116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — In a symbolic gesture of support for the Ukrainian people who are under Russian attack, Gov. Kim Reynolds has directed the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division to remove any Russian-produced alcoholic liquor products from its wholesale purchase list.
Her order is unlikely to have much impact in Iowa even though Iowans purchased 2,024,662 gallons of vodka through the ABD in 2021. In the top 10 brands by gallons sold, there are five brands of vodka — Tito’s, Hawkeye, McCormick, Smirnoff and Five O’Clock.
However, Russian vodkas account for a very small portion of overall sales, spokesman Tyler Ackerson said Monday. Over the past 12 months, the sale of Russian vodka has totaled about $95,000 out of more than $93 million in vodka sales.
Whiskey, led by Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey, is the drink of choice for Iowans based on ABD’s gallons sold — 2,117,237 in 2021. Sales of whiskey exceeded $168 million, according to ABD’s annual report.
Very few brands imported to the United States still are produced in Russia. Smirnoff vodka, for example, traces its roots to Moscow, but is distilled in the U.S. Stoli, which basically translates into “capital city” because it originated in Moscow, is distilled in Latvia as well as Russia and has its headquarters in Luxembourg, a NATO country.
ABD has only three Russian vodkas permanently listed — Russian Standard Original Vodka, Russian Standard Platinum Vodka and Hammer + Sickle Vodka, Ackerson said.
Another three are considered “special order on hand listing” — Russian Standard Imperia Vodka, Zu Bison Grass Vodka and Quadro Vodka. ABD has several Russian vodkas listed as “special order.”
While Russian-made products that will no longer be available for purchase from the state wholesale operation, retailers are not required to cease sales of those products. Some retailers, bars and restaurants already have stopped offering Russian products in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.
Iowa is one of 17 states that controls the sale of alcoholic liquor at the wholesale level. Under Iowa law, ABD has the authority to determine the brands of alcoholic liquor products available for sale to retailers. Alcoholic liquor is sold by ABD to off-premises retailers, who then sell the products directly to consumers or to on-premises retailers, such as bars and restaurants.
In issuing the order, Reynolds joins the governors of Utah, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania in making the symbolic gesture of support for Ukraine.
Reynolds also has called for Iowa Sister States to end its relationship with Stavropol Krai, Russia, and provide recommendations for enhancing its sister state relationship with Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine.
More information on the delisting of Russian products will be available at the ABD website on or before March 1.
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