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Title: Stolichnaya  
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Subject: Isidore (inventor), Postcards from the Edge (film), PepsiCo, Russian brands, Russian LGBT propaganda law
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The label on an old bottle of Stolichnaya produced for export by SPI Group which refers to the Russian origin of the distilled grain alcohol.
Type Vodka
Country of origin Moscow, Russia
Introduced 1901
Alcohol by volume 40%
Proof 80
Variants Stolichnaya elit
Stolichnaya Flavoured Premium vodka
Related products List of vodkas

Stolichnaya (Russian: Столи́чная, also known as Stoli) is a vodka made of wheat and rye grain. A well-known Soviet brand, Stolichnaya for international distribution is bottled in Latvia using Latvian water but alcohol from a distillery in Tambov by a company chartered in Luxembourg but founded by a Russian which distributes a wide variety of Russian spirits, having purchased a number of former Soviet brands and operations. Stolichnaya for Russian distribution is manufactured in Kaliningrad by a separate Russian company.[2]


Fermentation of Stolichnaya starts with wheat and rye grains and artesian water from the Russian city of Samara and the Kaliningrad region. The fermentation takes about 60 hours. Once fermentation is complete the resulting liquid is distilled four times to a strength of 96.4% ABV. This spirit is then diluted to bottling strength with more artesian well water. It is then filtered through quartz, sand, activated charcoal, and finally through woven cloth.[3]

The brand's logo features the words "Stolichnaya vodka" in gold cursive script, over a drawing of a Moscow landmark currently under re-construction, the Hotel Moskva, where Stalin once stayed and the site of one of the first Metro stations in the capital city. ("Stolichnaya" is the adjectival form of "stolitsa" ["столица"], meaning "capital city".)[4]


Stolichnaya has its origins in the Moscow State Wine Warehouse No. 1 which was opened in 1901 by the authorities to ensure higher quality vodka production.[3]

There is confusion about the actual birth date of Stolichnaya vodka. The earliest confirmed production date is 1948, but the label design clearly predates 1946.[5] It is likely that it was created by V. G. Svirida around 1944.[6] However, there is a trademark patent dated 1938, which is sometimes quoted as another birth date.[7]

In 1953, Stolichnaya was introduced at the international trade show in Bern and received a gold medal.[5]

In Russia, the product is produced in the ITAR Distillery (Kaliningrad, Russia) within the limits of granted License of the state owned FKP "SojuzplodOimport" company, also known as FKP Soyuzplodimport, Vodka produced by FKP cannot be exported outside of Russia [8] and has the distinctive "Russian Vodka" on the label.

If bought outside of Russia, the product is produced by the SPI Group and the label reads: Premium Vodka, produced and bottled in Latvia for SPI Group and is labeled as Imported Premium Vodka. Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, bottles were made in Ukraine for export.

Both companies have been in dispute over the ownership of various trademarks since 2003 [9]

International distribution

In 1972, the PepsiCo company struck a barter agreement with the government of the Soviet Union, in which PepsiCo was granted exportation and Western marketing rights to Stolichnaya vodka, in exchange for importation and Soviet marketing of Pepsi-Cola.[10] This exchange led to Pepsi-Cola being the first American consumer product to be produced, marketed and sold in the U.S.S.R.[11]

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Stolichnaya vodka continued to be produced for export in several of the ex-Soviet republics, including Ukraine.[12] The bottles retained their Soviet-era labels.

In August 1991, the Soviet patent office revoked the Soviet agency's right to use the Stolichnaya name in Russia.[13] This led to numerous lawsuits, including what companies could market vodka under this name in the United States. On November 20, 1992, a federal judge ruled that PepsiCo would maintain the exclusive right to the name in the United States, as allowing others to market under the name would bring a "risk of irreparable harm" to the trademark.[13]

Presently the internationally distributed version of Stolichnaya is bottled in Latvia by SPI Group, also known as the Spirit Group. In 2009, William Grant & Sons signed an agreement to distribute Stolichnaya in the USA, taking over from PepsiCo. The William Grant & Sons distribution contract will expire on December 31, 2013 and will not be renewed, due to SPI Group's stated desire to manage their brand directly.[14] The rights to distribute Stolichnaya branded vodka outside Russia but not covering the United States are owned by the SPI Group, controlled by Yuri Scheffler. SPI Group had a global distribution agreement with Pernod Ricard, which was canceled after Pernod Ricard bought Absolut vodka.

Since 2001, the Stolichnaya trademark has been an object of a dispute between the SPI Group and the government of Russia.[15] In 2002, a Moscow court ruled that the Government of Russia would get back the rights to the Stolichnaya brand name from SPI Group, once their licensing agreement runs out, with no automatic right of renewal.[16] SPI Group have disputed this claim and say they will retain the rights internationally.


