Stoli & The Russian Vodka Boycott against the Russian Regime

Stoli Group Denounces Russian Aggression

Source: Res Publica

February 27, 2022

Stoli Group has had a long history of fighting oppression from the Russian regime. We unequivocally condemn the military action in Ukraine and stand in support of the Ukrainian people.

“The safety and security of our Ukrainian team is our top priority. We are monitoring the situation closely and are already moving swiftly and decisively to provide support where needed, both to our people on the ground as well as partners,” noted Damian McKinney, Global CEO, Stoli Group. “While we do not have any operations in Russia, we do in Ukraine and across many of the boarding countries.”

The Stoli vodka brands and its owner Yuri Shefler were exiled from Russia nearly two decades ago. “As the Founder of SPI Group of companies, I have personally experienced persecution by the Russian authorities and I share the pain of Ukraine and its people,” noted Mr. Shefler.

Stoli Premium and Elit™ vodka are manufactured and bottled in Riga, Latvia. The brand is registered with the US TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) as a Latvian product.

“We are inspired by the Russian people who have taken to the streets calling for an end to this attack on a sovereign nation. For decades, Stoli Group has supported the marginalized and those at risk of unwarranted aggression. We stand now with all Ukrainians and Russians calling for peace,” said McKinney.

#LiberateUkraine |

States want to boycott Russian vodka. Here’s why that won’t work


February 27, 2022

Russian-made alcohol is the latest target in the growing backlash against the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

So far, officials in Ohio, Utah and New Hampshire have called on liquor stores to remove Russian-made or Russian-branded products from shelves, a move that largely targets vodka since it’s most closely associated with the country.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox requested on Saturday that state-run liquor outlets “remove all Russian-produced and Russian-branded products,” explaining that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an “egregious violation of human rights.”

New Hampshire’s Gov. Chris Sununu made a similar announcement, also asking for the removal of “Russian-made and Russian-branded spirits.”

These moves are largely symbolic – and may even miss their intended target – as very few brands imported to the United States still produce the liquor in Russia.

Many of the top-selling vodka brands that trace their origins to Russia are now distilled in multiple countries – including the United States.

For example, some bar owners are protesting the invasion by dumping out Stoli Vodka. Problem is, it’s only Russian by name, which is loosely translated as “capital city” due to its origins in Moscow. The vodka is actually made in Latvia, and the company’s headquarters is in Luxembourg – a member of NATO which has spoken against the Russian invasion.

Russian Standard is one of the few vodka brands that is actually Russian.

In a statement to CNN Business, Stoli Group said it “unequivocally condemns the military action in Ukraine and stands ready to support the Ukrainian people, our teams and partners.”

“For decades, Stoli Group has supported the marginalized and those at risk of unwarranted aggression. We stand now with all Ukrainians and Russians calling for peace,” a company spokesperson said.

Smirnoff is another brand being confused as being Russian. Although it traces its heritage to 19th century Russia, the company has long been owned by British spirits giant Diageo (DEO) and is manufactured in Illinois.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was more targeted with his announcement. On Saturday, he asked the state’s nearly 500 liquor stores to “cease both the purchase and sale of all vodka made by Russian Standard, the only overseas, Russian-owned distillery with vodka sold in Ohio.”

Russian Standard, along with lesser-known vodka Green Mark, are one of the few alcohol brands imported from Russia and sold in the United States. It’s parent company, Roust International, is owned by Roustam Tariko, a Russian oligarch who also owns Russian Standard Bank. The alcohol company didn’t immediately respond to CNN Business’ request for comment.

These boycotts are largely symbolic because Russian-made vodka accounts for a very small percentage of the roughly $7 billion in annual vodka sales, according to the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), a national trade organization that represents spirits makers.

Less than 1% of vodka consumed in the United States is produced in Russia. In fact, more than half of all vodka consumed domestically is actually made here, according to data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, a global firm that tracks alcohol sales.

Vodka imported from Russia has been on the decline for several years, and is down 79% since 2011, DISCUS said.


Which vodka brands are from Russia? Which stores banned Russian vodka brands?


