Viv, who goes by the username @yourrichbff on TikTok, made the claim in a video posted last month, in which she said that purchasing from Costco is not about not being able to afford other brands, but rather it’s about getting the most out of “the product”.
In the video, the TikToker, who is role-playing with herself, says to “grab a handle of Kirkland vodka”. The request prompted confusion from her “friend,” who noted that the pair aren’t “in college anymore” and “can afford the Grey Goose”.
“It’s not about ‘affording,’” Viv responded. “It’s about the product. You do know that Costco’s Kirkland booze is all made by famous distillers right?”
The TikToker then proceeded to state that Costco’s Kirkland brand vodka is made by Grey Goose, before claiming that Kirkland bourbon and rum are produced by Jim Beam and Kentucky.
“And Kirkland tequila is made in the same distillery as the Cielo brand,” she continued, adding: “I’m never going to overpay for a label again.”
In the comments, the video, which has been viewed more than 3.6m times, sparked a debate, with some questioning the validity of the TikToker’s claim, while others suggested that, even if the Costco brand liquors are made by the same distilleries, they are not the same as the higher-end brands.
Some commenters pointed out that Grey Goose has previously denied the claim, as the company told USAToday in 2020: “No, Grey Goose Vodka does not produce nor privately label Kirkland vodka.
“This is a viral claim that has circled Grey Goose for many years and it’s completely false.”
The distillation process is also different, as Grey Goose told the outlet that it distills its product only once “in an effort to preserve the quality natural ingredients and profiles of its ingredients,” while Kirkland’s vodka states that it is distilled five times, according to USAToday.
However, Vice previously noted that both vodkas use water from the Gensac Springs region of France.
Forbes also clarified the claim regarding Costco’s bourbon, as the outlet states that “Costco’s original bourbon bottlings were sourced from Jim Beam and then George Dickel,” however, the company now sources its spirit from Barton 1792, a Sazerac-owned company.
While the Kirkland brand may have used the same distilleries as higher-end brands before, viewers also noted in the comments that this doesn’t necessarily mean the product is the same.
“NO IT’S NOT!!!!! It is made in the same place, that doesn’t mean the SAME INGREDIENTS OR METHODS,” one viewer wrote.
Another said: “Made in the same distillery does not mean it’s the same thing.”
“Coca Cola makes Coke and Sprite. Doesn’t make them the same,” someone else noted.
However, there were also those who acknowledged that, even though the final product may not be the same, the spirits taste similarly.
“All of you in the comments should try a blind taste test, they taste exactly the same,” one person wrote.
Speaking to The Independent, Viv said: “To me, it feels that even if the products aren’t identical, they’re NEARLY identical enough that folks don’t need to be overpaying for marketing. The products are made in the same Cognac region and white labelled for Costco’s use.
“At the end of the day, alcohol is one of the most marked up items - in terms of ‘designer’ brands - so I highly recommend Costco/generic versions. For a smoother taste, you could even run cheaper vodka through a Brita filter!”
The Independent has contacted Costco, Grey Goose, and Jim Beam for comment.