Be it owning distilleries or endorsing brands, many celebrities are getting involved in the alcohol industry – and for good reason. Alcohol has always been an expression of oneself, be it what you drink, how you drink it or how much the bottle costs. These celebs are using their fame to push alcohol brands, and with so many examples springing up, I thought I’d put together a list to let you know some of my favourites.
Drew Barrymore – Barrymore Wines by Carmel Road
Although Drew Barrymore hasn’t been as present on the big screen as she once was, she certainly has been busy in other areas, having started a collaboration with Carmel Road, a winery in Monterey, California. Drew, along with Kris Kato from Carmel Road, put together three unique offerings: a blend Pinot Noir, a rosé Pinot Noir and a Pinot Grigio. Drew has always been passionate about wine and its seemingly never-ending variety and depth. Her motivation? Helping you to share and create memories around a table with the ones you love.
Zhao Wei – Château Monlot
Zhao Wei, whose titles include actress, pop singer and film director, is a household name in China. After purchasing a Saint-Émilion chateau in Bordeaux, one of the world’s most prolific wine regions, in 2011, she spent a lot of money upgrading the chateau and its vineyard, which was once the property of French King Louis XIII. Until recently, Zhao has kept a low profile in terms of promoting her wines (they were mostly distributed to family and friends on a non-commercial basis). The wines were eventually launched online in China via Tmall.com, and the response from Chinese consumers has been immense, hopefully signalling a successful future for the brand. She offers both an affordable, everyday selection and a more upmarket selection for special occasions or for those with discerning taste buds. With the Chinese market for wine growing at such a fast rate, it’s no wonder celebrities like Zhao are using their star power to take advantage of the emerging market.
Yao Ming – Yao Family WinesPhoto credit: Keith Allison
Retired NBA star Yao Ming has created his own wine label, Yao Family Wines, developed exclusively for the booming Chinese wine market. The wines come in two brands. YAO MING is the flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, and then there’s YAO MING Family Reserve (which “belongs in the library of every passionate wine connoisseur”). There’s also a less pricey brand for everyday drinking with family and friends – Napa Crest – featuring a Bordeaux, a Sauvignon Blanc and a rosé. With the Chinese wine market developing so quickly, I think this move could be a slam dunk on Yao’s part.
Sam Neill – Two Paddocks
Two Paddocks’ wines, focusing on Pinot Noirs, come from four select vineyards in New Zealand owned by Sam Neill, the iconic Kiwi actor. These high-quality, organic wines are grown in Otago, the southernmost wine region in New Zealand, and can be purchased online if your local retailer doesn’t stock them. They make six varieties of Pinot Noir and a single Riesling, so you’re sure to find one that fulfils your desires.
Graham Norton – Graham Norton Wines
Not many people can make the claim that they’ve drunk wine crushed by the feet of Irish comedian and TV presenter Graham Norton. If that does, however, sound desirable to you, Graham’s wines are available through Invivo Wines in New Zealand. The Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc comes in a few different vintages, and each has had stellar reviews from tasters. Described as tropical and fruity, if you’re a Sauvignon Blanc fan and want your wine to be as palatable as those who endorse it, give Graham’s wines a look.
David Beckham – Haig Club
David Beckham, with a reputation as a world-class footballer and fashion and culture icon under his belt, has now put his name to something else (which, through mere association, is bound to be a success). Having become a brand ambassador to Haig Club, a single-grain Scotch whisky, David has once again shown that he is far from finished with refining his personal brand and helping other brands along the way. The square blue bottle is instantly recognisable and seems only fitting for someone as distinct as DB. Haig Club is crafted at the oldest distillery in Scotland and was David’s grandfather’s whisky of choice. Known for its ultra-smooth mouthfeel and toffee and butterscotch notes, Haig Club is an established favourite.
Bob Dylan – Heaven’s DoorPhoto credit: Chris Hakkens
In my opinion, Bob Dylan is the closest thing to the human embodiment of whisky, so is it any surprise that he has founded his own distillery? The Nobel laureate and music legend is undeniably one of pop culture’s greatest icons, and at age 76 he is still breaking new ground with ventures such as Heaven’s Door in Chicago (named after his famous song). What better place to found a distillery with that name than in a deconsecrated chapel? The selection includes a straight bourbon, a double-barrel whisky blend and a straight rye whiskey. I can definitely see myself knocking on Heaven’s Door in the near future!
Drake – Virginia Black Whiskey
Drake, the Canadian-born rapper, singer, songwriter and now, thanks to his delving into the whisky market, entrepreneur, is known the world over for his hit single after hit single. His fame and fortune have allowed him to diversify his business ventures, which is where Drake’s Virginia Black Whiskey comes into play. His partner, Brent Hocking (of the DeLéon tequila range), describes it as the perfect combination of great whisky, exquisite packaging and reasonable price. Drake walks it like he talks it, and he talks it damn well, so we have high expectations. After all, why risk the reputation of the genius who brought us “Hotline Bling” on a sketchy product? This whisky is made from a combination of two-, three- and four-year-old bourbon.
Justin Timberlake – Sauza 901
Justin Timberlake’s love of tequila is no secret, and that was made patently obvious in 2009 when he launched his own brand, Sauza 901. He says his passion for tequila came through travelling in Mexico. The love that tequila makers have for their craft rubbed off on Justin, who later used this inspiration to launch his own tequila. This triple-distilled spirit packs a punch, as would be expected, but it’s reportedly smooth enough to drink without a chaser. This has yet to be tested on our end, but it does sound tempting...
