UK-based Halewood Artisanal Spirits has moved production of its JJ Whitley vodka back to England, two years after it opened a multi-million-pound distillery for the brand in Russia.
Halewood opened the £5 million (US$6.59m) JJ Whitley Russia Distillery in 2020, moving production of its JJ Whitley vodka from England to St Petersburg to ‘further enhance the provenance and quality’ of the brand.
At the time of the announcement, the site was said to be the first British-owned vodka distillery in Russia, and enabled Halewood to draw upon its extensive management experience within the market.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Halewood said it would move production of JJ Whitley back to the company’s distillery in Chorley, Lancashire, with immediate effect.
The St Petersburg site also produces the company’s Red Square Vodka, but the firm has not yet confirmed whether production for the brand will also be moved.
The company said in a statement that it was “100% opposed to the Russian army invasion of Ukraine”. The firm added: “We have expressed our support to our Ukrainian customers, our largest export market.”
In July last year, the company revealed a £3.5m (US$4.8m) campaign for JJ Whitley vodka to highlight its Russian provenance.
The firm said it had removed all references to its ‘Remarkably Russian’ campaign across all communications for JJ Whitley.
Halewood added that the St Petersburg distillery is fully owned by the company and is not affiliated with the Russian government.
The range includes JJ Whitley Artisanal Russian Vodka, flavoured variants such as vanilla and blood orange, as well as a toffee-flavoured vodka-based liqueur.
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Author: Nicola Carruthers