Although France is well known for making fine wines and spirits such as Bordeaux wine, Cognac, and Champagne, the French became involved in the vodka market after the launch of Grey Goose Vodka, which began operations in the 1990s.
After the success of Grey Goose, more distilleries began to produce vodka in France. As a result, French Vodka soon became one of the most premium examples of vodka available on the market. As a result, French distilleries have achieved massive success in the American market.
While Grey Goose and many other French vodkas are produced from organic products traditionally used to make vodkas, such as wheat, barley, and potatoes, many French distillers are renowned for using grapes to produce vodkas.
The utilization of grapes as the base ingredient to make vodka leads to this brand of French vodka having a unique flavor and texture. French vodkas tend to be a lighter style of vodka that are more delicately flavored and less robust than most eastern European vodkas.
The Top French Vodka Brands
The following are French Vodka Brands recommended if you are interested in experiencing the unique flavors and textures that French vodka offers.
- Grey Goose Vodka
- Ciroc Vodka
- Jean-Marc Vodka
- Fair Vodka
- Dragon Bleau Vodka
- EKISS Vodka
- Guillotine Vodka
- Mariette Vodka
Sidney Frank of Sidney Frank Importing Co (SFIC) had the idea to develop a luxury vodka for the American market. SFIC partnered with Francois Thibault, a cognac producer in France, to transition his skills from Cognac to vodka production.
Francois Thiebault designed Grey Goose vodka, and SFIC launched it in 1997. In 1998 Grey Goose was named the best-tasting vodka worldwide by the Beverage Testing Institute.
In 2004 when the company was sold to Bacardi for US$2.2 billion, Grey Goose was the best-selling premium vodka in the United States, with sales exceeding 1.5 million cases that year.
The soft winter wheat used to create Grey Goose Vodka is grown in Picardy, France. As a result, the vodka is also distilled in the Picardy region. The distillate is then sent to the Cognac region, blended with spring water, and bottled.
The fermentation process takes place continuously over six cascading tanks. The resultant wash is then distilled using a five-column distillation process.
The water blended with the distillate to achieve the correct alcohol content of 40% ABV comes from a natural spring below the blending facility in Cognac, lined with limestone providing calcium-rich spring water that is filtered to remove impurities.
Grey Goose is a premium vodka that offers a delightfully crisp taste with a smooth finish.
The first Grey Goose flavored vodka (L’Orange) was introduced in 2001, followed by Le Citron and La Poire. These flavored vodkas can be enjoyed neat or are ideal for mixing with cocktails.
2. Ciroc Vodka
Ciroc was established in France by Jean-Sebastien Robiquet, who had worked for French cognac-maker Hennessy for ten years. He was approached by British-based Diageo, who has a 34% stake in Hennessy, to make vodka from grapes instead of grains.
Since 2007 Sean” Puff Daddy” Coombs has handled the marketing and production of Ciroc in the United States, with the profits being shared equally between Coombs and Diageo.
The grapes go through a five-step distillation Process. Column stills are used for the first four distillations, with the final distillation to 96% ABV completed in traditional copper pot stills. Ciroc is not aged or flavored before diluting with water to 40% ABV.
This distillation process fulfills the criteria for being labeled as vodka in the United States, which requires at least 95% ABV distillation and a bottling concentration of 40% ABV. In addition, the distillation process followed by Ciroc gives this vodka its unique flavor and distinctive fruity taste.
Since 2010 Ciroc has produced flavored vodkas at 35% ABV. As of October 2021, the following flavored vodkas are available in the US: Mango, Apple, Pineapple, Red Berry, Coconut, Peach, and French Vanilla, plus four “limited edition” varieties: White Grape, Summer Citrus, Summer Watermelon, and Pomegranate.
3. Jean-Marc XO Vodka
Jean-Marc XO Vodka is a vodka distilled in France’s Cognac province. Four French wheat grains are used for their specific flavors combined with limestone-filtered spring water. The spirit is distilled nine times in small batches using French copper Alambic pot stills.
The distillate is then micro-oxygenated like some Bordeaux wines and filtered through Limousin Oak Charcoal to finish. Each bottle is numbered to reflect its handmade artisanship.
Jean-Marc XO was created by Jean-Marc Daucourt and is owned by the Campari group. Jean-Marc is a premium vodka with a herbal flavor and a delectable range of floral aromas and was awarded 97 points by the US Beverage Testing Institute in 2007.
4. Fair Vodka
Fair is the only vodka in the world made from quinoa, a superfood grain grown in the volcanic soils of the Andes mountains.
The company behind Fair Vodka, Ethical Wine and Spirits, works on a Fairtrade basis and brings the quinoa back to Cognac France, where the Master Distiller. Philip Laclie makes an incredibly smooth vodka.
Fair Vodka is a USDA organic, certified gluten-free drink. The brand has worked on a fairtrade basis for ten years, and the vodka was created based on research carried out by Bolivian farmers and French distillers.
Fair Vodka is a smooth vodka with an incredible mouthfeel that is not harsh and gently warms the throat. Fair has won a Platinum Medal from the Beverage Tasting Institute and various Gold and Silver Medals.
Dragon Bleu is a premium handcrafted vodka distilled and bottled in the Grande Champagne region of France. Distiller Patrick Brisset produces Dragon Bleu in Saint-PreulL from wheat, barley, and rye.
The neutral spirit distilled from these grains is mixed with water from the Gensac spring and bottled to an alcohol content of 40% ABV (alcohol by volume).
Dragon Bleu has a crisp, smooth texture and flavor and fits into the high-priced category.
The brand also makes several flavored vodkas; Rose blossom, White ginger, and Penja pepper.
6. EKISS Vodka
EKISS vodka is a single estate vodka using organic winter wheat grown in the Carpargue estate in the south of France. The wheat mash is distilled five times using a column distillation process.
The distillate is blended with spring water from the Carpargue estate and bottled at 40% ABV, delivering a smooth vodka with peppery lemon notes.
EKISS Vodka has been awarded the ECOCERT European organic certification for practicing organic farming methods and distillation.
Guillotine vodka is a French Vodka created exclusively with pinot and chardonnay grapes from the Ay-Champagne region in Cognac. The distilling of this vodka follows the same techniques and processes traditionally used in France to produce quality spirits.
The Guillotine brand offers two varieties. The original ultra premium has a typical clear vodka appearance, with a smooth, light taste and notes of citrus and toffee.
The Guillotine Heritage Barrel Aged Vodka is matured in Limousin oak casks, instilling this vodka with a golden amber color. Guillotine Heritage vodka has a smooth, clean woody taste with notes of vanilla and cinnamon.
8. Mariette Vodka
Mariette vodka was launched into the US market in 2014
Mariette uses winter wheat and water from the Ambes Spring in Bordeaux to produce a fermented mash that is distilled five times. The vodka has a smooth, citrusy, and sweet feel to it.
The vodka is also produced in three flavors: Raspberry & Pomegranate, Vanilla & Coconut, and Orange & Pineapple. All flavors are infused with natural ingredients and bottled at 40% ABV.
The neckless design of the handcrafted carafes in which the vodka is marketed adds uniqueness and elegance to the vodka.