Stolichnaya Russian vodka will henceforth go by its nickname “Stoli” – which is also the name of its parent company Stoli Group – in a major rebrand in “direct response” to the situation in Ukraine. But the origins of Stolichnaya’s production might surprise you. Let’s take a look at where it is actually made.
Stolichnaya Russian vodka announces Stoli rebrand
In a PR Newsire press release dated 4 March 2022, Stoli Group announced a “major rebrand”. Its flagship brand, Stolichnaya, will cease to be known as such.
Instead, the vodka will “exclusively be sold and marketed” as Stoli.
The company cited three contributing factors behind the name change, including political differences between its founder and Vladimir Putin, and the desire to “accurately represent Stoli’s roots in Latvia”.
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“This is very personal to us,” Stoli Group global chief executive Damian McKinney added. “We have employees, partners and distributors in the region directly impacted” – i.e., Ukraine. “They are asking that we take a bold stand. This is one actionable, meaningful thing we can do.”
Read the full press release on the PR Newswire website here.
Is Stoli vodka Russian?
As mentioned, Stoli Group cited its “roots in Latvia” in its decision to rebrand Stolichnaya Russian vodka as Stoli.
Its billionaire founder Yuri Shefler commented, in the press release linked above, that he has “been exiled from Russia since 2000 due to my opposition to Putin”.
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According to Forbes, he is a Russian citizen but lives in Geneva, Switzerland; Stoli vodka has been banned in Russia ever since an ownership dispute between Shefler and Russian state-owned Sojuzplodoimport, that went to the Russian supreme court.
In its advertising, according to the New York Times, Stolichnaya has previously proclaimed itself “mother of all vodkas from the motherland of vodka” – i.e., Russia – but in 2010 it changed its labels to read simply “premium vodka”.
In 2013, following calls to boycott Stolichnaya vodka for its supposed links to the Russian state, SPI Group’s then-chief executive Val Mendeleev said “you will not hurt Russia by dumping Stoli”.
Where is Stolichnaya made?
For a time, production of Stolichnaya vodka took place in Russia, with bottling in Riga, Latvia. But, wrote the New York Times in 2013, it was later both “filtered and blended” in Latvia.
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“Yet while its water comes from Latvian springs, its main ingredient, raw alcohol distilled from grain, still comes from Russia. Its bottles are from Poland and Estonia, its caps from Italy.”
As such, Stolichnaya’s nationality “is hard to pin down”.
However, the bottles available for sale in the US, UK and elsewhere, come from a factory in Latvia’s capital, operated by Latvijas Balzams. Stolichnaya tops Latvijas Balzams’ list of brands under production. In 1938, the site was exporting Stoli vodka to 80 countries worldwide; it added 10 countries in 2007. As of 2017, it was the 11th largest taxpayer in Latvia.