Booze | March 7, 2022 1:56 pm

Stoli Group Is Rebranding Its Vodka After Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Both Stoli and Smirnoff vodkas were met with boycotts in the last week, even though neither brand is now associated with Russia

Bottles of Stolichnaya vodka, manufactured by the SPI Group seen on the store shelf in Kiev, Ukraine, in 2018.
Bottles of Stolichnaya vodka, manufactured by the SPI Group, seen on the store shelf in Kiev, Ukraine, in 2018.
Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

One of the issues with the recent boycott of Russian spirits — coming soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — is that some of the targeted brands should not have been associated with Russia.

As The Spirit Business reports, one of those affected brands is making a change. Stoli Group will no longer use the name “Stolichnaya” for its vodka. Stoli’s facilities are located in Latvia, but there may have been some confusion, as the brand was founded by Russian-born Yuri Shefler (who relocated in 2002 soon after Vladamir Putin came to power). There is also a Stolichnaya that is sold in Russia by FKP Soyuzplodoimport, but it can’t be exported to most of the world due to trademark issues. 

“I have personally experienced persecution by Putin’s regime and I share the pain of Ukraine and its people,” as Shefler noted in a statement.

“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,” says Damian McKinney, Global CEO, Stoli Group. “While we do not have any operations in Russia, we do in Ukraine and across many of the bordering countries.”

Stoli Group also announced its support for Ukraine through donations to World Central Kitchen (WCK), a non-profit organization that provides meals in response to crises. The company had earlier pledged to only use Slovakian sources for its ingredients.

As for another brand that swept up in boycotts: Smirnoff now has a “proudly made in America” banner on its home page, where the company notes that their late founder fled Russia over a century ago and that the brand is owned by the British company Diageo.