5 Failed Celebrity Booze Brands

Celebrities have been in the alcohol game for some time now, endorsing and even creating new spirits. As consumers become more informed and opinionated about their whiskey, rum, and vodka, clever celebrities are jumping on board with some truly extraordinary and expensive booze offerings of their own. Of course, there are exceptions. These are some of the failed celebrity attempts…

Mariah Carey’s Angel Champagne

Launched in 2010, Angel Champagne by MC was backed by Italian businessman Stefano Zagni, who in an interview with The Independent outlined his longstanding passion for the art of winemaking, saying: “I was exporting construction products to America and I used to be in top-end clubs and restaurants. I saw people buying champagne and I thought I wanted to produce the world’s most fantastic champagne.”

The brand launched its first 24 bottles for £25,000. That’s roughly £1,500 per bottle, making it the most expensive example of its type in the history of Champagne.

Her brand involvement went as far as reportedly ordering a $1600 bottle of Angel champagne – and had it delivered to the ladies toilet on a night out in New York.

As for the reviews, wine critic Stuart Heritage of the Guardian predict it will “taste like a bottle of sweat that’s had an AA battery dropped in it.”

The deal was doomed to fail from the beginning. In 2006, Wine Spectator reported that she doesn’t drink the stuff, because it “hurts her throat.”

Richard Branson’s Virgin Vodka

Virgin Vodka hit the market in 1994 in partnership with William Grant and Sons. The product was withdrawn from the market some years later, as Virgin Drinks disbanded in 2007. The company was a subsidiary of the Virgin Group and also marketed Virgin Cola.

The company has previously also tried to market a range of beverages in the same functional energy class as Red Bull and Red Devil. These beverages were available in three different flavours (including Lemon and Lime) and were marketed in day-time versions (Virgin DT) and night-time versions (Virgin NT, a FAB with added vodka). They were only around for a very short amount of time.

After thirteen years, the brand started to massively decline as rival Coca-Cola had made exclusive distribution deals in big stores and restaurants. This led to Virgin Drinks only being sold in select supermarkets and local stores. The Virgin Group decided it could not compete with cola rivals.

In 2007, Virgin Drinks sold over the rights of Virgin Cola to a company called Silver Spring Soft Drinks. Virgin Vodka was discontinued when Virgin Drinks failed to find a buyer.

Pharrell Williams’s Qream liqueur

A fight between drinks giant Diageo and musician Pharrell Williams took place in 2013, when the rapper/record producer/fashion designer sued Diageo for its handling of his beloved Qream liqueur, which it scrapped due to poor sales.

In federal court, Williams claimed: “Diageo North America’s unilateral decision – halfway into the initial term of the agreement – to put no effort in producing or distributing Qream fails to meet its contractual obligation to use its commercially reasonable efforts to market and distribute the product throughout the three-year term.”

Pharrell conceived the brand as a “high-end leisure class” cream liqueur that symbolised “the beautiful, independent and sophisticated women of today”. Diageo focussed on clubbing (who drinks cream liqueurs in a nightclub?), and so, exeunt Qream.

Donald Trump’s Trump Vodka

There’s a reason why Americans don’t order Trump & Tonics. Bloomberg reports, in 2016, billionaire Republican presidential candidate (at the time) was giving a victory speech in Florida. Next to him was a display table piled high with Trump-branded merchandise for sale. “We make the finest wine, as good a wine as you can get,” Trump said of the dozens of bottles of Trump wine. “I supply the water for all my places, and it’s good—but it’s very good,” he said about the shrink-wrapped cases of Trump water. Trump mentioned Trump Vodka, too. But there’s no Trump Vodka on the table for the TV cameras to zoom in on.

One week later, J. Patrick Kenny, the creator of Trump Vodka, is sitting in his New York office, sipping a Diet Coke and explaining what had gone wrong. Not even he has a bottle of the stuff left. Trump Vodka had problems, from distillery to bottling to finance. Like his bankrupt casinos, closed college, and other dead-end brand journeys, Trump Vodka was a flamboyant exercise in failure. Trump, naturally, insists it was a triumph, though good luck finding a bottle today. Its slogan was “Success Distilled.”

Just like Marey, the vodka’s namesake wouldn’t drink it. Trump, a teetotaler.

Danny DeVito’s Limoncello

Danny DeVito’s acting career continues to boom, as the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star just received a star of his own on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. But he hasn’t had nearly as much luck with his side efforts in the booze business.

In 2016, the actor appeared on the TODAY show and revealed just what happened to the company he bought after one memorable night of drunken debauchery with pal George Clooney. That now-infamous appearance apparently featured a business-launching quote.

“I said, ‘The last seven limoncellos got me,’” DeVito recalled. “So I started importing limoncello.”

But while it seemed like a good idea at the time — to buy into an Italian liqueur brand —  turned about to be a less than successful endeavor.

“There were some little snafus of getting it into the country, and I kind of let it sit. Now, I still own the brand of limoncello, but I only have about four or five bottles left. But I got a lot of publicity out of it.”

At least there’s that.