Żubrówka - vodka 500 years and running even faster

Żubrówka has been a constant companion for people, becoming part of Polish history and traditions. From ancient times, when bison grass was used in medicine and distillation, to the Middle Ages, when vodka with bison grass became a symbol of Polish nobility. 

Today, Żubrówka is the third best-selling vodka in the world and is constantly expanding its product portfolio to follow trends. It is changing to be always on trend, as shown by the latest relaunch of its two flagship products, Żubrówka Bison Grass and Żubrówka Biała, which have changed their iconic labels. What is the brand's success based on and what makes it ‘Stand Up Again’ for generations?

Serve the wild

How did it all begin?

The history of the Żubrówka brand is not only a story about vodka, but also about the history and culture of Poland. The first information about the brand dates back as far as the 15th century, when King Casimir the Great reigned on Polish soil. According to legend, it was during his reign that Polish alchemists discovered the secret of vodka distillation. A recipe for vodka flavoured with bison grass was known as early as 1534. We can find it in the herbarium written by Casimir Falimirz ‘Hortus sanitatis. About herbs and their power", which contained almost 70 recipes for “smoking vodka from herbs”. The strong, grassy beverage has delighted the palates of rulers and commoners alike for years - and continues to do so to this day!

There was finally a new chapter in the centuries-old tradition of brewing ‘grassy’ vodka in the comfort of one's own home. In 1894, ‘Żubrówka’ was registered as a trademark and its official recipe was created half a century later. It was developed by an eminent expert in vodka distillation, J. Dubiński. It still functions in an almost unchanged form today.

The heart of the brand

The uniqueness of Żubrówka Bison Grass is determined by the special place from which it originates - the surroundings of the Białowieża Forest - the wildest forest in Poland, so virgin it was put on UNESCO's list of World heritage. In this inaccessible wilderness, bison grass grows - the most important ingredient of Żubrówka, which brings the unusual taste and smell of the forest to the table. The wildness of nature is thus embedded in the brand's DNA. Żubrówka is oriented towards diversity and is always ready to create new and exciting experiences.

The taste of Żubrówka is not only herbal notes, but also creamy vanilla and delicate spices, with a soft finish of spring flowers. The aroma consists of complex aromas of bison grass, chamomile, green apples, lavender, vanilla and almond, as well as the freshness of citrus fruits.

Vodka on the world podium

For centuries, Żubrówka has consistently strengthened its position both in Poland and internationally.  In a market where there were no flavoured vodkas, Żubrówka stood out with its unique product - Żubrówka Bison Grass. Today Żubrówka is the third best-selling vodka in the world, reaching consumers in more than 70 countries - including Japan, Australia, France, the UK and Germany. In Paris, at Harry's Bar, where Bloody Marry was created, it is served on Żubrowka. This shows that the brand has a huge influence even on world classics.

Development at the rhythm of change

Żubrówka owes its success to continuous development and meeting consumer expectations - following new generations. 

In 2010 Żubrówka has launched Żubrówka Biała – clear vodka, which from the beginning to this day is one of the biggest clear vodkas in the world.

Żubrówka Czarna is a super premium product that meets the highest distillery standards.  This wheat vodka, owes its perfectly mild taste to the riches of the original nature. Żubrówka Czarna is a variant based on a combination of excellent Polish wheat spirit and water from the purest springs of the Forest. However, the final character is given to it by the aging process in oak barrels. It stands out for its slightly warming, dry taste and full, oaky aroma.

In response to the growing popularity of flavoured spirits among Poles, four different flavour variants of Żubrówka Fresh Żu were created to satisfy the most demanding tastes of people who love interesting and refreshing flavours. Combining a note of craziness and dynamic lifestyle, the classic Żubrówka Bison Grass and fruity, refreshing flavours: Sour Apple, Refreshing Mint, Sour Lemon and Cherry with Lime motivate their consumers to freely express their wild nature - celebrating authenticity, enjoying every moment.

The products in this line have a modern design, inspired by street art. The Fresh Żu line was also present at the biggest music festivals in Poland: Orange Warsaw Festival, Opener and Audioriver.

Continuing its efforts to recruit adult consumers ‘youthful in spirit’ to the brand, Żubrówka also undertakes non-standard activities that go beyond the vodka market. In 2023, it carried out a collaboration with the streetwear brand Kamuflage, which resulted in the creation of a unique line of clothes whose design alludes both to the wilderness flowing out of the forest and the wildness hidden in people. 

As a timely brand reaching out to new generations of adult consumers, Żubrówka was also present at music events organised by the one of the biggest electronic music collective in Poland. Brand traditional iconography has been modernised and synthesised to bison's horns - horns that can be grown on anything and anyone - If you have wild nature Żubrówka will help you to express it.

For everyone and everywhere

Responding to the needs of different consumers, Żubrówka offers ‘ready to serve’ variants in addition to its classics such as the cult Żubrówka Bison Grass, Żubrówka Biała or the aforementioned Fresh Żu line. 

Soda Żu is an alcoholic beverage in a can, which fits perfectly into the ready-to-drink trend. The convenient packaging allows you to take it wherever you want. The recipe is based on the iconic combination of Apple and Żubrówka Bison Grass - this original sin from Białowieża Forest paradise is called Apple ŻU and known around the world as a hero drink of the Brand. The canned version is lighter, fizzy and perfect for hot summers.
This is not the end of proposals of this type from Żubrówka. A line of Iconic Drinks has been created for lovers of ready-made low-alcohol cocktails. All three variants are based on some of the most popular and recognisable cocktails enriched with bison grass extract. APPLE ŻU is Żubrówka's hero drink, a blend of apple juice and bison grass, which has been recognised as an iconic combination for years. Another classic of the genre is the MOJITO-inspired version. In this most popular cocktail in the world, rum has been replaced with Bison Grass, giving it a unique flavour. The last of the Iconic Drinks variants is COSMO, in which instead of lemon vodka and triple sec liqueur we find Żubrowka Bison Grass. 

Continuous development

In recent years, the Żubrówka brand has made a number of innovations that confirm its readiness to follow the young generation and changing consumer needs. The introduction of new flavour lines dedicated to young adults, the refreshment of packaging design are only part of this process. The new brand communication strategy reflects a spirit of modernity and openness to new trends. And it emphatically says ‘We are not stopping and we are going for more’. Żubrówka has further ambitious plans for the future, which include not only new additions to the portfolio, but also the development of sales in more global markets.  Aware of its heritage and its role in Polish and world culture, Żubrówka is firmly heading towards the future, but without forgetting 500 years of tradition - its wild identity and values.