Vodka is drastically different from most whiskeys in that it’s supposed to be a more neutral flavor. Whiskey is distilled with many different flavors in mind and is aged in various casks that are designed to add flavor as well. However, this does not mean that vodka is tasteless and odorless like it is often described to be. Vodka can actually be distilled from many more ingredients than other liquors such as whiskey and tequila – and because of this, vodka can have distinct tastes from each other even if it is generally neutral.
Two of the most popular top-shelf vodkas are Grey Goose vs Belvedere. Both options are on the more expensive side of the spectrum when it comes to vodka, and both have a reputation for being luxurious and hip. When it comes to purchasing top-shelf vodka, which is better – Grey Goose vs Belvedere? Are either worth purchasing?
In this article we are going to compare the two high-end vodkas and discuss the different history, ingredients, taste, price points, and our own opinions of Grey Goose and Belvedere.
History & Distillation of Grey Goose
Grey Goose was created in 1997 by Sidney Frank to serve as a luxury brand vodka in the United States. Just 7 years later, in 2004, Grey Goose was sold to Bacardi for $2.2 billion.
As previously mentioned, there are many base ingredients that can be used to distill vodka. Grey Goose uses soft winter wheat that is grown in Picardy, France. Winter wheat gets an extra couple months of growth in comparison to summer wheat, and it is considered ‘soft’ because it is lighter, or has more starch and less gluten. The winter wheat is distilled with water from a spring right under the Cognac facility.
Sidney Frank was intentional with his business decisions. He designed Grey Goose to be a luxurious vodka for the American market which is why he uses wheat grown in France and why he partnered with Cognac for his source of water.
History & Distillation of Belvedere
Belvedere launched in 1996 and as with Grey Goose, it’s purpose was to serve as a luxury vodka. It is named after the Polish presidential palace, Belweder, which is depicted on the bottle. It is owned and operated by LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton). However, the distillery in which Belvedere is brewed has been in operation since 1910 and was originally imported to the US by Eddie Phillips in 1996 before being bought out by LVMH.
Belvedere is a Polish vodka which means it must be made with polish grains and polish water. Furthermore, there can be not artificial additives. Belvedere, then, uses a mash of Polish rye and water from Poland to distill its vodka. After Belvedere is distilled first, it is sent to the Belvedere distillery to be distilled three more times.
Grey Goose vs Belvedere Similarities & Differences
Vodka gets a rap for being bland and all-the-same, but this is not entirely accurate, especially when one expands their horizons past the same two or three brands. Grey Goose and Belvedere, though, do have many similarities, but also a couple key differences.
- They both were started and marketed as premium vodkas for the US market
- They are both 40% ABV (80 proof)
- Grey Goose is distilled from wheat and Belvedere from Rye
- Grey Goose is produced in France whereas Belvedere is produced in Poland
- Grey Goose is distilled once and Belvedere is distilled four times
The largest difference between Grey Goose and Belvedere is the amount of times it is distilled. While they each have a different base, both are distilled from grains which means the difference in flavor on account of that is likely minimal. That leaves how many times the vodka is distilled as largest difference maker in taste, which is largely in favor to Belvedere.
Grey Goose vs Belvedere Taste
This is where we are going to answer most of your questions. How do the two taste, and which vodka tastes better?
On it’s website, Grey Goose is described to “combine the richness of almond with apple and citrus, alongside a hint of pepper and anise”. Now, I think that vodka has more flavor and more differences than most people give it credit for, but I find Grey Goose to lack such diversity. The appearance is crystal clear, it has a citrus and floral aroma, and you can taste a hint of lemon.
Belvedere tends to be a bit smoother than Grey Goose, but not quite as sweet. It has stronger hints of vanilla and pepper. The vanilla flavor adds to the smoothness while the pepper notes give Belvedere a little bit of spice.
Which is better – Grey Goose vs Belvedere?
Critics are typically harsh on both Grey Goose and Belvedere but, especially, Grey Goose. This is primarily because they are marketed as premium vodkas and the best tasting vodka in the world, but they do not live up to the expectations.
In 2005, the New York Times did a blind taste test of twenty one different vodkas. twenty of which were high-end or “premium” vodkas, the other one was Smirnoff. Smirnoff ended up coming in as the favorite, Belvedere ranked third, and Grey Goose did not make it in the top 10. Most people, along with myself, prefer Belvedere to Grey Goose.
Grey Goose and Belvedere Drinks
Vodka is meant to be fairly neutral and because of this it mixes well with pretty much anything. Grey Goose tends to be on the sweeter side of Vodkas because of its wheat base which is why its recommended to mix in with your fruitier drinks or with a bit of lime juice or lemon squeeze.
Belvedere, on the other hand, has a bit of a spicier finish, so we recommend to use it in a martini. Both vodkas are high end, so don’t pay the extra money if you plan to overload your drink with lemonade or sweet tea.
Is Either Vodka Worth It?
Grey Goose vs Belvedere Price
We’ve covered the brief histories, marketing, and taste of the two vodkas, but now its time to talk price and value. This is where many people are drawn away from top-shelf vodka. Vodka is meant to be somewhat neutral and can be purchased relatively cheaply.
A full 1.75L handle of Grey Goose and Belvedere are usually going to run you around $43-$50. A 1L typically runs in the mid $30 range, and a 750 ml in the mid to high $20 range. While this isn’t crazy expensive in comparison to other high end scotches and bourbons, it is in comparison to other quality vodkas that you can purchase a full 1.75L of at the $20-$30 mark.
Grey Goose vs Belvedere Value
As mentioned, Grey Goose takes a lot of criticism and not because it’s a bad vodka either. It’s an average vodka, but it falls so short of being the best, or of even being very good, that it’s hard to support when there are so many other similar options at a much cheaper price.
Belvedere gets some criticism as well. As with Grey Goose, mostly because the expectations, price point, and reality don’t align. Vodka is different from other liquors. You want a distinctive bourbon or scotch, but that’s not really the goal of Vodka. However, when a company markets its vodka as premium and prices it as such, people expect something special.
With all this said, I do think Belvedere is a good vodka – not the best, but definitely better than average and better than most. I do not recommend ordering a drink with Grey Goose or Belvedere at a bar. It will likely cost a lot more than most are wanting to spend, and the flavor will be washed out with whatever you mix it with. There is a spot, though, for Belvedere in your liquor cabinet. It’s a good high end vodka to have on hand for special guests to whom you don’t want to give Smirnoff or some other “bottom-shelf” vodka to.
Grey Goose vs Belvedere Summary
Both vodkas are seen as high end, premium, and top shelf and both catch plenty of criticism for this which is what makes Grey Goose vs Belvedere such an interesting comparison. However, we must at Barrel and brew credit the marketing of both companies. Through all the criticism, Grey Goose and Belvedere have remained symbols of luxury and remained near the top in sales of all premium vodkas.
Overall, we think there are many better options for vodka than Grey Goose and Belvedere, but if you are looking to spend the extra money on a luxury vodka, Belvedere is the way to go. You can check out two of our favorite mid-tier vodkas, Tito’s vs Ketel One here for options that have a little more value.