Stolichnaya vodka is rebranding to just “Stoli” to distance itself from the Russian hordes invading Ukraine, the spirit-maker has announced.
Although Stoli is the name many Americans have always used to request the beloved adult libation, Stoli Group is officially dropping the chnaya to reflect “the founder’s vehement position on the Putin regime” as well as its employees’ “determination to take action.” The company also hopes the name change will “accurately represent Stoli’s roots in Latvia,” it said in a statement on Friday.
In the statement, Russian-born Stoli Group founder Yuri Shefler said he was exiled from Russia in 2000 for his opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Today, we have made the decision to rebrand entirely as the name no longer represents our organization. More than anything, I wish for ‘Stoli’ to represent peace in Europe and solidarity with Ukraine,” Shefler said.
Although Stoli has been produced in Latvia since 2000, the company sought to make that abundantly clear last week when reports began surfacing that drinkers and merchants were fixing to ban what they believed to be Russian vodkas in the U.S. and around the world. Vodka is the top-selling spirit in the U.S., bringing in $7.3 billion a year in revenue, so that’s a lot of liquor some people are mistakingly pouring down the drain.
“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,” Shefler said in an earlier statement when stores began removing his spirit from shelves.
However, as DistilleryTrail points out, Russia accounts for just 1.7 percent of all vodka imported to the U.S., according to data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. To ensure that not even Russian ingredients end up in Stoli, the company also says it will “engage exclusively with Slovakian sources to further ensure 100% non-Russian alpha grade spirit.”
Smirnoff brand vodka is also suffering from misdirected anti-Russian sentiment. Although its roots date back to 19th century Russia—and although it shares its name with the greatest of all Russian exports—CNN notes that Smirnoff is actually owned by British spirits corporation Diageo and is produced in Illinois.
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