How A Splash of Premium Vodka and 2 Parts Diddy Catapulted Cîroc

April 11, 2011  |  

By Joshua G. Thomas

Household names such as Absolut, Grey Goose, Smirnoff and Ketel One have reigned supreme as the premiere vodka brands for quite sometime. Yet, recently, a newcomer has stepped up to the plate to challenge the champions for the title. Since its American debut in 2003, Cîroc Ultra-Premium has become one of vodka’s hottest brands and one of the top ultra-premium vodkas.

“I would put it in the top five most requested [vodkas],” said Faruq Hussein-Bey, a bartender for a national hotel chain. “More people are ordering it across the board, putting it right up there with Grey Goose, Absolut, Ketel One and Stoli’s (Stolichnaya).”

The numbers tell a similar tale. After less than a decade in the business, Cîroc has become one of the most recognizable and sought after spirits in the liquor industry. Ciroc sales jumped to $8.8 million for the year ending January 23rd and earned the brand the number two spot on the list of top-selling ultra premium vodkas, according to SymphonyIRI.

So what has set Cîroc apart from its more established competitors? To what do we attribute Cîroc’s success in such a short period of time?

The finely produced vodka is a selling point in its own right. The process of making the vodka, more accurately categorized as an eau de vie, is unique in that it more closely resembles that of winemaking. It begins with its signature “snap frost” grapes and the entire process takes place while the base product is kept chilled. First, there is the cold maceration (when crushed grape skins are left in the juice until the desired color is reached), then cold fermentation and cold storage. Finally, it is distilled five times before completion.

This unique process has raised eyebrows among vodka purists. Although Cîroc meets the vodka criteria of being colorless and odorless, some make an argument that it falls short because it is not “made like traditional vodka from grains or wheat, but from snap frost grapes,” said Hussein-Bey.

In its earlier years, Cîroc lacked the status and the market share that it now boasts. The turning point came in 2007 when Cîroc’s parent company, London-based Diageo, brought on Sean “Diddy” Combs to take the reigns of all marketing and branding for Cîroc. As a result of this deal, Combs would acquire half of all profits in an equal-share venture, according to Bloomberg.

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  • faye

    Diddy…you are a bad mofo

  • Chris

    "The vodka retails for about $30 (750 ml) while its competitors generally go for less. For example, Grey Goose is sold at $25 (750 ml). Absolut, Ketel One, and Smirnoff sell for roughly $22, $34, $25, and $20 respectively"

    Have you ever walked into a liquor store. This statement untrue.

    and how do 3 different vodkas sell for 4 different prices respectively?


  • Tah

    Ciroc is the best because those other vodkas taste like pee

  • I think most people do try ciroc because diddy is known as the ultimate party guy, however once you try it you have got to admit it is good. S/o to diddy, I thought I told ya that we won’t stop.

  • j

    I’m a big vodka drinker-from Belvedere to some obscure potatoe vodka. Ciroc is super smooth especially the Ciroc coconut. It’s light and tastes like a Malibu or a Parrot Bay rum. But after a couple glasses, it feels like a Vodka. It definitely has a sneak factor.

  • Kat11

    I wasn't an avid fan of vodkas, I would drink them occasionally with mixed drinks. I am more of a wine connoisseur and I am not young. However, I agree with the previous assessor, it truly has a better taste than the other vodkas and I have tried them all. I am in the entertainment industry, had a family member that was a major NBA player, have been a legal professional, a corporate PR executive and the brand speaks of authenticity. Also, Mr. Combs has done an excellent job of marketing the brand, he's done everything right and I can speak as an authoritarian on the subject matter. Those that tout that the identification is solely with him are undermining what this young man has accomplished and has always accomplished successfully. He is a marketing genius and so is his team. Kudos to Ciroc & kudos to team Combs. By the way, many of the professionals I know either choose Ciroc or Kettle One

  • Taj

    Ciroc is great and the others not so much. Diddy brought awareness to the vodka which is why I tried it,I had never heard of it . I was originally team Grey Goose, but I after I tried Ciroc I switched because it was much smoother. If it wasn’t better then I would’ve switched, no matter who was endorsing it.

  • Laii

    just because puff markets the drink doesn’t make it the sole reason why my friends and I drink it. ciroc is so smooth & it doesn’t have the alcholhol taste like goose does. & it sneaks up on you. Lol I socially drink & I make sure that ciroc is my first choice. coconut or redberry. don’t forget the splash of pineapple 🙂

    • Greeneyez712

      Omg!!! I just had the Raspberry…..and it was sooooo good….Yeah buddy it does sneak up on you…….Cheeze!!!