Stoli Group is rebranding their vodka — which isn’t made or sold in Russia — to point out support for Ukraine.
When Russia invaded Ukraine last month, people across the world reacted with immediate condemnation of the attack. Those with the available resources — like José Andrés and World Central Kitchen — quickly mobilized to assist those displaced by the war. Meanwhile, others showed their disapproval in additional indirect ways: as an example , many nations , bar owners, and drinkers began boycotting Russian vodkas.
But even these latter gestures haven’t gone unnoticed, and now, one among the world’s most iconic vodka brands are going to be officially changing its name (outside of Russia, at least). Stolichnaya Vodka — the version produced by the Stoli Group — will now simply be called Stoli Vodka.
Stoli Group wrote that this rebrand ending its use of the complete Stolichnaya name came as a “direct response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” with three factors playing into the decision: “the founder’s vehement position on the Putin regime; the Stoli employees determination to require action; and therefore the desire to accurately represent Stoli’s roots in Latvia.”
On that final point, Stolichnaya’s modern history are often a touch confusing. The dissolution of the Soviet Union began a still-ongoing debate over whether Stolichnaya remains a Russian state-owned brand or if it became a personal entity — and each side make a version of the vodka. In Russia, Stolichnaya Vodka is state-owned which “Stoli” will keep the complete name. except for most of the remainder of the planet , the us included, Stolichnaya Vodka is produced in Latvia by the Luxembourg-based Stoli Group, controlled by the exiled Russian billionaire Yuri Shefler.
And so to further differentiate this non-Russian-produced Stolichnaya from its Russian counterpart, Shefler announced late on Friday that his company would be ditching the “-chnaya” from its signature vodka’s name.
“While I even have been exiled from Russia since 2000 thanks to my opposition to Putin, I even have remained pleased with the Stolichnaya brand,” Shefler said within the announcement. “We have made the choice to rebrand entirely because the name not represents our organization. quite anything, I wish for ‘Stoli’ to represent peace in Europe and solidarity with Ukraine.”
Shefler likely has another motive as well: Since many of these opposing the war didn’t understand the subtleties of the multiple owners of the Stolichnaya brand, many people might be seen dumping out bottles of the Shefler-produced Stoli — a move that would hurt his pockets while having no real impact on Russia. And Stoli Group features a number of business interests within the U.S. to guard .
But Damian McKinney, global CEO of Stoli Group, reinforced that this was about quite just money. “This is extremely personal to us. As a former Royal Marine Commando, i do know only too well the horrors of war,” he stated. “We have employees, partners and distributors within the region directly impacted. they’re asking that we take a bold stand. this is often one actionable, meaningful thing we will do to form it clear that we support Ukraine.”
The day before the rebrand announcement, Stoli Group also announced that they might be working to support World Central Kitchen’s aforementioned efforts to assist those suffering from the conflict.
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