William Grant & Sons UK has announced that Russian Standard Vodka will be joining its premium spirits portfolio on 1st January 2016.
Russian Standard Vodka is part of Roust International which represents the William Grant & Sons portfolio in Poland/Central Europe. In the UK, William Grant & Sons UK has represented Roust’s Green Mark and Żubrówka for over two years, and the move represents a consolidation of the full Roust portfolio in the UK market.
This agreement is a continuation of the international alliance between two of the world’s leading spirits businesses.
Russian Standard Vodka is the number one premium vodka in Russia and has grown to a c1 million 9L case brand in the UK and a 12% share of the vodka market since its UK launch in 2007.
Chris Mason, Managing Director, William Grant & Sons UK, comments: “Roust is one of the world’s leading vodka producers and we look forward to continuing a successful partnership to achieve our ambitious goals. Russian Standard Vodka is an excellent fit within our existing premium portfolio, complementing our current brands.
“This partnership will ensure that William Grant & Sons UK has the strongest vodka portfolio offering with authentic brands that are differentiated within the category including: Russian Standard Vodka, Green Mark and Żubrówka.”
Vodka is the largest spirits category in the UK, where there are 12.2 million vodka drinkers and one in three sprits bought in the on or off trade is vodka.
Roust Chairman & Owner Roustam Tariko comments: “Roust is delighted to consolidate our vodka portfolio in the UK with William Grant & Sons UK; we look forward to the continued rapid growth of Russian Standard vodka and our wider vodka portfolio here in the UK under the stewardship of the William Grants & Sons UK team. We believe our powerful brands in conjunction with William Grant & Sons’ own strong portfolio of brands will deliver accelerated volume and market share growth in the UK.”
William Grant & Sons UK will be representing Russian Standard Vodka starting from the 1st January 2016.
Vodka as a category is huge, and has been for many a decade now. There are many brands you rattle off when one talks about vodka; Smirnoff, Grey Goose, Belvedere and Russian Standard are present in many a list, and it’s the Russian liquid that this feature will concentrate on, looking at why it is seen as one of the well-known in its category, and some of the expressions that are sometimes easily looked over.
It begins with a gentleman named Roustam Tariko, a Russian born in Menzelinsk in Tatarstan back in 1962. In the 1980’s, he saw the potential for new businesses in Russia after the economic reforms and started the likes of a cleaning company and then the importing of Kinder Surprise and Ferrero Rocher chocolates (goods that were previously only available within hard currency stores closed to the average Russian). Tariko parlayed his success in selling Italian chocolates into an exclusive contract to import the Martini brand. Record sales of Martini enabled him to grow his company Roust Inc. into the leading importer of premium spirits in Russia. It’s here when he realised that Russia did not possess a domestically produced premium vodka brand, so in 1998, Tariko, through his Russian Standard Company, brought to market Russian Standard Vodka Original, the first genuinely Russian premium vodka.
Roustam Tariko also used the influence of Professor Dmitri Mendeleev, the inventor of the periodic table and alumni of the St. Petersburg State University. What was considered the standard for vodka making, Tariko invited some of the modern-day graduates to work at the Russian Standard Vodka distillery and impart their wisdom on the likes of the analysis of the natural water, to gas chromatography which measures the cleanliness of the vodka itself. Because of this, they are at the fore-front and developing new techniques in vodka chemistry, a unique business model that only Russian Standard apply.
So how is it all created?
Within their St Petersburg distillery, a proprietary distillation has been developed which means it retains the natural character of the spirit, yet filters out the impurities. The winter wheat spirit from the Russian Steppes passes through over 200 distillation stages, all controlled at every stage. It is then filtered through Russian birch charcoal filters and a Urals Mountains quartz crystal filtration process, as well as silver to further refine the vodka if creating the Platinum expression. The vodka then passes through a final and unique process called relaxation, where the liquid matures and the ingredients ‘marry’ each other to result in a perfect balance, smoothness and ‘final development of organoleptic properties’. The relaxation process is said to be critical to the final product as it is where the super molecular structure is built. The water used within the processes is pure glacial water from Lake Ladoga. Once bottled, every bottle is sealed with a Certificate of Origin – a guarantee issued by the Russian government that the vodka is 100% Russian.
So how do the four expressions fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Russian Standard Original– 40%
Bold notes of the winter wheat come through on the nose, with a thick aroma of coarse earth placed nicely for the base. A sharp kick of wheat upon the palate, with a good dose of dry spice, vegetal and earthy notes coming through. A lively dryness forms near the spicy, long finish. Slight creamy notes comes through too.
Russian Standard Gold – 40%
Russian Standard Gold is inspired from an ancient Siberian vodka recipe made popular by Peter the Great and has extracts of Siberian Golden Root.
Soft ginseng on the nose with a subtle aroma of the wheat coming through. Very soft upon the palate, with a slight developing richness of the root bringing a bold finish. Natural sweetness is present, with a sugar beet style texture. A good lingering finish.
Russian Standard Platinum – 40%
Silver filtered for extra clarity. Clean on the nose with a slight soft sweetness and citrus element present. Very soft on the palate with the powdered citrus blending well with the smooth texture of the winter wheat. A slight kick of pepper near the lingering finish.
Imperia – 40%
Produced by the world’s most advanced distillation process (eight times) and layer-filtered through quartz crystal from the Ural Mountains, Imperia is allowed to rest in relaxation tanks for 72 hours before bottling.
