Porn stars, rock stars, rap stars, and has-been stars are all making their own wines and spirits. The illusion of fame by association seems to be working, because people are buying it. Here’s a look at some of the celebrity-branded drinks being peddled.
1. Caduceus Cellars. Maynard James Keenan, the frontman for Tool and A Perfect Circle, has been making wine since 2004, and has a blog on Wine Spectator’s website. He’s quite the connoisseur, raining disdain on fellow rocker-cum–wine dude Vince Neil (who also makes tequila, see number 6 below): “I would avoid at all costs anything resembling Vince Neil’s wine…,” he told the A.V. Club. “You pour it, and you’re like, ‘Oh, my fucking God—are there pickles in here?’”
2. Trump Vodka. The Donald’s offering promises to be worthy of the Trump name by being “the world’s finest super premium vodka.” Not enough hyperbole? It’s also “quintuple-distilled” and “the epitome of vodka that will demand the same respect and inspire the same awe as the international legacy and brand of Donald Trump himself.” Available in original, citron, raspberry, orange, and grape.
3. Mansinthe. In 2007, Marilyn Manson partnered with the Swiss distillery Matter-Luginbühl AG and absinthe.de founder Markus Lion to launch his own absinthe. The musician has frequently boasted about binging on the liquor, telling MTV that he was “trying to get to that place where you think and behave like a child or a lunatic.” Despite some poor reviews, Mansinthe won a gold medal at the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, beating out boutique brands such as St. George Spirits.
4. Danny DeVito’s Premium Limoncello. After showing up for a segment on The View seemingly drunk, the enterprising Mr. DeVito came out with his own brand of limoncello. It’s made with organic lemons from Sorrento, Italy, with no artificial colors or flavors. When we sampled it, we found it more sugary than lemony, kind of like commercial lemon curd with booze.
5. Old Whiskey River Bourbon. Willie Nelson’s small-batch, six-year bourbon made in Kentucky comes with a red bandanna–print seal and a signature guitar pick on the bottle. Chowhounds give it lukewarm reviews: joypirate noted that it was “not the best, but very satisfying … I was skeptical of a ‘celebrity’ bourbon though perhaps Willie transcends such things.” TNbourbon wasn’t impressed: “It’s a year younger than Evan Williams Black Label … costs about three times as much, and is far inferior.”
6. Tres Rios Tequila Silver. This 100 percent agave tequila is labeled “A Vince Neil Selection,” and even sports a breezy photo of the Mötley Crüe frontman enjoying a margarita in his cowboy hat and unbuttoned white shirt (printed on a card tied to the bottle’s neck). CHOW tasters felt it was an acceptable mixer, but called out its vague “plastic bottle” taste and aroma.
7. Little Jonathan Winery. Rapper Lil Jon became winemaker Little Jonathan earlier this year, launching a Monterey Merlot, Central Coast Chardonnay, and Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon. The King of Crunk, whose entrée to the liquid refreshment world was Crunk!!! Energy Drink, told the Associated Press that his wine “is not no ghetto Boone’s Farm.”
8. Savanna Samson Sogno Due. Savanna Samson is a porn star. In addition to sex, she sells wine. Her first, an Italian red made by Roberto Cipresso from a blend of Cesanese, Sangiovese, and Montepulciano called Sogno Uno, caused quite a stir when Robert Parker rated it 90 to 91 (outstanding). When CHOW tasted Sogno Due, her white Italian Falanghina (a very old Roman varietal), we were surprised by how summery and light it was. We might even buy it if it were a little cheaper.
9. Koala Blue Wines. Also making wine—but not porn—is Olivia Newton-John, and her Australian wine label, Koala Blue, which produces Chardonnay and Shiraz. Newton-John founded the label in 1983, so we have to give it to her for being ahead of the curve.
10. Dr. Dre Cognac. Straight out of Compton comes “Dr. Dre’s super premium” Cognac, scheduled to be released later this year. There’s also a sparkling vodka in the works, which might mix nicely with Lil Jon’s Crunk!!! Energy Drink for a gangsta cocktail.
CHOW’s The Ten column appears every Tuesday.