The Bulletin

Virginia ABC puts $77K worth of Russian vodka into storage

By: - February 28, 2022 4:27 pm

A liquor store in downtown Richmond. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority says the $77,000 worth of Russian-sourced vodka it pulled from shelves won’t be thrown out but will be stored at its facilities “until further notice.”

The government-run liquor monopoly announced Sunday it was removing seven vodka brands from its stores in response to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s call for the state to show solidarity against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Combined, those brands accounted for just over $1 million in sales in fiscal year 2021, according to ABC spokesperson Dawn Eischen, a small fraction of the $57 million in sales for the American vodka brand Tito’s, Virginia’s top-selling liquor. An estimated $68,000 in Russian-sourced vodka was pulled from store shelves, Eischen said, with another $9,500 idled at ABC’s distribution center that won’t be shipped out to stores.

The agency’s Russian vodka supply also includes $30,000 in bottles still owned by suppliers, not the government. That too will be unavailable on store shelves for the time being.

ABC officials noted that “Russian-themed” vodka brands like Smirnoff and Stolichnaya would not be affected because they aren’t produced in Russia.

No Russian entities stood to gain financially from the sale of bottles already purchased by ABC.

“Once the product is in the stores, the manufacturer has been paid,” Eischen said. “Revenue from the sale belongs to ABC.”

Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, took to Twitter Saturday morning to call for ABC to pull Russian products from its stores.

Later that day, Youngkin called for “decisive action in support of Ukraine,” requesting a review of any state contracts or investments tied to Russia.

“The invasion of Ukraine by Soviet dictator Vladimir Putin cannot stand, and the people of the commonwealth are ready to rally in opposition to this senseless attack on a sovereign nation and western ideals,” Youngkin said in a news release.

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Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville. Contact him at [email protected]