Slight herbal notes on the nose surround the clean, thin scent of the spirit. A crisp start to the palate, with a creamy, thick texture developing with hints of citrus and herbal sweets. An aromatic hit near the finish that lingers perfectly.
Four very different styles of vodka here, with the Original perfect for one of these –
50 ml Russian Standard Original
150 ml Premium Ginger Beer (or Ale)
Fill a copper mug with ice cubes. Squeeze in half of one lime. Add 50 ml of Russian Standard Original and the Ginger beer to fill. Garnish with a wedge of lime.
Russian Standard hits the mark across the board, with a good entry-level and cocktail base with the Original, to the vodka sippers in Gold and Platinum, to the prestige Imperia. At least two should be in your drinks cabinet at home to really impress your friends and family, or visit your local bar and see what the bartenders are mixing up for you. This is a classic Russian vodka, which some would say is a classic vodka in its own right. Grab a taste and join in.
RUSSIAN STANDARD VODKA OFFERS SAINSBURY’S CUSTOMERS A FREE RUSSIAN MULE COPPER MUG WITH EVERY PURCHASE
OFFER AVAILABLE THROUGH PARTICIPATING SAINSBURY’S STORES. ONE MUG PER CUSTOMER PURCHASING A 70CL BOTTLE OF RUSSIAN STANDARD ORIGINAL
Launching today, Russian Standard Vodka will be offering customers the opportunity to claim a free Russian Mule copper mug when purchasing a 70cl bottle of Russian Standard Original*. The offer is available to customers of participating Sainsbury’s stores across the UK* and runs until 23 July 2013. More information on Russian Standard Vodka’s Sainsbury’s promotion is available on the official Russian Standard Facebook page.
Breaking the mould of traditional promotional products, Russian Standard Vodka’s copper mugs are heavy weight drinking vessels that feature a copper-plated exterior and stainless steel interior. This robust design and premium quality is synonymous with Russian Standard and means that customers’ Russian Mule cocktails stay colder for much longer. The mugs have become a highly sought after product amongst celebrities and socialites and are rarely made available to the general public on such a broad basis.
The Russian Standard copper mugs recently made the headlines when they featured at Sam and Isabella Branson’s wedding party, which was attended by UK and international friends and family. Russian Standard Vodka provided over 400 copper mugs as gifts to the party with not a single one being left behind.
* Offer is for one copper mug per purchase, while stocks last.
* Offer not available in Scotland
If you’ve ever ventured into the Spinningfield’s area of Manchester you’ll notice many a bar and restaurant serving businessmen, ladies who lunch or myself propping the bar up as I dive through the drinks menu. One such time happened last week, at a rather well-known yet unknown venue named Australasia. I say unknown due to its rather unique entrance – a triangle shard of glass sticking out of the ground with a door leading to a staircase. I remember I use to pass without realising it was there, and bewildered when it first opened of where this place was. Now I’m familiar, and after a chance meeting with the venues new BDM Gill Andrews and Bar Manager Jenny (of the Hilton’s Cloud 23 fame), I can report back to you all with wonderful memories.
As mentioned, I’ve been here before and have always kicked myself for not coming back many a time since, but with whispers of their new cocktail menu arriving shortly, coupled with food and wine menu revamp too, Australasia is breathing new life into their underground den. The drinks menu itself is simple, no descriptions, just names only. Daring but it works because the bartenders have to work to sell you a drink. You feel looked after knowing that the gentleman or lady behind the bar actually knows their stuff, the ingredients within and why you will love each and every one of them.
Oh, and also how to make them consistent.
For example, the Smokey Old Fashioned. A base of Woodford Reserve coupled with maple syrup and bitters over an ice ball. Smoke, courtesy of oak chips via a chemical flask, adds the sense of magic to the drink, as well as aromas which linger even when the smoke has cleared. Fantastic, and I’ve only ever had them from their fellow Alchemist. Consistency really is the key for these kind of places.
A couple of other new delights to wet your appetite over the next few months include Bushfire and Alice Spring Punch. Bushfire has the combination of Grey Goose Citroen, Benedictine, fresh grapefruit, lemon juice and sugar syrup with a good sprig of thyme soaked in Sunset Very Strong Rum and lit. Slightly sour for my liking as I’m a man with a sweet tooth, but the freshness made this a winner for me. The herbal Benedictine and grapefruit mix well with the citrus flavours, and the hint of the Sunset rum gives it a slight kick if sipped. Alice Spring Punch blended Russian Standard vodka with lychee purée Briottet lychee liqueur, Monin Hibiscus, fresh lemon and topped with Australian ‘Champagne’. A lovely tangy hit from the Australasian ‘Champagne’, with the hibiscus and lemon punching well against the double dose of lychee and vodka. Fantastic lingering sweetness too.
The highlight of my visit for me personally came in the form of a short drink named Round The Twist. Using Russian Standard vodka, stem ginger purée fresh lychee, lime juice and velvet falernum, it created a well-balanced, mouth-watering drink that offered freshness with a lingering velvet and lychee flavour.
So the above gives a good idea of what to expect from the Australasia team, but of course some of the staples have been kept including the Pineapple and Jasmin Daiquiri, Ladyboy Martini and The Australian Porn Star (£7.95 each). Coupled with a menu that includes wine, both Champagne and sparkling wines from Australia, New Zealand and England and a good offering of seven Sake to go with your oysters, sushi and tempura delights, Australasia really does cover all the basis that you expect.
As mentioned, new menus are coming out, I’d book yourself in before you miss them.