February 28, 2022

A boycott of Russian vodka brands. That’s one, small, response to Russia’s unprovoked, deadly invasion of Ukraine. And it’s being implemented in bars and liquor stores across the United States, with owners and managers taking the step, along with drinkers who are deciding to choose a different tipple.

New Hampshire boycotts Russian vodka

Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire took a further step Saturday, signing an executive order mandating the state’s liquor stores to take Russian made and Russian branded vodkas off their shelves.

In New Hampshire liquor and wine are sold through state-run stores, making the boycott easier to put into place.

Across the US other law makers are pushing for similar measures.

In Ohio, too, the state gives licenses to private stores to sell liquor – there Gov. Mike DeWine said the state would stop the sale of Russian Standard Vodka.

In states where private companies control their own decisions on which liquor to sell or not it will be down to individual stores and chains. There have been multiple reports of bar owners pouring Russian vodka away in protest.

Main Russian vodka brands

Some of the main brands that could be hit by the boycott include Russian Standard and Russian Standard Gold, along with Siberian brand Husky Vodka and the traditional Polugar Classic Rye Vodka. Ustianochka and Beluga Noble Russian Vodka are other Russian produced vodka brands in line to be hit.

Stoli protest over boycott

One brand in the US that’s upset at being linked with Russia is Stolichnaya vodka. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the ownership of the brand has been disputed between a Russian state-owned company and SPI Group, a private company.

The Stolichnaya sold in the US is made by the latter company, which distills it in Lativa (though it does use alcohol from a distillery in Russia).

Damian McKinney, Stoli Group global CEO said about Stoli’s origins: “With regard to us being Russian. We are absolutely NOT a Russian company, we are a global organization with a significant portfolio of spirits and wine brands from around the world.”

On their website the Stoli Group has now placed a large banner in support of Ukraine.


Putin’s critics call for boycotts of Russian vodka


February 28, 2022

Vodka, a drink that was popularized in the West by James Bond and that has long been one of Russia’s most visible exports, is now the target of international anger over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In New Hampshire, where liquor and wine are sold through state-run stores, Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, announced on Saturday the removal of “Russian-made and Russian-branded spirits from our liquor and wine outlets until further notice.” In Ohio, where the state contracts with private businesses to sell liquor, Gov. Mike DeWine, also a Republican, announced a halt to state purchases and sales of Russian Standard Vodka.

L. Louise Lucas, a top Democrat in the Virginia State Senate, is calling for “the removal of all Russian vodka and any other Russian products” from Virginia’s nearly 400 state-run Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority stores.

And Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, wrote on Twitter, “Dump all the Russian vodka and, alongside ammo and missiles, send the empty bottles to Ukraine to use for Molotov cocktails.”

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Canada’s most populated province, announced on Friday that it would remove “all products produced in Russia” from its more than 600 stores. Similar removals were underway in the provinces of Manitoba and Newfoundland, Reuters reported.

Boycotts of highly visible imports during times of conflict are nothing new.

In 2003, for example, France’s opposition to the United States-led military action in Iraq led some American politicians to boycott French wine and try to rename French fries as “freedom fries” (even though the dish probably originated in Belgium).

And just as in earlier efforts, boycotting Russian vodka may be more symbolic than strategic.

Vodka has a long history in Russian culture, with The Times once describing it as “an inseparable part of Russian social life.” Colorless and odorless, it can be combined with countless types of mixers to make a wide array of concoctions. That versatility helped it take hold in the United States market, leading to a fierce competition among vodka makers from various countries.

But while 76.9 million nine-liter cases of vodka were sold in the United States in 2020 – generating nearly $7 billion in revenue for distillers, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, an industry trade group – Russia’s share of the market isn’t as large as popular imagination may suggest.

Russia accounted for a little more than 1 percent of the dollar amount of vodka imported into the U.S. in 2017, Thrillist reported, citing data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

France – whose vodkas include Grey Goose, Cîroc, Gallant and MontBlanc – accounted for about 39 percent of total vodka import value, the most of any country, Thrillist reported. Sweden, with vodkas like Absolut and DQ, accounted for about 18 percent. The other top importers were the Netherlands (17 percent), Latvia (10 percent), Britain (5 percent) and Poland (5 percent).

In Pennsylvania, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Saturday, “true Russian brands are hard to find.”