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  • Writer's pictureDavid Baker

Stolichnaya vodka rebrands as Stoli in face of unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine

As criticism of the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine mounts, familiar brands like Stolichnaya face tarnishment by association and the popular vodka make has already decided that enough is enough. It is rebranding the vodka to Stoli.

The founders have taken a "vehement position" against the Putin regime and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As such, the vodka, famously marketed as Russian, will now be sold and marketed as Stoli.

Stoli Group's founder, Russian-born billionaire Yuri Shefler, was exiled from Russia in 2000 because of his opposition to Putin. The liquor has long been marketed as Russian vodka, but its production facilities have been in Latvia since that year. Stoli Group is a unit of Luxembourg-based SPI Group.

Stoli Group has also announced it would only use Slovakian sources to make sure that none of its ingredients are sourced from Russia and cited its employees' desire to take action and to accurately represent the vodka's Latvian roots as an impetus for the decision.

WHY IT MATTERS. Not unlike the famous episode of American restaurants ‘rebranding’ French fries as ‘Freedom fries’ when in 2003 France refused to allow the use of French air space by Allied bombers in the then-impending war against Iraq, many states have called on liquor stores to remove Russian-made or Russian-branded products from their shelves -- which in most cases, means vodka. Some bar owners have even swapped out Moscow Mules for Kyiv Mules.

However, these boycotts and protests are mostly symbolic and unlikely to have much impact on Russia or Russian companies. Russian-made vodka accounts for less than 1% of the roughly $7 billion in annual vodka sales, according to the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), a national trade organization that represents spirits makers.

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