DI’s Lucy Britner gets the lowdown on vodka from the man in the know

Do you meet the Russian Standard? I recently met Russian Standard vodka founder Roustam Tariko’s college roommate. In fact, he works for the firm, too. Igor Galburt is the company’s global brand ambassador (though it also says on his business card executive VP corporate affairs – very American-sounding) and he came to give us a Russian Standard injection. Are you aware of the how the brand got its name, for example? I’ll tell you…

The chap who came up with the Periodic Table of Elements, which I hadn’t thought about since high school science, came up with a ‘standard’ for vodka production. After sorting out the table, Russia’s own Dimitri Mendeleev became the director of the bureau of weights and measures and in that role created the vodka standard, which became law and all vodka had to be 40%abv. It’s thought this standardisation prevented many from dying of drinking moonshine.

As Igor further lifted the skirt on what he calls “Russia’s only global vodka brand”, he told us the company only uses winter wheat from the Black Soil region of Russia. Winter wheat is planted in September, gets snowed on and is harvested around this time of year. Generally, winter wheat has a higher gluten content.

Then there’s the filtration – for the Platinum it’s silver-impregnated charcoal and for Imperia it’s quartz crystals. Quartz creates static electricity that binds ethanol and water molecules together for a smoother vodka. The distillery also uses its own vodka to wash out the bottles.

What about flavours? Everyone else does it. Igor says no. But he also says “never say never”. He did emphasise, though, that if Russian Standard produced a flavour, it would be something traditionally Russian.

The Russian Standard company also owns the Miss Russia contest and she helps spread the word around the world. It seems Roustam and Igor aren’t just rebranding vodka, they’re rebranding Russia.