Review: Kirkland Signature Vodka (or, Is It Or Is It Not Grey Goose?)

There’s just no possible way to write a decently comprehensive piece about Kirkland Signature’s bowling-pin-sized vodka offering without addressing the rumor that swirls around it – is it repackaged Grey Goose?  Every Costco representative I’ve talked to about the stuff has at least mentioned the rumor, as have many of the people who have seen one of the bottles near my liquor shelf (usually it’s too tall to go with the rest and demands special display).  Google was no help, as there were no substantiated claims either way, just a lot of arguing back and forth.  The most likely theory the Bartender found was that KS had bought an old Grey Goose distillery and was using water from the same river in France to produce it, but again, it was presented without any evidence.

While taste tests are always going to be somewhat subjective, it seems likely that comparing two products for objective similarities and differences should be far easier to do with accuracy than simply trying a single spirit and giving it a rating.  Additionally, the Bartender cites her above-average depth of experience with vodka-tasting, as well as her lukewarm reaction to Goose from the fancy frosted bottle, as qualifications to make the call.

So, are they the same thing?  Drumroll, please…

No.  No, they are not.  And in the Bartender’s opinion, the Kirkland Signature is superior.

The rumor’s foundation is certainly easy enough to see.  Nearly identical on the nose and tongue (slightly vanilla-y, slightly sweet, very smooth) it’s not until the finish where the two really differentiate themselves.  As previously noted, Goose just sort of fades off into a very mild burn with no real standout flavors.  Kirkland, on the other hand, is far more distinctive:  a slightly more noticeable burn and notes of charcoal and olive that might lend themselves well to a martini.

Impressive as the Kirkland vodka is, however, the best thing about it might be its price – assuming you already have the Costco membership, you can get a 1.75 L handle of it for $27, less than a single 750 mL fifth of Goose costs.  This makes it only a little more expensive than many mid-shelf vodkas, and it completely lacks the bitter finish of those offerings, which makes it simultaneously a fantastic straight vodka and an excellent mixer.  Wrap that up with the fact that the bottle practically doubles as a cricket bat or home-defense weapon, and how can you say no?  A++ with cherries on top

About Ambrosia Rose

Professional drinker, blogger, storyteller, and critic. With a healthy dollop of sarcastic wit on the side.

Posted on 14 July 2011, in Reviews, Vodka and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.

  1. Oooo. CostCo suggests vodka-infused cherries as a garnish.

  2. You don’t need to be a member to buy alcohol at Costco. At least not in CA

  3. hi there,
    i can say for sure, this vodka is far superior to grey goose, i’ve tried most vodkas, i would put this one up there with smirnof

    • Funny, I actually despise Smirnoff. It’s got that harsh and medicinal flavor in spades, something that Kirkland (and Grey Goose) both lack. But I know lots of people who swear by it.

      • You are incorrect. This IS Grey Goose Vodka. This was confirmed to me in a chance meeting with the Country Manager of Costco at my bar. And I don’t think he would mis-represent himself or his products.

        • Hey, I can’t speak to your (or his) experience. All I can do is tell you what mine is, as well as my friends who’ve also tried the two side-by-side. As I said in the review, the difference between my particular bottle of Kirkland and my particular bottle of Grey Goose is subtle, but noticeable even to someone without a lot of experience drinking straight vodka.

    • Smirnoff? Seriously? Yuck!

  4. Anyone who thinks Smirnoff is superior to Grey Goose should not be drinking vodka, they should prolly stay away from alcohol altogether. I think you should reconsider writing reviews as you don’t seem to know what you should be looking for in a drink.

    • And where, exactly, did I say I thought Smirnoff was superior to Grey Goose? In fact, I believe I said exactly the opposite in the comments above. I think you should reconsider writing Internet comments as you don’t seem to have a very high level of reading comprehension.

      • The comments are a bit difficult to distinguish, but I think he was replying to one above his that read: “this vodka is far superior to grey goose, I’ve tried most vodkas, i would put this one up there with smirnof” (sic) Which implies that Smirnoff is superior to Goose.

