When Russians stop drinking, vodka sales plunge
Stricter rules, economic problems and changing social habits mean that Russians are consuming less alcohol, and that’s sobering news for the global vodka industry
In good news for Russian life expectancy but sobering news for vodka distilleries, the largest country in the world is turning away from alcohol.
Alcohol consumption in Russia, which is believed to have fallen into economic recession, dropped by 6.3pc in 2014 amid ongoing political tension, the collapse in oil prices and a government crackdown on drinking.
Russians drank 12pc less vodka last year, according to data from Euromonitor International, dragging down global sales of the clear spirit by 5pc, its biggest slump in at least five years.
“Geographic diversification – or lack thereof – remains one of the defining factors determining top line success or failure,” said Spiros Malandrakis, Euromonitor’s senior alcoholic drinks analyst. “Vodka suffered disproportionately due to its over reliance on a single market.”
Russia is the largest vodka market in the world, guzzling 1bn litres in 2014, almost a third of global consumption. It is considerably larger than the next biggest market, the US, which consumes 645m litres of vodka. Vodka’s exposure to Poland and Ukraine, which together account for 15pc of global consumption, also weighed on global sales, slumping by 6.5pc and 10.7pc respectively.
The team behind NB Gin have launched what they believe is the world’s first “London Dry” citrus vodka
NB Distillery in North Berwick, East Lothian, brings citrus notes to the vodka through using botanicals in the distillation, in the style of making gin, rather than by adding flavouring.
Diluted down to 40% ABV, it is distilled with lemon, coriander seed and cassia bark, using the same process as NB Gin – a London Dry gin – which was launched by owners Steve and Vivienne Muir in October 2013.
NB London Dry Citrus Vodka was created after the distiller experimented with different groupings of botanicals while making NB Gin. One of these distillates was a citrus run, and the Muirs were hugely impressed with the smooth, subtle and long citrus flavour that was created.
It took another 18 months, hundreds of samples and countless tasting committee sessions to come up with the final version of the new spirit. Vivienne said: “Like our gin, we’ve not compromised on quality, using only British pure grain spirit and the best botanicals we can find.
“What we’ve produced is totally new and we think that it will throw a curveball into the vodka market in terms of its uniqueness.
“There are no gimmicks or strange quirks involved. The innovation lies within its extremely stringent production method, which has allowed us to create something very classic, very natural, and of the highest possible quality, following the London Dry process to the letter.
“There are no additives or sweeteners in our London Dry vodka. And it’s very versatile, so it’s delicious on its own but is also an excellent base for cocktails.”
As part of their final tasting committee, Steve and Vivienne again engaged the expert services of world-leading distiller Charles Maxwell at Thames Distillers in London. He said: “This is an exceptionally well-balanced vodka with lovely subtle citrus notes. I’m not aware of anyone else producing citrus vodka though the London Dry process. Quite an achievement.”
The vodka has a subtle citrus nose with an initial hit of citrus on tasting, with a smooth texture filling the mouth. A distinct lemon taste is then followed by distinct orange, with a final long and well-balanced citrus taste to finish.
They opted to stick to the London Dry process for the vodka despite its challenges. Steve said: “It’s immensely difficult to control with a vast number of variables, including temperature and run time, which can change the outcome. It is only this method which allows us to create the most subtle of variations to flavour and our smooth and distinctive long taste.”
The inaugural batch of 300 bottles of the new London Dry Citrus Vodka was snapped up by Lockett Brothers in the spirit’s home town of North Berwick and went on sale at the end of May. More batches and wider distribution will follow.
By bar team on
Landlady fined thousands over potentially dangerous vodka
A city centre landlady who had ‘potentially dangerous’ counterfeit vodka has been fined thousands of pounds.
Lorraine Griffiths, 39, bought more than 450 litres of the spirit from a Chinese man she knew only as Mr Allan, handing over £6,500, Sunderland Magistrates Court heard.
While the majority of the vodka was European stock with fake labels, other bottles contained counterfeit vodka with potentially dangerous sediment.
The vodka – branded Smirnoff and Glen’s – was found by officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), during a visit to Ttonic in Vine Place last June.
The mum-of-three, who is a 100 per cent shareholder in Ttonic owner Rubix Management Ltd, said she had no invoices or receipts, nor any contact details for the mysterious salesman.
She appeared alongside her husband Tony Griffiths, who was in court on behalf of the corporate entity of Rubix, in his capacity as director. Read more…