Vodka Meets Cognac – Grey Goose Flies Back To Its Roots

Grey Goose is one of the world’s leading ultra-premium vodkas, and according to their spokesman “the most called for and most recommended brand in the on-premise” i.e. bars. Hmmmm….such claims are difficult to quantify, but skepticism aside, and absent of any hard numbers from Bacardi, the brand’s owners, it is safe to say it’s one of the most popular high-end vodkas.

Grey Goose VX

Grey Goose VX

That they are continually looking to extend the brand is not surprising – flavored vodkas are a huge money spinner, and they already offer five fruit infusions – but that their latest effort, Grey Goose VX ($100, in select US markets from September 1st) contains 5% eau de vie cognac, is.

Unless you know a little of the brand’s history.

In 1996 American Sydney Frank, who had already had a big hit with Jägermeister, asked Francois Thibault, at the time the Maitre de Chai at a small Cognac house with which he already had a relationship, to craft a no-expenses-spared, super-luxe vodka for him. Hence was born Grey Goose.

The idea was inspired, and the brand such a roaring success that Frank was able to sell it to Bacardi in 2004 for $2 billion. That seemed like a lot of money to me at the time but considering Grey Goose sold 3,382,000 9-L Cases, that’s 40 M bottles, in 2013 in the US alone, according to the Beverage Info Group Handbook, the deal must have paid for itself many times over.

But back to VX. Having spent 20 years distilling Cognac it’s not surprising that Thibault was drawn to the idea of mixing a little of his past into the present, hence VX.

Francois Thibault

Francois Thibault

It comes in an sensuously curved bottle in turn ensconced in an elegant blue and white box, packaging appropriate to its three digit price tag.

In the glass I found it interesting rather than captivating – it’s best served on the rocks or with a splash of soda – but I can see how one could develop a taste for this Cognac-tinged vodka.

My guess is that the aim here is a high-margin, low volume product targeting the prestige market – travel retail, casinos and the sort of nightclubs that offer bottle service to VIP lounge celebs and their ever present entourages.

That it will also serve to raise the profile and enhance the image of the Grey Goose brand doesn’t hurt either.

+++++++

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