Stolichnaya® Sets the Standard for Vodka Production and for OU Kosher Certification

Think of Russia and what comes to mind? The huge size of the country, the vast steppes, Moscow and St. Petersburg, freezing winters – and of course, vodka. Stolichnaya® has established itself as the most trusted name in vodka, guaranteeing Russian authenticity and quality in each bottle. Decades after the brand’s birth, Stoli® remains the best selling Russian vodka in the United States, valued because it is produced to the highest standards of Russian vodka production.

It is also the first major vodka brand to be certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, a milestone that occurred in 1996.

Stolichnaya® (meaning “capital city” ) was widely available in Russia for common citizens and became known as the “People’s Vodka”— made by the people of Russia for the people of Russia. It was synonymous to Russians for smooth tasting vodka. In the 1940’s, it was adopted by the Kremlin elite as the vodka of choice not only for state parties, but as their personal drink. In the historic barter agreement of 1972 between the Soviet Government and the Pepsi Company, known as the “Pepski Deal,” Stolichnaya was introduced as the world’s first premium vodka. Since then, it has become a staple ingredient for cocktails worldwide.

Stoli® is now produced in the Russian town of Tambov, which is approximately 600 kilometers south of Moscow. The people of Tambov have a history and a tradition of vodka making that goes back centuries, which makes Tambov the perfect place to produce Stolichnaya. The region surrounding Tambov is known as the Black Earth Region, because of its rich, deep, black, fertile soil.

A key point of difference between Stolichnaya and other vodkas is that Stoli controls one hundred percent of its production, from grain-to-glass. Stolichnaya owns thousands of acres of Black Earth used for the production of its grain, therefore controlling every aspect of making vodka — from the selection of the grain, to planting, harvesting, distillation, water management, and bottling. This vertical control is unique in the vodka industry and guarantees the consistency in quality in each and every bottle produced.

Stolichnaya is made to the highest standards of Russian vodka production as established by the world-renowned scientist Dimitri Mendelev in 1894. The fermentation process starts with hand-selected Russian wheat and rye. It is then distilled four times through a four-column still ending up with spirit that is 96.4 percent proof. Using water from Stolichnaya’s own artesian wells, the spirit is reduced to the standard 80 percent proof, or 40 ABV (alcohol by volume). The vodka then undergoes a quadruple filtration process. It travels through quartz, charcoal, quartz again and finally through a fine mesh cloth. The end result is “the classic” Russian vodka with its spicy, smooth taste, perfect for use as the base for any mixed cocktail or straight up as a martini.

Stolichnaya has been a leader in the vodka category for years. Not only was it the first premium vodka imported into the United States, it was also the brand that created flavored vodka. The origin of flavored vodkas goes back centuries to the beginning of vodka production. In the beginning, flavorings were used to mask the harshness of vodkas that were produced back then. Over time, it became quite fashionable for Russian nobles to produce signature flavored vodkas to be used for parties and dinners.

But the real innovator for the modern day flavored vodka was Stolichnaya. It all started with Nikita Khrushchev, premier of the Soviet Union between 1956-1964. He was also a great lover of flavored vodkas. Premier Khrushchev commissioned Stolichnaya to produce two flavored vodkas — a pepper (Pertsovka) flavored vodka and an herb (Ochotnichaya) flavored vodka — which found their way into the U.S. market. But it was the introduction of Limonaya in 1986 that started the flavored vodka craze. In 1996, the year OU certification was achieved, Stoli® expanded its flavor portfolio further, releasing six new flavors into global markets.

In the past decade, this portfolio has grown and currently offers eight distinctly naturally-flavored vodkas: Stoli Razberi®, Stoli Oranj®, Stoli Vanil®, Stoli Peachik™, Stoli Cranberi®, Stoli Citros®, Stoli Strasberi®, and as of May 2006, Stoli Blueberi®.

Stoli® adds natural flavor essences prior to produce its award-winning taste. The vodka is blended with each natural flavor to achieve its distinctiveness. Although these flavored vodkas add flair and style to any mixed drink, they are best served ice cold and are smooth enough to drink on their own.

Stolichnaya Elit is the newest innovation. It was introduced into the U.S. market in 2004 and has consistently won the highest award ever for a vodka. It is regarded as the most elegant and luxurious vodka in the world. The key is the patented “freeze filtration process.” The process is highly technical and quite complicated. Using only the highest grade spirit, called “alpha,” it is reduced to 80 proof and then quadruple filtered. It is then reduced in temperature to -25 degrees F to increase its viscosity, then passed through a Z Carbon filter with positively charged ion plates. This process changes the molecular structure of the vodka. It is then allowed to rest and stabilize for two to three days, then is hand filled in one of the most elegant bottles ever produced for a vodka. Sumptuous and velvety in the mouth, Elit’s character unfolds and its smooth taste is revealed. With its luxurious presence and unique production, Elit is intended for only the most discerning vodka connoisseur.

As noted, Stolichnaya has enjoyed OU certification for quite some time. “Stolichnaya’s officials continue to be committed to meeting the Orthodox Union’s highest standards,” notes Rabbi Eliyahu Safran, Stoli’s OU rabbinic coordinator. “The exemplary care and concern for kosher demonstrated by Stoli is consistently communicated by OU RFRs visiting the vodka plants.”

Stolichnaya is the genuine authentic vodka from Russia where Jewish and kosher traditions are strong. OU certification testifies to the purity of our ingredients. It is important to Stolichnaya to stay true to its history and to its roots by maintaining OU certification so that all consumers who would like to enjoy Stoli will be able to do so.

OU Kosher Staff