Back in the early nineties, when Russians wanted to celebrate a special occasion with good vodka, the only premium brands available were imports from other places. It's what I call the Russian Paradox: In the birthplace of vodka, the only really good products came from countries such as Sweden and Finland.
Yet there is nothing more authentically Russian. Vodka has been part of our history for more than a thousand years. It was the only thing Napoléon's soldiers took when they retreated. During Soviet times vodka was state-produced in large amounts and distributed at one price. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the market was flooded with local products of dangerously low quality.
I created Russian Standard to reclaim this territory. We started with the formula that Dmitry Mendeleyev, creator of the periodic table, specified for vodka (which stipulates, among other things, a 40 percent alcohol content). We also used hardy winter wheat from Russia's black soil and soft glacial water from Lake Ladoga. The company now holds a 60 percent share of the premium vodka market in Russia, and in 2006 alone we sold 1.4 million cases in more than 40 countries worldwide—including the United States, where Russian Standard Original, which debuted there in April, was named the official vodka of the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. —Roustam Tariko founded Russian Standard vodka in 1998 and Russian Standard Bank a year later.