  5. Internet, serious business. Nice review.

  6. We buy 30 bottles of Grey Goose a week from Cosco and hear the same story off everyone that works there every time. I cant imagine trying to up sell the Kirkland in a bar when someone asks for Grey Goose.

  7. You dont actually need a costco membership to buy alcohol

  8. I’ve been enjoying Kirkland’s signature vodka made in France for years. It’s among the best I’ve tried. This fall, while visiting Arizona, I purchased six bottles to take home because Costcos in my state do not sell liquor. Have only opened one bottle, and it tasted like paint thinner. Has anyone else had this problem? Could it just be a bad bottle or a bad batch? I normally drink it straight on the rocks, but this had to be mixed to be palatable and even than it had a solvent taste. I’m reluctant to open any of the other bottles. If other customers have experienced this problem and it was a bad batch, maybe Costco would exchange them?

    • That *is* interesting. I would absolutely take the bottles back to Costco – they may have switched suppliers, or they may have gotten a bad batch, but they pride themselves on their return policy (I once returned a shirt and a package of toothbrushes that had been sitting in the car for six months before we’d finally gotten down there again, and they took them back, no problem). Maybe open one or two more, and if they all taste that way, take them back for a refund? If it is a bad supplier, they’ll drop them fast if returns start rolling in.

    • We have also enjoyed this Kirkland signature vodka made in France for years. Just bought 6 bottles in Sunnyvale, CA in January 2013 to bring to our home in Idaho. I could not drink the bottle we first opened. It was terrible. Asked my husband to do a taste between Kirkland and Kettle one. He blind tasted and picked kettle one with the comment that something is wrong with this other one. It is a bad batch or new source. I will open another of the 6 bottles to try but I think it’s a new source. Also not price is now reduced. I can’t drink what I just opened. We have a home base in CA and they sell vodka there. Should be ok to return.

  9. Don’t confuse Kirklands new cheap vodka with this one.. They’re very different products!

  10. Funny, loved this vodka too. Bought a bottle this month and it is not drinkable. Tried mixing it with a couple different things but nothing has yet to mask the extremely potent rubbing alcohol taste.

  11. I am a BIG fan of Kettle One and purchase same from Costco. I recently decided to immerse myself in the Kirkland Branded Vodka. I to do not believe the stories of being a “Grey Goose” product and after all the internet research I felt was enough I decided to call this product a Very Good Vodka from the waters and grain of France. Kudos to Kirkland for offering a decent product for a fair price. (Sorry, I am still a K1 fan. It offers a better head!)

  12. vodka is great but the bottle sucks

  13. Has anyone compared the American made Kirkland vodka with the others? I have had Grey Goose and other brands, but fiend US Kirkland to be very competitive. Also, we were down near Sarasota Fl. and bought the 1.5 bottle for less than $15 including tax.

  14. The imported Kirkland brand is by far the best vodka I’ve ever had. I used to think that it was GG, but I can clearly taste a difference. The bottle is a bit difficult to manage (I keep it in my freezer) but for the price, it’s worth the hassle.

  15. Most of the articles written about Smirnoff’s are from 2005 – before GG and all the wannabes sprang up and flourished. WTF, I’ll buy a pint, freeze it and see what happens.

  16. it is NOT the same. I have drunk Grey Goose for years. i have a dirty martini. This month, I decided to try the Kirkland brand. here are my comments:

    1. bottle size is the same.
    2. smells the same.
    3. most importantly, it TASTES the same.
    4. it mixes the same.
    5. it is the same proof, 80.

    now, the kicker:
    5. it is NOT as potent.

    I can only drink 1 Grey Goose martini and I’m almost down for the count. if I even attempt to have a second (darn they taste so good), I will be asleep in 10 minutes. its just too powerful. I can drink 3 of the Kirkland to get the same effect as 1 Grey Goose. This might be a good feature if you’re having a party and don’t want to have your guests drinking and driving. I have don’t this test repeatedly and that is my answer. I conclude the same result. I have no idea WHY this is as both bottles are the same proof (alcohol content by volume).

    Thanks for listening.

