Thinking of boycotting Russian vodka? Not too many brands are actually made there.
True Russian brands are hard to find in Pennsylvania. Stoli isn't even Russian anymore.
As the world condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, politicians and consumers may be considering a boycott of Russian spirits, particularly vodka.
Such a backlash was seen in 2013, after Russia banned so-called gay propaganda.
But true Russian brands are hard to find in Pennsylvania, which happens to be one of America’s largest purchasers of wine and spirits.
Shawn Kelly, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), said two brands sold on shelves of the Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores — Russian Standard and Ustianochka, both 80-proof vodkas — are actually produced in Russia. Five special-order items, which he could not readily identify through the catalog, also are Russian.
All told, these Russian products represent a mere fraction of the PLCB’s sales — less than $1.1 million (about 0.06%) out of more than $1.7 billion of total spirit sales over the last 52 weeks, Kelly said.
A Russian name does not a Russian vodka make.
Take Stoli. Though Stolichnaya is a historically Russian brand and is made at least partly from Russian wheat, almost all of the Stoli sold in the West is made in Latvia. (The former Soviet republic also happens to be a NATO member.) It’s owned by a company in Luxembourg that is controlled by Yuri Shefler, a Russian-born billionaire who left Russia during a tiff with the Kremlin.
Kelly, of the PLCB, said the state abides by all applicable federal rules and regulations, including sanctions, if and when they are implemented. “While we are unaware of any bans on Russian imports at this time, should such a ban become part of sanctions, we would no longer purchase Russian wines and spirits,” he said in a statement.
He said the PLCB had no immediate plans to pull any product from shelves:
“Fine Wine & Good Spirits remains committed to providing a wide range of products from around the world to suit numerous consumer tastes. Understanding there are also various points of view on today’s political-economic climate, we believe that consumers and licensees should have the freedom — within the constraints of federally imposed sanctions — to make their own purchase decisions. As such, we have no immediate plans to pull any product from our shelves.”
Kelly said he was unaware of regularly stocked items made in Ukraine.