By Aaron Goldfarb // VIEW ON EQUIRE
Part of being a shameless celebrity now is having your own liquor. But are any of them any good?
By the time you read this, five more celebrities will launch their own spirits companies. Colin Jost will release a lo-cal tequila. Steven Segal will get into the Japanese whisky game. TikToker Dixie D’Amelio will start a coconut rum brand.
Just three years ago, when I tried to rank every celebrity spirit for Esquire, the number sat at 37, and even then, some were pretty dubious. (I’ve yet to see a bottle of Danny Devito’s supposed Limoncello.) That was so long ago, in fact, that my number one choice was an absinthe from Marilyn Manson; today the goth icon claims he hates the taste of absinthe, has quit drinking, and currently faces numerous lawsuits for alleged sexual abuse.
Good thing so many other ego-driven jerk-offs have entered the fray. In fact, there are so many celebrity spirits it’s hard to keep track. Luckily, I shit you not, there’s an app, GrapeStars, specifically designed to help consumers identify any and all celebrity alcohols on the market. The question many people would rather know the answer to, however, is: Are any of these any good?
If you have a high-enough profile and a hefty checkbook, it’s not hard to get meetings in Kentucky or Jalisco or even Slovenia, partner with distributors, and find yourself walking out the door with a contract for some pretty good liquid. And yet, “pretty good liquid” is not why anyone buys celebrity spirits. We buy them to feel close to a beloved celebrity, to feel like the celebrity, and because we are completely able to ignore the fact that it’s patently absurd to think a musclebound movie star is pounding whiskey shots every single night before his 4 a.m. call time.
For the following ranking, I included any spirits brand that is visibly owned, invested in, or heavily promoted by a celebrity. I also included any brand bold enough to grant a non-owner celebrity some bullshit title like “CEO of Fun.” In some of these cases, I struggled mightily determining whether an individual was actually a celebrity; other times I struggled to establish whether, say, an ill-conceived celebrity cognac venture was still on the market. But I did the best I could.
I haven’t included any celebrity beers, sakes, meads, hard seltzers, canned cocktails, or wines, though there are some good ones, like Kyle MacLachlan’s Pursued by Bear. Likewise, if a celebrity has sold off their ownership in the brand, I no longer included it in this list unless the brand still shamelessly uses said celeb in marketing materials.
Speaking of shamelessness, it is as rampant in the world of celebrity booze as appropriating other cultures, unnecessarily capitalizing letters, and describing a product as “exceptionally smooth.” And if you’re gonna be shameless, you’re going to lose some points in my ranking, no matter how good the liquid tastes. Here goes…
Heaven’s Door Whiskey — Bob Dylan
This is one of the better-tasting celebrity spirits lines out there (whether the brand’s bourbon, rye, Tennessee whiskey, or certainly more high-end Master Blenders' release), and it’s connected to one of the most iconic celebrity spirits endorsers. Yet, it’s hard to really admire the celebrity spirit in question when it seems possible the celebrity isn’t even aware he’s associated with it. (As far as I can tell, Dylan has never once given an interview regarding Heaven’s Door.)
Star power: 10