Stoli: We’re Not Russian

Blindsided by a global gay-rights protest of “Russian” vodka in the wake of the country’s anti-gay law, the popular brand Stolichnaya is pushing back with an unexpected strategy: denying its provenance. Stoli advertised itself as Russian until 2010, even though it has always been made in Latvia, and the brand’s owner is considered an outlaw by the Russian government. It is now filtered and bottled in Latvia, and its ingredients come from across Europe. “I always thought it was Russian,” said Kaspars Zalitis, a Latvian gay-rights activist. The boycott was promoted in the U.S. by prominent gay Americans like sex columnist Dan Savage. Gay activist Stuart Milk said American boycotters thought Stoli was an “easy target,” but that the boycott was “misguided.”