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Sep. 13, 2021
Our founders believed that to create the best spirit, we needed full control of the ingredients and uncompromising standards of excellence. The exceptional quality of our wheat, plus our meticulous attention to detail in every aspect of production, are the key factors in making Grey Goose the classic wheat vodka with a universally appealing taste, rich in character and full of possibility.
An exceptional vodka comes from exceptional founders. Sidney Frank grew up as a farm boy in rural Connecticut, but thanks to his entrepreneurial spirit and tireless work ethic, he became a global success story in the world of spirits. Bartenders kept telling him that what they really wanted was a better vodka. But Sidney was a businessman, not a spirits making expert. That’s where François Thibault came in. François had grown up in Cognac and was immersed in every aspect of the spirits and wine industries, having studied in Burgundy and earned a degree in oenology at the University of Bordeaux. He later earned the prestigious title of Cellar Master, the highest position of spirits making in France. His background in Cognac helped him hone his palate and meant he was particularly poised to help Sidney develop a sophisticated new spirit.
Together, they set out to create a vodka crafted from the ground up to express the essence of its superior ingredients. No shortcuts and no compromises.
François believed that to create the best spirit, he needed full control of his ingredients. And we have only ever used two: soft winter wheat from Picardie and spring water from our own well in Gensac-la-Pallue. Unlike many vodkas available, he refused to buy in an existing spirit and re-distill it. Grey Goose is made from scratch – we do not refine someone else’s raw grain spirit. The entire vodka production process – from milling the wheat to distilling our vodka – is carried out in only one place.
François believed that soft winter wheat (sown in the autumn, harvested 9 months later in midsummer) produces the best-tasting spirit. It has the ideal balance of starch, gluten and minerals, and – when milled – produces a superior flour. “Blé panifiable supérieur” is the French classification for the finest bread-making wheat. It’s the only wheat considered good enough to make the finest French bread and pastries, so it’s the only wheat good enough for us.
François knew that terroir was fundamental in defining the character of the wheat, so he chose Picardie, Northern France. The region is known as “the breadbasket of France.” It has the perfect terroir for soft winter wheat – the right soil composition and a temperate climate make for the perfect growing conditions. Like single-origin coffees, using a single-origin wheat (rather than a blend as other vodkas do) ensures that the distinctive characteristics of that particular wheat shine through.
To this day, every grain of wheat we use is sourced from three local farming co-operatives within 50km of our distillery.
The wheat harvest occurs just once a year – in late July/early August – and is overseen by the farming co-operatives.
We mill our own wheat on-site at the distillery to ensure we capture its flavor and freshness. François uses the whole wheat grain to deliver a richer, fuller flavor, in stark contrast to other vodkas, which often use lower grades of wheat or by-products of the sugar or starch industry.
Once milled, this is when the flour goes from wheat to glucose. The starch content of the wheat is broken down and converted to glucose through the use of natural enzymes, by a process called liquefaction and saccharification.
Now the resulting glucose-rich ‘wheat mash’ is turned into a low alcohol ‘bread wine’ of 10% ABV. A specifically selected strain of yeast is used and is responsible for the flavor and aroma of the spirit. We use a custom designed ‘cascade’ system where fermentation takes place across a series of six containers, giving François greater control and tighter analysis at each stage.
Because we are in complete control of our ingredients (and don’t start with a raw white spirit created by someone else), we only need a single distillation process. This means that more of the flavor of the wheat is retained for a richer, deeper taste.
In a 5-stage continuous process meticulously designed by François, the distillation takes place in columns made of steel and copper. Capturing the flavor of the wheat requires careful balancing and the constant monitoring of hundreds of variables.
The next stage is to add natural spring water from our own well in Gensac-la-Pallue – the only other ingredient we add to Grey Goose Vodka. François wanted a water with a complete transparency of character, to make sure nothing got in the way of the flavor of the wheat. It’s naturally filtered by limestone that removes any pollutants, and we filter it using double reverse osmosis, demineralising the water. This naturally reduces the ph from 7.5 to 5, giving it a greater sense of freshness.
Prior to bottling, the blended spirit is passed once through a filter of cellulose and active carbon. This is a light “polishing” designed to keep the flavor in. The spirit is then left to rest, before being bottled. While other vodkas may make use of additives, we don’t add anything in. It’s just wheat and water.
Throughout the production process, there are 550 quality checks (a mixture of human tastings and technical checks). And François tastes and approves every single batch.
It all comes together beautifully. We oversee our entire process, which is 100% traceable from our farmer partnerships, through milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation, blending with spring water and final bottling.
The result is a great-tasting vodka that elevates any cocktail you make – or its flavor can be enjoyed on its own. The universally appealing taste of Grey Goose is based on the quality and uncompromising nature of our ingredients, process and people. So why not try Grey Goose yourself?
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