Don't pay extra for luxury liquor

17 Sep

Pull up to the bar on a busy Saturday night at your latest hot bar or club and you’re likely to get asked which brand of alcohol you want in your drink. Brands have gotten so good at selling us the idea that luxury brands like Ketel One, Level, etc. are more delicious that we’re happy to fork over a few more dollars for a branded experience.

But are you just wasting your money?

Yes, says Brett Arends at the Wall Street Journal, and I agree.

“I recently held a blind taste test comparing super-luxury Grey Goose (I paid $22.99 for a bottle), a brand favored by conspicuous consumers, to another French vodka I happened to see in the liquor store—little-known Pinnacle.

Pinnacle’s cost? Just $8.99 a bottle. (That day there was a money-off voucher, too.)

My handful of tasters couldn’t tell much of a difference.
If anything, they slightly preferred … the cheaper stuff.”

Vodka is a grain or potato liquor that has very little flavor. Add some fruity juices or tonic water, and the chances that you can tell the difference between one brand and the other are nil.

But there is someone who cares about what you drink: the liquor companies. According to Arends, for the behemoth company Diageo, which owns brands such as Ketel One and Smirnoff vodkas:

“Gross profit margins are a thumping 58 cents on each dollar of after-tax sales.”

So keep drinking your fancy vodka, and you’ll keep fattening Diageo’s pocket. Bottom’s up!

1 Comment

Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Food Reads


One response to “Don't pay extra for luxury liquor

  1. Tom

    November 27, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Hey Michelle,

    I just wanted to write to mention that my wife and I attended as well and definitely enjoyed most of the wines we tried in the “Reserve Room” in the back ($50+ a bottle.)

    In case you missed it, you could have gotten tickets for 60% off from a link on

    We also agree that many were there just to drink rather than discover new vineyards, but didn’t let that spoil it for us.


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