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I received a call from FedEx the other day and was informed that a box of booze had been damaged in transit and I should come down and pick it up.  They further said only one bottle had been broken and there were several others still intact.  As it turned out “damaged in transit” was a gross understatement.  That box looked like it had fallen out of a cargo plane at 35,000 feet and careened down a boulder infested mountainside and finally got run over by a steamroller.  It only faintly resembled a box.

Sure enough inside was a broken bottle of Grey Goose but the good news was that a bottle of traditional Grey Goose was still in one piece as was the flock of three flavored geese.  All was not lost, YAY.

I have to say right up front that I really like the traditional Grey Goose and have been drinking it for quite a while now.  Actually, I first tasted it in 1997 when the legendary Sidney Frank first introduced it into America from France that year.  As a matter of fact, he was so successful in promoting it that he ended up selling the brand to Bacardi in 2004 for $2 Billion.  He is also the marketing genius who got every college kid in America to drink and like that horrible Jagermeister.  If you really want to know my full opinion of Jagermeister, click here.

I was living in San Francisco in 1997 when I got the call from my publisher, Mike Walsh, that Sidney Frank was launching Grey Goose in San Francisco and wanted to take a group of local journalists, radio dj’s, TV news people and sports figures out on the town to try Grey Goose for the first time.  We had to dress up and would be picked up by limousines.  How can you refuse that type of invitation?

In all, there were 5 limos and each contained 2 Grey Goose girls and 4 of us lucky stiffs and enough bottles of Grey Goose to sink the Titanic.  We ended up going to 4 clubs where we tasted 3 house specialty mini martinis made with Grey Goose and got to sample dozens of their house specialty appetizers.  By the end of that evening, I had made at least 20 new friends, was stuffed on fine food and of course had consumed at least a dozen mini martinis and a few regular sized ones as well.  We were gently deposited at home at the end of the evening and each given parting gifts of probably 50 miniature bottles, several regular sized bottles and 2 magnums of Grey Goose along with a T-shirt or two.

Needless to say, the next morning the radio and TV shows whose hosts had participated the previous night raved about the evening throughout their programs as did the sports celebrity guests who appeared on the shows.  The two major newspapers wrote glowing articles as we also did.  That kind of product launch media blitz hasn’t been seen since and Grey Goose literally became an overnight sensation.

All that being said, I am still wary of any flavored spirit as more have fallen short than succeeded. But at least Grey Goose is starting out with a really good vodka, so I am hoping for the best.  The three flavored Geese that survived the trip ended up being black cherry, orange and pear. So let’s get to it.

I want to start by revisiting my old friend traditional Grey Goose. The nose is clean and crisp and has no particular aroma or even a hint of alcohol.  On the palate, it continues that crispness with no discernible taste and possibly the slightest hint of pepper.  The finish is smooth and clean and short but sweet.  This is truly wonderful vodka in every sense of the definition of vodka as being odorless, colorless and with no particular taste.  It defines super premium and is well worth the price of $28.00 for the 750ml and $37.00 for the liter.

With that high quality of vodka as the base for their flavored spirits, my expectations were quite high.  Next was the Cherry Noir.  Straight from the bottle the aroma is Grey Goose vodka infused with ripe cherries and hints of other subtle citrus scents.  However, in the snifter, the aroma broadens out and now begins to resemble cough medicine more closely rather than cherries.  It starts out smooth on the palate with the flavor in the background but that flavor quickly comes forward and dominates the mouth.  That flavor is not the natural fruit of the cherry but something else that’s hard to describe.  It is soft but has an edge to it that dissolves into a citrus and pepper bite.  It leaves a bitter although smooth finish that leaves my tongue tingling and that is medium in duration.  Even on the rocks it maintains this acidic profile.  This is not what I was expecting.  It is priced similarly to the unflavored vodka.

Next up is the Orange flavored Grey Goose.  The nose, as concentrated in the bottle, is very orange peel like with a strong citrus back.  In the snifter, the orange definitely steps forward and reminds me of immature oranges that are a bit citrusy and acidic and need a while to mature and mellow.  On the palate, this vodka starts out smooth and subtle, which is quickly followed by a nicely laid back orange flavor followed by a pleasant citrus back.  The finish is smooth and medium in length and just fruity and sharp enough to make it interesting.  There is still quite a citrus acid background to this flavor but it is much truer to its orange namesake than the cherry was.  On the rocks, the citrus back subsided but the orange flavor still seemed immature, and I did not find it as satisfying as I thought I would.  It is the same price as the previous two.

Last but not least is the Pear flavor.  Now, I have to reveal that after I moved from San Francisco I moved to Santa Rosa, California, in my backyard were several pear trees, so I am very familiar with very fresh pears.  We used to pick them at their ripest and even then they were rock hard and needed to be put in paper bags for a week or so to ripen and soften.  And when they ripened they were the sweetest most tender, juicy and tasty things I have ever eaten so with great anticipation I opened the bottle of Grey Goose pear.  The nose straight from the bottle is reminiscent of those pears I used to enjoy.  It has a subtle yet very pear like sweetness to it.  In the snifter, the pear essence becomes more obvious to the nose and it is very close to the real thing.  On the palate, the pear flavor is very much forward yet subtle and balanced.  It is sweet and fruity and I swear I can almost taste the pear skins.  The finish is much less citrus like and acidic than the previous two flavors and does not leave my tongue tingling.  I do believe that they got this one quite right.

I believe my belief in Grey Goose hasn’t been too shaken by this experience and I will continue to drink and thoroughly enjoy traditional Grey Goose and even add the pear flavor on occasion.  The other two, cherry and orange I might use in a mixed drink but as pricey as Grey Goose is, there are less expensive mixed drink alternatives.  Flavored spirits, no matter the type are always a hit or miss proposition and in this case they have both hits and misses.

 

 

By George Brozowski

 

For more George’s Rants and Raves click here