From high-end tequilas to more accessible wine ranges, it seems that a host of celebrities have been making their debut in the drinks industry of late. But while some might play a very public role in advertising and promoting their brands, other famous faces might be more of a surprise behind your favourite tipple.
Here, independent spirit and wine retailer House of Malt rounds up five brands you might not know are celebrity-owned and helps you decide if they’re really worth the price tag.
Porte Noire: Idris Elba
One of the celebrities opting for a slightly more behind-the-scenes role in their company, you would be forgiven for not knowing that Idris Elba co-owns luxury wine brand Porte Noire. However, make no mistake that the famous actor, boxer, producer, and DJ founded this brand in 2020 with friend and French wine expert David Ferber, after visiting the Sanger wine school in Champagne.
Planning to open a European-inspired bar of the same name in London, their wine (particularly the grand cru champagne and Provence rosé) has been well-received since its launch. As well as winning Best in Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2020, Porte Noire rosé was recently hailed by finance magazine Money as one of the best value celebrity-owned brands.
Próspero Tequila: Rita Ora
Tequila has been a popular choice among many celebrities making their foray into the industry: American stars ranging from Kendall Jenner to Guy Fieri and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson have all launched their own brands. Most notable, though, has to be George Clooney’s immensely successful tequila brand Casamigos which was recently sold for a jaw-dropping one billion dollars.
However, pop star Rita Ora has recently launched a tequila brand of her own in the UK, called Próspero. Partnering with professional Mexican distiller Stella Anguiano, Ora told The Spirits Business that she hopes her female-founded brand will make an impact in a generally male-dominated section of the industry. Some reviews have stated that their silver tequila – Próspero Blanco – is slightly underwhelming and best mixed in cocktails rather than sipped neat. However, this bottle went on to win a gold medal in the Best Blanco category at the 2020 World Tequila Awards, so for a reasonable price it may just be worth a try in your next margarita.
Invivo’s GN Range: Graham Norton
Price: Gin £29, Wine £8
You may have already heard of Invivo through its partnership with Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker. However, you may not be aware that beloved Irish talk show host Graham Norton has also been involved with the New Zealand wine company since 2011 as both a shareholder and collaborator.
According to Invivo, Norton is heavily involved in the blending and tasting process and has helped to create a range of successful wine including a South Australian Shiraz, Italian prosecco, and a New Zealand rosé. After these received recognition from the Sydney International Wine Competition and the UK People’s Choice Awards, Invivo ventured into the world of gin. Creating a small batch distilled in West Cork, Norton celebrates his Irish heritage with a range of classic dry, pink, and orange marmalade gin. Both wine and gin ranges have received very positive reviews alongside their reasonable price.
Proper No. Twelve: Conor McGregor
Known for his outspoken and often controversial public persona, you will likely have heard that MMA fighter Conor McGregor launched his own brand of Irish whiskey in 2018. Named after the area code of Dublin he grew up in, Proper No. Twelve is a single malt whiskey distilled at Bushmills.
While McGregor was heavily involved in promoting his brand, what many consumers may not be aware of is just how quickly this whiskey company grew. With stocks owned by big names in the drink industry such as José Cuervo, McGregor’s brand is valued at a cool $200 million (VinePair). The bottles are an accessible price for the average whiskey fan, but some industry reviews suggest that the spirit itself might not hold up to its owner’s reputation.
Haig Club: David Beckham
Arguably the most well-known name in English football, David Beckham is another high-profile athlete who has put his name to a spirit company. Slightly ahead of the curve, Beckham has been involved with the Diageo-owned whisky range since 2014. Haig Club aims to convert a younger generation of vodka and gin drinkers with an entry-level, single grain whisky that’s lighter than a single malt.
With slightly mixed reviews in terms of this lighter taste, Haig Club is marketed more as a whole package experience due to its distinctive bottle and luxury packaging. At a slightly reduced price from the original £40, this arguably improves its value for money, but Beckham’s Haig Club might not be one for the whisky connoisseurs out there.
Ben Turnbull, director and head wine buyer at House of Malt, said: “Whether they’re the public face of their brand or take on a more behind-the-scenes role, it’s often a surprise to know that our favourite actors, performers, or athletes have launched their own drinks companies.
“However, with a host of big names now in the drinks industry, it can sometimes be hard to separate the quality of the product from their celebrity endorsement. Trying to keep an objective eye can help you identify which brands are truly worth their price tag, even if it’s owned by your favourite actor!”