Grey Goose was created by Sidney Frank Importing Co (SFIC). Sidney Frank, founder/CEO of the company, developed the idea in the summer of 1996. The idea for Grey Goose was to develop a luxury vodka for the American marketplace. SFIC partnered with cognac producer François Thibault (a French Maître de Chai, or, Cellar Master) in France in order to transition his skills from cognac to vodka production. The company selected France due to the country's culinary history and to differentiate itself from other vodkas produced in Eastern Europe. The water used to produce the vodka came from natural springs in France filtered through Champagne limestone, and made with locally produced French wheat. The company also developed its distinctive smoked glass bottle featuring French geese in flight, and delivered its product in wooden crates similar to wine. In 1998 Grey Goose was named the best-tasting vodka in the world by the Beverage Testing Institute. The company was eventually sold to Bacardi for US $2.2 billion in August 2004. That year Grey Goose was the best-selling premium brand vodka in the United States. The company sold more than 1.5 million cases that year.