Most brands lead with their credentials.
Most brands spend a long time talking about themselves, how their artisanally sourced ingredients are transmuted in branded gold in specially designed hand-packed mud houses by indigenous banjo players.
Most brands spend so long talking about themselves I’m too thirsty to truly appreciate the first sip.
Most brands are not Grey Goose.
A couple weeks back, I was deemed sufficiently influential to attend #tastebyappointment, the elegant branded consumer experience being rolled out around the world by Grey Goose.
Tucked carefully upstairs in a private room at Gowings, the world’s best tasting vodka™ decided to talk not about itself, but about taste and its very personal nature.
I commence with a flute of Le Fizz.
Frustrated by guests reaching not for vodka but for Champagne at events, Global Grey Goose Ambassador Joe McCanta devised this elegant twist on a French 75 to satisfy the style choices of his guests while also driving depletion. The mix of St. Germain, lime juice and Grey Goose is bought alive with a dash of soda. The pleasing result is further proof that everything does indeed taste better for the addition of the beautifully bottled elderflower liqueur. My only complaint is that the first three glasses must have had holes in them, given they seemed to be drained very quickly.
Almost too soon I am ushered into a beautifully arranged room and shown a place at the well-set table.
Cue Joe McCanta.
In the galaxy of global brand talent, McCanta truly shines. His easy Californian charm holds the rooms attention as he introduces the evening and bids us all to try what turns out to be a yeasty and somewhat average piece of bread adorning our side plates.
It turns out, the trick of taste is intentional, McCanta has asked the kitchen to omit salt from the mix. A smear and a sprinkle transforms average to outstanding.
Salt rocks, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Our second lesson arrives as the entree.
Three morsels epitomise sour, sweet and bitter. This exercise is about determining our own, unique personal taste preference.
Unsurprisingly, things turn out bitter for me.
The lesson is reinforced by some cut crystal cocktail making. Building our very own vodka old fashioned tweaked to match salty, sour, sweet and bitter is surprisingly engaging distraction.
There is vigorous agreement around the table of our own flavourful superiority.
My bottle seems emptier than most.
I make another.
The main is placed before me.
The third lesson is about umami.
Not a large wave that crushes coastal villages, but the flavour that enhances everything else.
Potentially a little je ne sais quoi.
The steak comes paired with a truffle martini.
$600 worth of black truffle, sous vide’d into the Grey Goose. James Marcel Bernard Wynn-Williams mentions other ingredients but my head’s too full of truffle to truly take it in.
My mind wanders to thoughts of geese stuffed for Christmas.
If you want to know what cocktail pairing with food is about, this is a great example. a mouthful of food and a mouthful of cocktail add up to something bigger.
Unctuous, in the best possible way.
The meal finishes with a little pear-on-pear action.
A pear tart with some chilled Grey Goose Poire.
The buttery custard and almond crunch saves me from cloying sameness, but it is a hard landing after the tropospheric truffle.
I adjourn to the members lounge to pursue my bitter tastes.
Choice words and battle stories are shared by the gathering throng.
Something about cocktails in space.
Good times all round.
I try another.
and, responsibly, another.
All too soon I am in a cab atop the Anzac Bridge, peering West across the inky water at Glebe and my home beyond.
I am struck by the presentation of a vodka comfortable with who it is.
Comfortable to let me connect their brand to my experience.
Comfortable enough to let the passion of its people shine brighter than a neon POS display.
Most brands simply talk about themselves.
Most brands are not Grey Goose.