  17. You are correct, it isn’t Grey Goose (though I seriously doubt that there’s any actual distinction in taste except what you bring to the table ahead of time – blind taste tests with vodka are even more of a crapshoot than most spirits). They’re made in more or less identical stills, out of more or less identical product, using more or less identical water. By the way, the water doesn’t come from a river but from well-drawn mountain springs in the Massif mountain range. They are distilled to roughly the same alcohol content, and diluted to the exact same final ABV.

  18. Just got here four years later and have to say: great review.

    I’m a vodka purist and still like Stoli while it’s dissed by so many.

    What I have found is that when one is drinking straight vodka (out of the freezer, of course) Stoli is thicker, like mercury, thanks, no doubt, to its congeners. (

    I worked on liquor advertising for many years and learned why American vodka and gin is bad, so much like rubbing alcohol. By law we can’t add congeners. It has to be “grain neutral spirits.”

    I also enjoy Finlandia, though not as much as Stoli. And Absolut is too neutral, too nothing.

    So, having bought the Kirkland French vodka for the first time, and being impressed, I wanted to see what’s what and ended up here.

    • Thanks! Despite having written it so long ago (and really hardly updating the blog at all these days), this remains one of my most popular pages. Lots of people are curious if there really is a difference, I guess.

      That’s interesting about congeners – I’d wondered why some vodkas (like Chopin, made in Poland) were thicker than others in the freezer. Thanks for the link!

  19. Charlie Deans

    I also have a bottle of Kirkland Vodka (bought several months or more ago) which tastes absolutely terrible. Sadly, I mixed a strong Caesar, the taste of the Vodka was masked enough that I drank it, became ill over a period of days. Can’t say for sure if illness was caused by the Vodka, but ended up in the hospital for eight days, diagnosed with a blood clot in my kidney. Anyone else have a similar experience? I’m considering sending a sample of the Vodka to a lab for diagnosis.

  20. I also tried Costco Signature Vodka and it tasted bad. It had a bad mineral and or rusted pipe taste like rubbing alcohol, not that I ever drank that. I had to throw it out. I am not Vodka snob. I drink the major supermarket brands and like Smirnoff. Vodka is suppose to have a neutral taste and this was not the case with Costco Signature Vodka. Maybe someone should look into their quality control.

  21. So, there are a number of comments near the bottom of the thread, saying the Costco vodka wasn’t any good, in fact, tasted quite bad. Can anyone qualify if that was the Kirkland French vodka, or the Kirkland American vodka.

    I’ve never bought the American vodka, but I buy a bottle of the French vodka every 3 months, or so, and I’ve never had a bad one.

    BTW: For all my American friends coming to Canada this summer (why wouldn’t you, your dollar is worth 50% more right now), the only Costco’s in Canada that have liquor stores are a few in Edmonton and Calgary. Semi-deregulated liquor laws in Alberta permit retail competition, but the other provinces aren’t there yet. Best bet, if you’re in Alberta, is go to Superstore liquor stores. While prices are still going to be a shock, they’re the lowest in Canada (except for domestic Canadian beer, which will be slightly cheaper in Ontario). Actually, with your 50% dollar advantage, prices won’t be a shock…I take that back. Cheers!

  22. First – I’m a liquor distributor and I can put this myth to bed right now…Costco Vodka, yes the one made in France, is NOT Grey Goose Vodka….it is made in France and that’s where the similarities end!
    End of story….it’s a great story, if you’re Costco but totally untrue.
    Second – Costco Vodka (Kirkland) in my opinion, is not distilled and or filtered to the same exacting standards as some of the higher end products on the market today. Including some of the Organic products made here in the USA.

  23. In MN you don’t have to be a member to buy their liquor. I am sure some state law pertaining to this.

  24. Michigan Grandma

    I tried the Kirkland Premium Vodka yesterday for the first time and thought it was awful. The Costco in my neighborhood sells two Kirkland Vodkas. One for $16.99 and one for $24.99. The $16.99 is made in the US and it is OK, but there are medium priced brands that are better. The $24.99 tasted just awful to me and I feel that I wasted my money. I drink my vodka over the rocks with a twist of lemon or lime. My vodka of choice is still Absolute!!!

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