Smirnoff is a brand of vodka owned and produced by the British company Diageo. Smirnoff products include vodka, flavored vodka, and malt beverages. In March 2006, Diageo North America claimed that Smirnoff vodka was the best-selling distilled spirit brand in the world.
The vodka is made using a traditional charcoal filtration method developed by P.A. Smirnoff. Recipe No. 21 that was created by P.A.’s son Vladimir after escaping Russia during the October Revolution.
#1rd Best Selling Vodka Brand In The World In 2018 (26.0 million 9l case sales).
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Smirnoff Vodka Awards
|SMIRNOFF||Watermelon and Mint Vodka||30||Flavored Vodka||$12||Gold|
|SMIRNOFF||No. 21 Vodka||40||Vodka||$13||Gold|
|SMIRNOFF||Cucumber Lime Vodka||30||Flavored Vodka||$12||Silver|
|SMIRNOFF||Peppermint Twist||30||Flavored Vodka||$13||Silver|
|SMIRNOFF||Strawberry Rose Vodka||30||Flavored Vodka||$12||Bronze|
|SMIRNOFF||Red, White & Berry||30||Flavored Vodka||$14||Bronze|
Pyotr Arsenjevitch Smirnov founded his vodka distillery in Moscow in 1864 under the trading name of PA Smirnoff, pioneering charcoal filtration in the 1870s, and becoming the first to utilize newspaper ads along with charitable contributions to the clergy to stifle anti-vodka sermons, capturing two-thirds of the Moscow market by 1886. His brand was reportedly a Tsar favorite. When Pyotr died, he was succeeded by his third son Vladimir Smirnov (1875–1939). The company flourished and produced more than 4 million cases of vodka per year.
Revolution of 1917
In 1904, the Tsar nationalized the Russian vodka industry and Vladimir Smirnov was forced to sell his factory and brand. During the October Revolution of 1917, the Smirnov family had to flee the country. Vladimir Smirnov re-established a factory in 1920 in Constantinople (present day Istanbul). Four years later he moved to Lwów (formerly Poland, now Lviv, Ukraine) and started to sell the vodka under the contemporary French spelling of the name, “Smirnoff”. The new product sold marginally well but not nearly as it had in Russia prior to 1904. An additional distillery was founded in Paris in 1925; however the company was a shadow of its former self.
In the 1930s, Vladimir met Rudolph Kunett, a Russian who had emigrated to America in the 1920s and became a successful businessman in New York City. The Kunett family had been a supplier of grains to Smirnoff in Moscow before the Revolution.
In 1933, Vladimir sold Kunett the right to begin producing Smirnoff vodka in North America. He then returned to the United States, quit his sales job, and established his first North American distillery in Bethel, Connecticut, USA in 1933. However, the business in America was not as successful as Kunett had hoped. In 1938 Kunett could not afford to pay for the necessary sales licences, and contacted John Martin, president of Heublein.
Heublein was a company that specialized in the import and export of liquors and foreign foods. Using the $14,000 that the Heublein company made from a new product that ended up saving them from bankruptcy, Martin bought the rights to Smirnoff in 1939. His board thought he was mad. Americans were traditionally whiskey drinkers unfamiliar with vodka and so sales were very slow. In a marketing move they changed the product to use whiskey corks instead and branded it as a “white whiskey” with “no taste, no smell”.
Sales picked up considerably after that.
In 1982, the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company acquired Heublein Inc. for $1.4 billion. RJR Nabisco sold the division to Grand Metropolitan in 1987. In 1985 Heublein Corporate Audit Manager Hanson J Kan had recommended to Heublein that they buy out the Grand Metropolitan IDV Smirnoff licensee with its global licensee locations. Grand Metropolitan merged with Guinness to form Diageo in 1997.