Not generally accessible
+33 5 45 80 04 10
11 Route Laubaret (off N141),
The Grey Goose blending and bottling plant in Gensac in the heart of the Cognac region receives tankers containing 96% alc./vol. wheat distillate from the third-party owned distillery. Here, the distillate is reduced to bottling strength using de-mineralised water from the plants own wells before bottling on site. This is also where flavouring essences are added to make the Grey Gooses range of flavoured vodkas.
Deep in "the breadbasket of France" are the soft winter wheat fields of Picardie. Located in the north of the country, the area is blessed with perfect wheat growing conditions; an ideal combination of temperature, humidity and rich alluvial soil. The wheat used to make Grey Goose is supplied exclusively by three farming cooperatives made up of family run farms in the Picardie region of Northern France, an area with a climate perfectly suited to wheat production. One square metre of farming land produces enough wheat to make just one bottle of Grey Goose vodka.
The variety of wheat used to make Grey Goose is Blé Panifiable Supérieur, the same wheat used to make the finest French bread and pastries. This arrives at the distillery in 25-ton lorries where it is checked for quality and moisture content before being stored in a 320 ton silo. Before it can be fermented, the wheat must first be milled into flour.
Grey Goose's distillery lies on the edge of the small town of Saint-Quentin in the heart of the Picardie region where the wheat is grown. This proximity ensures a plentiful supply of quality grain and milling of the wheat on-site at the distillery maximises its freshness when fermentation begins.
As with every other aspect of Grey Goose production, the milling process benefits from custom-designed technology. In this case, a series of extraordinary contraptions linked by transparent tubes zig-zag across the ceiling, propelling the grain into different machines on different floors of the multi-story mill building next to the fermentation tanks. It's sieved, the dust is removed and then it's put through a remarkable vibrating machine which removes any stones or other foreign bodies.
Once the wheat has been moistened and rested for 24 hours, it's subjected to the most impressive of all the machines: The Plansichter. Despite sounding like a German S&M club, the purpose of the contraption is actually to grind down and sieve the wheat through four different rollers which get consecutively smaller so that the grain is ground to a fine flour - perfect for maximum fermentation. Water is added to the flour to turn it into a paste, and enzymes are added to the mixture to start breaking down the starch to make sugars.
Grey Goose are reticent to divulge the exact process. However, we can tell you that five state-of-the-art continuous column stills are used and that the rectification columns operate under a partial vacuum. And that the mash goes into the first column still at 10% abv and emerges from the third and fourth rectification columns at 96.3% abv.
The rectified high proof wheat spirit is transported the 600 kilometres from the distillery to Gensac, Grey Goose's purpose built blending and bottling plant. Although there have already been more than 500 quality checks between the wheat fields and Gensac, the high proof spirit is checked again on arrival. At this point the vodka is still at 96% abv - the same strength it was transported at, so the next step in the process is to blend with the all important water to reduce it to bottling strength.
The Gensac plant was completed in 2001 - before that, the blending and bottling was handled at the H. Mounier's facilities in Cognac. Just as the distillery is strategically sited in the wheat-growing plains of Northern Picardie, the bottling plant is purposefully located in Gensac - in the suburbs of Cognac, a region famed amongst distillers for its soft and slightly sweet spring water. This originates in the North East of Cognac, passing through limestone soil to emerge in the Gensac spring.
The water Grey Goose uses comes from a well just outside the building. Although the water is very 'pure', excess minerals must be removed so there's no residue and sedimentation present in the finished vodka. No chemicals are used to extract the minerals - instead the water is de-mineralised by reverse osmosis. This involves it being pumped through tubes at a very high pressure and then being forced through a selective membrane. The larger molecules and ions are unable to pass through the membrane and so are separated from the now demineralised water.
When the molecules of alcohol and water meet, they release energy, which means that the mixture rises 7C during blending. The blend is left to settle for an hour to allow the spirit and water to coalesce before being agitated and pushed through a particle filter, which helps the two liquids gel. A further filtration through cellulose pads impregnated with activated carbon also enhances the visual 'polish' and the shine of the spirit.
This filtration is relatively light compared to other vodkas and takes place at ambient temperature (not chill filtered) using five micron filter pads. This ensures the taste and character derived from the high quality grain and careful production processes are not stripped out by excessively harsh filtration.
Before being released to the bottling line each batch must be tested in the lab but even high-tech lab equipment can't test taste so each batch is also tasted by a panel, personally trained by François Thibault to detect even slight variations. The panel are drawn from all areas of production and you won't be surprised to learn that they volunteered.
There are two bottling lines at the plant - one for small bottles up to 500ml and the other, a faster line running at 12,000 bottles per hour, for larger ones. Both run daily from 6am to 9pm. Firstly, the bottles are rinsed with Grey Goose vodka, and then the spirit is gravity fed into them. The bottling plant is the final stop of this lengthy journey - a whirring room of bottles being filled every hour and then dispatched to each corner of the world.
An orange-flavoured line extension of Grey Goose vodka, launched in the US in 2000 and 2002 in the UK. The clear goose-shaped window on the distinctive frosted bottle magnifies a Paul Cézanne painting of a bowl of oranges printed on the back of the bottle.
This, the third flavoured Grey Goose line extension, was launched in 2003, a year that saw a plethora of other vanillered vodkas launch. It was subsequently taken off the market in 2007 when the brand launched its successful La Poire pear flavour.
Grey Goose vodka launched in 1997 (UK 2001). It is distilled from wheat grown in Picardie, northern France using a five column process to produce an exceptionally pure distillate. Grey Goose is then blended with demineralised limestone-filtered spring water in the heart of France’s cognac region.
Two distinct processes are required to produce the citrus oil extract used in Grey Goose Le Citron. The first is based on the maceration of Menton lemons and the second is based on the extraction of essential oils from lemons grown in Argentina and Brazil.