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Russian vodka banned from Utah shelves; plenty of options remain

Vodka shot.jpg
KPCW
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KPCW
Russian-made vodka has been removed from Utah liquor store shelves, but plenty of options remain for shoppers.

Last Saturday, Governor Cox signed an executive order effective immediately ordering all Russian-made products to be removed from liquor store shelves. In a statement, Cox said Utah stands in solidarity with Ukraine and will not support Russian enterprises, no matter how small the exchange.

Tiffany Clason, executive director of Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, supported the move.

“And it was something that we were very pleased and eager to help support to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people.” Clason said. “At the moment, we only have one product that we've pulled from our shelves, and that is Russia standard, which is a vodka. And so that is absolutely definitely a product that is made in Russia.”

Clason said the agency is continuing to review its inventory for any products that would fall into the category of made or branded in Russia.

“So what we don't want to do though, is hurt US companies or other companies that are not Russian as a part of this executive order, so that's why our review process has been pretty thorough.”

She said that despite public perception, very few vodkas are made in Russia. For example, some may believe Stoli vodka is Russian but it’s actually Latvian. And she said the son of the founder of Smirnoff fled Russia during the Bolshevik revolution and became a refugee. Clason said that company is now UK-owned and the vodka is largely produced in Illinois.

Once the bottles are removed from the stores in Utah they are taken to the warehouse where they will sit until further notice. Clason said that even though Russian vodka is a small percentage of Utah liquor sales, it’s an important step for the state to take.

“I think there are many communities across America and quite frankly, across the West, that are doing these things. And when you have these maybe smaller acts, they add up to be a really large show of disapproval for what Russia has done.”

Clason said the shelves are stocked with domestic products including Utah-made vodka. And she said the department is working to get Ukranian vodka into stores.