Stoli is available in many varieties, including:[17]

  • Stolichnaya 80 proof (red label)
  • Stolichnaya 80 proof (Kristal or gold)
  • Stolichnaya 100 proof (blue label)
  • Stolichnaya Elit ("ultra-luxury")
  • Stoli Blakberi (Blackberry)
  • Stoli Blueberi (Blueberry)
  • Stoli Citros (Citrus)
  • Stoli Cranberi (Cranberry)
  • Stoli Gala Applik (Apple)
  • Stoli Ohranj (Orange)
  • Stoli Peachik (Peach; formerly named Stoli Persik)
  • Stoli Razberi (Raspberry)
  • Stoli Strasberi (Strawberry)
  • Stoli Vanil (Vanilla)
  • Stoli White Pomegranik (White Pomegranate)
  • Stoli Wild Cherri (Wild Cherry)
  • Stoli Chocolat Razberi (Chocolate and Raspberry)
  • Stoli Hot (Jalapeño)
  • Stoli Sticki (Honey)
  • Stoli Chocolat Kokonut (Chocolate and Coconut)
  • Stoli Salted Karamel (Salted Caramel)

Several of these offerings have performed well at international spirit ratings competitions. For example, the Elit label was awarded a silver medal at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.[18]


Stolichnaya's chief rival Russian Standard aroused controversy when it questioned Stolichnaya's Russian authenticity, due to the elongated distribution and ownership chain. Pernod Ricard responded by insisting that it is an authentic Russian vodka, as nothing is added or removed during the bottling.[19]

In the 1997 film The Saint starring Val Kilmer, a bottle of Stoli is visible in his room in Russia.

In Eminem's 2010 music video for "Love the Way You Lie", Stolichnaya vodka was included in several scenes. The product placement begins with actor Dominic Monaghan shoplifting a bottle of the vodka, after which he and actress Megan Fox drink from it on the roof of the liquor store.[20]

Stolichnaya also advertises heavily with digital banners behind home plate during televised New York Yankees games.[21]

In the hit United Kingdom sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, Stolichnaya vodka was constantly portrayed as Eddie and Patsy's favorite vodka.

In the musical Rent (one of the most popular and long lived musicals on Broadway) the intro to the song "Today 4 U" includes the lyrics "This boy could use some Stoli" in reference to the Bohemian's Christmas feast, consisting of Bustelo coffee, Marlboro cigarettes, bananas, Cap'n Crunch, firewood and a bottle of Stoli.

Roger Sterling, a main character in the American television series Mad Men, is also a fan of Stolichnaya, keeping a bottle in his office at all times.[22] This habit appears to be either specially facilitated or anachronistic, however, since the series takes place in New York City the 1960s, roughly a decade before the vodka gained its first official US distribution through PepsiCo (see above).[23]


In July 2013, columnist Dan Savage joined gay bars and clubs and called for a boycott of Stolichnaya and other Russian vodkas. The boycott is in response to anti-gay laws enacted by the Russian government.[24][25]

In response, Stolichnaya released a statement expressing their opposition to Russia's anti-gay policies, stating that, "Stolichnaya Vodka has always been, and continues to be, a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community."[26][27]

SPI have released additional statements "announced that in response to the boycott the company would be making a financial donation to an unspecified group working on behalf of Russian LGBT activists fighting against the Russian government’s anti-gay policies."[28] The CEO of the company also insisted that the company is "not a Russian company", even though "the company operates a distillery in Russia, that several hundred of its 2,500 employees are in Russia and that it obtains its ingredients from Russia."[28]


  1. ^ "Stolichnaya®". SPI Group. Retrieved 5 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Andrew Higgins (September 7, 2013). "Facing Fury Over Antigay Law, Stoli Says ‘Russian? Not Really’". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Stolichnaya Vodka". Wine and Alcohol. 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  4. ^ William Grimes (1991-06-02). "Summer Places: The Super Vodkas".  
  5. ^ a b Владимир Ульянов (2008-05-27). "Водка Stolichnaya: как все начиналось". PopSop. 
  6. ^ Ольга Деркач (2004-00-00). """Водка "Столичная. Огонек. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  7. ^ "Водка "Столичная"". СоюзПлодИмпорт. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Robert Laing (2006-03-28). "Pepsi's comeback, Part II".  
  11. ^ "PepsiCo Company History (1972)". PepsiCo, Inc. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  12. ^ Jane Perlez (1991-01-27). "A Mean Political Hangover for Seagram in Ukraine". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  13. ^ a b "Company News; Judge Rejects Stolichnaya Trademark Suit". The New York Times. 1992-11-20. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  14. ^ SPI Group and William Grant & Sons Agree to Not Renew Contract for Stolichnaya Retrieved July 25, 2013
  15. ^ Abigail Townsend (2004-11-21). "Who's Stoli now? Allied Domecq in Russian dispute".  
  16. ^ "Russia toasts Stolichnaya victory".  
  17. ^ "Stoli Razberi Hits One-Million-Case Milestone". 2004-08-31. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  18. ^ " Summary Ratings Page for Stoli Elit". Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  19. ^ A new brand of Russian mogul Vanity Fair
  20. ^ "Love The Way You Lie (With Me)". Retrieved August 30, 2010. 
  21. ^ "Stoli SMS". p. 1. 
  22. ^ "Secret Product Placements of Mad Men". Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Mad Men goof". Retrieved July 24, 2014. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Abad-Santos, Alexander (25 July 2013). "Here's Why Gay Men Are Dumping Russian Vodka".  
  26. ^ Self, Wayne (2013-07-26). "Of Savage and Stoli: Should We Boycott?". Huffington Post. 
  27. ^ Dill, Kathryn. Forbes http://www.forbes.coms/kathryndill/2013/07/30/stolichnaya-responds-we-have-no-influence-over-russias-government/ . 
  28. ^ a b Signorile, Michelangelo (2013-07-31). "Stoli CEO Speaks Out On How Company Will Respond To Vodka Boycott". Huffington Post. 

External links

  • Official website SPI produced Stoli
  • Official Website state owned FKP "SojuzplodOimport"
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