard, I thought that it was about time to put the spirit through the paces of my review system here on my website.
The First Impression (9/10 pts)
Grey Goose Vodka was named for the geese that have made the Cognac Region of France their home, and the Grey Goose bottle has quickly become iconic in the industry with its eye-catching panoramic illustration of these geese and the French countryside which is featured on the bottle. The bottle is topped with a cork closure which is unusual for Vodka but serves to add elegance and ambiance to the occasion of opening it for the first time.
The First Sip (17.5/20 pts)
I chilled my bottle of Grey Goose to just above zero degrees Celsius prior to my first tasting session where I had invited a couple of friends to join me. We were tasting four different Vodkas that day and they were unaware of which Vodka they were tasting at which time. I am not normally this secretive during my tasting events; but, I wanted to ensure that no preconceived notions regarding the Grey Goose were impacting their perceptions. At the cold temperature I was serving the Grey Goose, it was only slightly creamy.
All of us felt that the vodka was imparting very little aroma into the air above our shot glasses, a light starchy aroma perhaps, but very little else. As the vodka was sipped, I asked each friend for a flavour impression, and I was met with a bit of a blank look at first. My friends were having trouble finding any flavour perceptions in their glasses.
I was receiving a very light hint of candy flavour and touches of starchy wheat and spicier grain but not much else. I would have to say my initial impression is that the Grey Goose is very clean. It leaves no medicinal, or astringent aftertaste, and I agree that this is a very nice Vodka!
Taking a Shot (17/20 pts)
The flavour impressions which I encountered during my first sip were reinforced when I took a nice shot or swallow of a larger portion of the spirit. Ghostly impressions of wheat and starch and just a hint of sweetness. This is very good!
There was though, and all of us noticed it, a very light burn to the vodka as it went down. My friend Lukasz rather liked this thin burn whereas my friend Dennis was put off by it. I tended to agree with Dennis, but the burn was light it did not cause me undo discomfort. There was no metallic aftertaste or any hint of medicinal sharpness, and I found I rather enjoyed my shot of Grey Goose in spite of the light burn.
In further tasting sessions I noticed a little more warmth in my mouth as I sipped and shot the Grey Goose vodka. This was a spicy warmth which seems to be from the grain in the distillate. It is rather nice and seems to improve the experience.
Out for Dinner (17/20 pts)
The Grey Goose turned out to be a great Vodka to enjoy with food. It tends to cleanse the palate after each bite of food allowing you to savour each new bite. That little bit of warmth that the vodka imparts to the palate seems to make it extremely receptive to subtle nuances of flavour. We had three different cheeses (cheddar, Swiss and Gouda), as well as a variety of mildly spiced sausages and fresh-baked buns with spinach dip. The Vodka tasted great with the food and the food tasted great with the Vodka.
Cocktails (26/30 pts)
The cosmopolitan I made with the Grey goose was very good. It was quite tart, and my impression was that the Vodka was not imparting any flavour to the cocktail rather it was allowing the other ingredients to shine through. I made a few new cocktails with the Grey Goose, a Darby Cocktail using the Vodka instead of Gin as the base, and a Vodka Daiquiri (See Recipe Below). I enjoyed each cocktail, and my impression that the Grey Goose allows the other ingredients in the cocktail to take center stage as far as flavour is concerned was reinforced.
A Final Note:
The Grey Goose Vodka is certainly a well crafted spirit. It is clean, and carries only light nuances of flavour. The only detriment to the spirit is a very light burn which all of my friends noticed in the tasting session we had. What the Grey Goose did not exhibit was any sort of ‘pop’ that excited me or my friends. It is a very good, very solid vodka; but, for my friends and I, the Grey Goose did not elevate itself to the heights of greatness.
Final Score 86.5/100
(Excellent for Shots and Mixing Cocktails)
The Vodka Daiquiri
2 oz Grey Goose Vodka
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup
Add the three ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker frosts.
Strain into a nice cocktail glass
Garnish (if desired) with a slice of lime
And of course…enjoy!
(I compared the Grey Goose Vodka Daiquiri against a traditional rum daiquiri using one of my favourite white rums. Much to my delight, the Vodka Daiquiri acquitted itself very well!)
The Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing Vodka. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again for cocktails only.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this Vodka in shots, although cocktails are still preferable.
85-89 Excellent! Shots or cocktails!
90-94 You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 80 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
81 – 89 Silver Medal (Recommended for shots and mixing cocktails)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)