Update: Vaad Hakashrus Belz USA withdraws their declaration on the kashrus of Grey Goose vodka.
While social media exploded with the premise that the popular Grey Goose and kosher consumers’ goose was cooked, the CRC issued a clarification in hopes of putting an end to the false allegations. The rumor spreading like wildfire on social media was based on the false allegation that the Chicago Rabbinical Council (CRC) and other kashrus agencies had prohibited the unflavored version of Grey Goose Vodka due to a component of wine as an ingredient.
The initial social media post appears to have been based on a misunderstanding started by someone on WhatsApp
The CRC has since released a statement of clarification on their website reading:
“Those who keep kosher would never eat in a restaurant without a reliable hechsher, nor bring products into their homes unless verified to be kosher. The assumption is that prepared food and beverages are not kosher until verified otherwise. It is well-known that we maintain one of the largest kosher Liquor Lists in the world, investing considerable research to find acceptable kosher liquor options for consumers. We firmly believe that products which are certified-kosher are preferable to those listed as approved, as these avoid any kashrus issues. Nevertheless, as a community-based hechsher, we feel it is important to do careful research and provide options for those who may not have access to certified products.
It has come to our attention that a popular vodka, produced in France, was considered acceptable in kosher homes even without a hechsher. The cRc has always advised that vodka produced in France, Ireland, and New Zealand requires special attention out of concern that it may be produced from wine or dairy alcohol. In fact, there have been persistent rumors that this vodka from France contains alcohol produced from wine. As we know, wine products require special hashgacha to avoid the concern of stam yeinam – wine produced by non-observant Jews. As stated, we believe that unless a particular product meets generally accepted guidelines for kosher liquor, the assumption is that the product is not kosher until verified otherwise.
Because of the above, we never officially published that it was not recommended nor did we say it was recommended. We simply left it off our kosher liquor list because vodka from France needs to be verified as kosher.
In recent days, a consumer that spoke to one of our staff correctly posted on a WhatsApp Group that we do not recommend it, but this was misinterpreted and reposted by others outside the cRc (without contacting us first) to state that we have firsthand knowledge that there is wine in the product. This is untrue. Our position was based on the stated concern.
After extensive research, we have now discovered that there is a special run produced under hashgacha specifically for the Israeli market (with kashering the lines to avoid any contact with equipment used for non-kosher products) and we have verified that the source for the standard alcohol for this company is solely grain based.
However, this same company does produce a non-kosher version of vodka which contains grape based alcohol, but the standard unflavored version is solely grain based. Therefore, as long the company continues to maintain special kosher runs, the above information is considered accurate.
We once again maintain that it is best to consume these products with a proper hechsher.”
At least one kashrus agency has ruled the vodka may not be consumed, the Belzer vaad hakashrus. It is not clear what the basis is for that ruling, or whether it still stands, in light of the statement above.
The following is a letter from Rav Asher Eckstein: