10 famous liquor brands and how we rated them

You wouldn’t imagine: a growing number of celebrities, sports personalities and pop culture icons are launching their own brands of alcohol.

Some say they do it for the love of the spirit. Although not involved in the distillation, many have a say in the final flavor profiles. Others have partnered with well-known distilleries or master distillers to build their brands.

And of course, some see it as an opportunity for promotion or investment. In the wake of celebrities like George Clooney selling Casamigos and Ryan Reynolds selling Aviation Gin for around $1 billion and $610 million respectively, both to Diageo, it’s no wonder more and more big names are planning to get into the game.

So which celebrity liquor companies are worth pouring? Here are 10 bottles of well-known stars that we’ve rated 90 points or more.

Dwayne Johnson

Getty / Courtesy of Teremana Anejo

Also known as “The Rock” from his days as a professional wrestler and heavyweight champion, Johnson is an actor with film credits including Jumanji, several slices of fast furious deductible and central intelligence, among others. In 2020, he co-founded the Teremana Tequila brand.

Teremana Añejo Tequila, $40, 93 points. The new expression of the brand supported by Dwayne Johnson offers tangy aromas of jalapeño and vanilla. Honey and caramel coat the palate, enlivened by cloves, cayenne pepper and white pepper on the exit. The general impression suggests a butter biscuit rolled in spices. Best buy.

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey next to a bottle of Longbranch bourbon
Getty / The Whiskey Exchange

After a breakout role in the 1993 film Dazed and confused, in the 2000s, McConaughey became known for his romantic comedies such as The wedding planner and How to lose a guy in 10 days. In 2016, he took on the role of Creative Director at Kentucky’s Wild Turkey, where he collaborated on Longbranch Bourbon with master distiller Eddie Russell.

Longbranch Bourbon, $40, 92 points. Mellow aromas of maple, vanilla and a hint of dried cherry seduce. The palate echoes these flavors, bringing a light burst of clove and cinnamon spice. Adding water softens the flavor profile of vanilla cookie dough, sprinkled with ginger and allspice. It was filtered through Texas mesquite charcoal.

Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars next to a bottle of SelvaRey Cacao
Getty / Total Wine and more

Singer-songwriter Mars has a string of Grammy-winning hits. He also has a stake in Panamanian rum maker SelvaRey, which makes white and aged rums as well as coconut and chocolate flavored rums. In an interview with Bloomberg, the “Uptown Funk” singer said he wanted to take the rum to a “funkier” place.

SelvaRey Cocoa, $29, 90 points. This chocolate flavored dark rum is smooth and delicious, with a light nutty flavor and a dusty cocoa finish. Mix with cold brew espresso and coconut milk for a memorable coffee libation.

Dan Aykroyd

Dan Akroyd next to a bottle of Crystal Head Onyx Vodka
Getty / Wine.com

In 2008, actor, comedian and former Saturday Night Live Star Dan Aykroyd founded the Crystal Head vodka brand. The memorable skull bottles designed by John Alexander were inspired by the Day of the Dead celebrations Alexander had attended in Oaxaca, Mexico for several years. In 2020, the brand released an expression called Crystal Head Onyx, distilled from blue agave in Mexico.

Crystal Head Onyx Vodka, $55, 90 points. Packaged in a black skull-shaped bottle, this vodka is distilled from agave. Expect light honey notes on the nose and palate, leading to distinct coconut and clove accents on the finish.

Rita Ora

Rita Ora next to a bottle of Prospero Tequila Anejo
Getty / Drizly

In 2019, Kosovo-born pop icon Ora assumed the role of main creative partner and shareholder of Próspero. Although the tequila is made by Stella Anguiano, one of the first female tequila distillers, at the Don Roberto distillery in Jalisco, Ora said Passionate about wine she is “more than just a spokesperson” for the brand.

Próspero Añejo Tequila, $45, 97 points. Complex and enjoyable, with an intriguing sweet-salty profile. Look for a deep burnished golden hue and aromas of jalapeño and dried oregano mingling with coconut, vanilla and lemon zest. The palate opens with dried herbs and a sweet jalapeño heat, melting into a long finish of coconut and vanilla cream, enhanced by sparks of baking spices. All in all, excellent example of an añejo.

Terry Bradshaw

Terry Bradshaw next to Bradshaw Bourbon
Getty / Total Wine and more

Bradshaw Bourbon debuted in 2020 and is a collaboration between longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Kentucky whiskey maker Green River Distilling and Silver Screen Bottling, a company specializing in television-related alcoholic beverages , movies, sports, gaming and music businesses.

Bradshaw Bourbon, $40, 91 points. From former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw, this two-year-old Bourbon is bottled at 51.9% “in tribute to Terry Bradshaw’s success rate of the same number.” The contents of the bottle are tinged with toasted nuts and vanilla on the nose and palate, ending with hints of black pepper and a puff of smoke.

pogues

The Pouges gang next to a bottle of Pogues
Getty/Varto Store

The Anglo-Irish Celtic punk band The Pogues own 50% of this Irish whiskey (the other half is owned by Halewood International, a British spirits brand). It was launched in the United States in 2016, although it was available earlier in England and Ireland. The liquid is made by West Cork Distillers, an independent distillery in County Cork.

The Pogues whiskey, $40, 91 points. ‘The official Irish whiskey of the legendary band’, this robust spirit is made at West Cork Distillers, one of the last two 100% independently owned and operated distilleries in Ireland. The aromas suggest stone fruit and a puff of smoke. The palate also shows smoke, plus the richness of dried apricot and a mouth-watering saline finish. A blend of whiskeys aged 5 to 10 years. Best buy.

Jay Z

Jay Z next to D'Usse VSOP cognac
Getty / The liquor barn

In 2012, the rapper, magnate and champagne owner signed on as co-owner (with Bacardi) and muse of D’Ussé, a brand of cognac launched as a competitor to Hennessy.

Cognac D’Ussé VSOP, $50, 91 points. This cognac offers a deep copper hue and rich aromas of caramel and dried fig. The silky mouth echoes the note of dried fig, accompanied by a hint of red fruits reminiscent of port, ending in particular at length on notes of cocoa, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan next to a bottle of Heaven's Door Whiskey
Getty / Bourbon Street Wines and Spirits

In 2018, the iconic singer-songwriter launched a brand of whiskey referencing his 1973 song Knock on heaven’s door. Co-founded with Marc Bushala, who also helped bring Angel’s Envy whiskey to market, the Tennessee-based brand sources whiskey from various locations across the United States. The collection includes bourbon, rye and a number of limited editions.

Heaven’s Door Double Barrel Whiskey, $50, 92 points. Look for a sweet aroma that marries honey and oak. The palate leads to oak, then toasted vanilla and dried apricot, with a long, peppery, warm finish. Adding water brings out sweeter notes of honey and chamomile. Notice to music lovers: this brand was developed in collaboration with Bob Dylan.

james lebron

LeBron James next to a bottle of Lobos Reposado PX Tequila
Getty / Reserve Bar

In 2020, Lakers basketball star LeBron James invested in tequila and mezcal brand Lobos 1707, reportedly after falling in love with tequila while vacationing in the Mediterranean.

Tequila Lobos Reposado PX, $48, 92 points. This tequila is aged for six months in American oak barrels, then finished in PX sherry casks and blended with a splash of extra añejo tequila. The end result is rich, honeyed tones with a bit of savory flavor. Aromas of cooked agave and coconut dominate the nose, while the mouth opens with distinctly peppery notes. Bell pepper and jalapeño follow clove, cayenne pepper, coconut and vanilla.

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