George Clooney – Casamigos TequilaPhoto credit: Nicolas Genin
This heart-throb silver fox started Casamigos simply out of a desire for a tequila that best suited his personal drinking preferences. George and his friend Rande Gerber had struggled to find a tequila that fully satisfied their needs whilst vacationing in Mexico when the thought occurred to them to make their own. Initially, it was exclusively made for the two of them, unavailable to the public, but after awhile, the pair were somewhat forced to put it into production simply because the quantities they were drinking put stress on the suppliers. The result is an exquisitely smooth tequila in a relatively inexpensive and unassuming bottle. The focus is on what’s inside, according to George, and this seems to be working perfectly, considering the brand’s success.
AC/DC – Thunderstruck Tequila
AC/DC’s 1990 hit “Thunderstruck” will forever be iconic, and the band is using this to push its brand of Thunderstruck Tequila. A hard-hitting and edgy song title seems only fitting for the name of a tequila brand, and the fact that it’s associated with these rock ‘n‘ roll legends makes its image even more enticing. Considering the length of AC/DC’s fame, I imagine they’ve had their fair share of parties, so when it comes to a tequila that’ll turn your night up to the next level, I reckon Thunderstruck might be your best bet.
Dan Aykroyd – Crystal Head Vodka
With the number of brands trying to produce bottles that stand out from the crowd, Dan Aykroyd’s aptly named Crystal Head Vodka is hard to beat, having a transparent glass skull as the vessel in which this quadruple-distilled (and seven-time filtered) vodka is presented. Dan was unable to find any additive-free vodka available on the market, so he decided to make his own. The bottle and the name come from Dan’s (and the bottle’s designer, John Alexander) interest in the legend of the 13 crystal skulls. It was served at the premiere of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, adding to its star value. You’ll know this one when you see it, so keep an eye out.
Sean “P Diddy” Combs – CÎROCPhoto credit: Reckless Dream Photography
Puff Daddy, P Diddy, Puffy, Sean. A man of almost as many names as he has accolades, his promotion of CÎROC is anything but subtle. P Diddy is currently one of the most respected individuals in the music industry, having had success as a rapper, record producer and songwriter. He has been in charge of the marketing and promotion of CÎROC since 2007, and its penetration into celebrity culture can be almost wholly attributed to his involvement – after all, if P Diddy is doing it, it has to be cool. CÎROC is an eau-de-vie vodka and comes in 13 flavours. You’ve probably seen it in music videos and the like, but if the opportunity arises, it’s easier on the palate than it is on the wallet, so go for it.
Channing Tatum – Born and Bred
Channing Tatum needs no introduction – chances are, he’s already won your heart. His next goal? Winning over your belly. Born and Bred arose out of Channing’s assertion that the best vodka is made in the USA, along with his desire to prove it. Having toured the USA searching for the best ’Murican distillery, he found himself at Grand Teton Distillery in Driggs, Idaho. The vodka there is made from local Idaho potatoes and the crystal water from the Grand Teton Mountains, ensuring its purity. Although vodka isn’t traditionally associated with the USA, Grand Teton Distillery seems to be getting it right. If you want to challenge Channing’s assertion, pit Born and Bred against your personal favourite and let us know your thoughts.
Baz Luhrmann – Absolut Oz
The inspiration for Oz came about during the three years in which Baz Luhrmann filmed The Great Gatsby. The nature of The Great Gatsby and its roaring 20s – Prohibition era – parties enticed Baz into the conception of his own vodka, based on his love of cocktails (which, without vodka, would be severely limited). Absolut Oz was created when he travelled to Sweden to visit the Absolut distillery, where he also designed four signature cocktails. This limited-edition vodka under Absolut was the first Australian incarnation for the brand, and the striking packaging is a testament to one of the greatest creative minds of our era.
Bill Murray (with Mikhail Baryshnikov) – Slovenia VodkaPhoto credit: Georges Biard
Slovenia Vodka was created by Chef Peter X Kelly. After an informal tasting, both Bill Murray and Mikhail Baryshnikov decided to join the team and endorse the product. Chef Kelly is renowned as one of the great restaurateurs of New York, and his attention to detail is exactly what got him this recognition. From the addition of buckwheat to the vodka for extreme smoothness to the sourcing of the water from the foothills of the Julian Alps in Slovenia, you can tell that this isn’t a case of celebrity endorsement merely for monetary purposes. Designed as the perfect culinary vodka for cooking or as a great addition to a cocktail, Slovenia covers all the bases and does so in sizzling style.
Hanson – Mmmhops
These three seemingly inseparable brothers, having already had success in the music industry with their 1997 hit single “MMMBop”, have taken their brotherly love to another venture with a very similar name – Mmmhops – a pale ale that the brothers have been tweaking for years. Not only do they swear by the best ingredients and dedication to the craft, but a portion of the proceeds from every bottle sold goes towards providing clean drinking water for those in need. For now, the brew is only available at select Oklahoma retailers, but keep an eye out, because it just might make it to a shelf near you in the not-so-distant future.
Nobu Matsuhisa – Nobu The Sake
This celebrity chef, author and restaurateur, hailing from Saitama, Japan, has added yet another element to his already overflowing catalogue of achievements, Nobu The Sake. This sake is produced by Hokusetsu Shuzo Sake Brewery in Niigata and is of the daiginjo variety. This means that it is of exceptionally high quality, as would be expected of something endorsed by a man as revered as Chef Matsuhisa. Its price, however, is relatively affordable, sitting at just under HK$200 at select local retailers – all the more reason to get your hands on it!
Hidetoshi Nakata – “N” SakePhoto credit: Norio Nakayama
Arguably the most famous Asian footballer of his generation, Hidetoshi’s class on the pitch is equalled by his class off it. His love of sake, a result of his return to his Japanese roots after years of being away from his motherland, can be seen through his “N” sake brand. This sake is extremely exclusive (with a price to match), and the complex process used to make it is so time-consuming and labour-intensive that only 800 bottles are made (by hand!) each year.
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