The truth about Kirkland vodka

Everyone's heard the rumors about Costco's Kirkland-brand vodka — that it's really actually the same stuff as Grey Goose, just poured into a generic bottle instead of a designer label one. But is this rumor actually true? Experts say... probably not. Grey Goose, of course, denies it emphatically, while Costco is going the "no comment" route.

Still, according to several blind taste tests, it seems that Kirkland vodka may even be better — and, of course, a whole lot cheaper — than the overpriced, overhyped Grey Goose. There is one thing you need to know, though, before you rush out to Costco to start stocking up on this better-than-premium vodka — there are actually two different varieties of Kirkland vodka, an American one and a French one, and there is a definite difference, as the one being compared to Grey Goose is the French variety.

A tale of two Kirkland vodkas

Costco's American (blue label) vodka, priced at $12.99 per 1.75-liter bottle (via Costco Couple), is your basic, acceptable cheap booze. Fine for mixed drinks, but if you're drinking it straight up, well, it's no Grey Goose clone. In a blind taste test performed by The Kitchn, this vodka brand came in dead last out of six vodkas sampled, with a flavor that was described as tasteless, thin, and downright boring. 

Topping the list, however, was Kirkland's French (red label) vodka, perhaps one of Costco's all-time best buys. While it is not actually repackaged Grey Goose, it is sourced from the same waters — the Gensac Springs in France's Cognac region (via Vice). The Kitchn's tasters found the Kirkland French vodka to have a silky (and less watery) mouthfeel than the other vodkas, with a taste that was described as "sweet and bright." At just $19.99 per 1.75 liters, Kirkland's French vodka is also only about a third of the price of non-identical twin Grey Goose — which, by the way, scored fifth (second-to-last) in The Kitchn's rankings.

If you still feel the need to buy name brand vodka for the snob appeal, well, it's your money. Just be aware that, as spirits expert Fred Minnick told Business Insider, "Vodka is purely marketing — there is nothing special about it... you are basically paying for someone's fat salary." Plus, you know, you could always buy a small bottle of Grey Goose, and refill it on the sly from your handle of Kirkland vodka. Chances are, your friends will never, ever know, and you get all the cachet for a fraction of the money. Win!