The managers of the once popular Kremlin Vodka brand are thinking about expanding production. The Moscow plant Kristall, famous for Putinka vodka, received the rights to produce this drink. “Kremlin vodka” is represented in the largest price category on the market, but the fashion for “power” brands is fading, experts say.
The Moscow plant "Crystal" (vodka "Putinka", Drova) received the right to use the brand "Kremlin Vodka" and a declaration of conformity to produce a drink under this brand, according to data from Rospatent and RosAccreditation. A non-exclusive sublicense for Kremlin Vodka until April 2027 was granted to Kristall in September 2023 by Russian Spirits Company LLC, which in the summer entered into a licensing agreement until the end of 2045 with the brand's copyright holder, the Federal State Unitary Enterprise "Trading House Kremlevsky".
Previously, since September 2020, the exclusive license for the brand was held by the alcohol distributor Grand Castel, probably associated with the Russian Spirits Company. According to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, these companies belong to German and Vyacheslav Gilyadov, respectively. “Crystal” and “Grand Castel” did not provide comments, and the Russian Spirits Company could not be contacted.
Kremlin vodka was one of the most popular in Russia in the 1990s. In 1995, its sales volume was estimated at approximately 5 million decaliters. In 2003, the rights to the brand were bought by Yuri Shefler’s SPI Group, whose structures were suing the Russian Federation for such vodka brands as Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya. But in 2007, the former Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Kremlin”, through the chamber for patent disputes of Rospatent, canceled SPI’s rights to all trademarks associated with “Kremlevskaya”.
The last producer of Kremlin Vodka was the Stepnoe Prostori plant in the Orenburg region, which received a sublicense for the brand from Grand Castel in 2022. General Director of Online Patent Alina Akinshina says that usually early termination of a license agreement entails termination of sublicenses, but the agreement with Stepnoye Prostory could have had special conditions. In “Steppe Expanses” Kommersant did not answer.
CIFRRA director Vadim Drobiz notes that the launch of Kremlin Vodka bottling at the Kristall site in the Moscow region may be an attempt to expand production and increase logistics efficiency. In 2022, Kristall approximately doubled the production of vodka, to 145.65 thousand dal year-on-year, reducing sales by 83%, to 97.25 thousand dal, the company’s annual report said.
The owner of the Kaufman brand agency, Stanislav Kaufman, notes that the peak of popularity of Kremlin vodka occurred in the years when the association of any product with the Kremlin was a confirmation of quality and status for consumers. But, he notes, over time the trend became less relevant, and the premium brand Kremlin Award appeared in vodka. In general, Mr. Kaufman notes, “state pathos” in the food and beverage market no longer particularly stimulates the buyer, and other topics are more in demand, for example, environmental, folklore, nostalgic. President of Ladoga (Tsarskaya vodka; previously produced Kremlin vodka under contract) Veniamin Grabar notes that in terms of positioning and design, the product was focused mainly on the incoming tourist flow, which has sharply decreased since 2020. Director of the main portfolio of the Alcohol Siberian Group (ASG; brands Belaya Berezka, Sibbitter, Five Lakes) Natalya Nevorotova says that the premium segment of vodka is growing better than others, but “power” brands are becoming less and less relevant. ASG, she says, is expanding the White Birch and Gastronom lines in this category. Tatspirtprom (Tundra, Russian Currency) notes that vodka costs 300–500 rubles. per bottle is the most voluminous and attractive segment for manufacturers, and they plan to expand their presence here through the Kupava brand.