Food & Drink

Even Putin Can’t Save Putin Brand Vodka

Vladimir Putin may keep the Russian people in line with his steely gaze and judo skills, but he can’t make them buy his vodka. Sales have dipped significantly this year for Putinka vodka, which has traded on the popularity of the Russian president’s name to much success since its launch in 2003. However, after nabbing the top spot among Russian vodka brands in 2005, Putinka has now slipped to 15th place in sales rankings, according to Russian newspaper Kommersant (via Newsweek). It’s unclear yet what this means for the U.S. women’s Olympic bobsled team, which the Putinka brand sponsored in Sochi in 2014.

Though Putin has no official involvement with the brand, the company is owned by one of the president’s childhood besties, Arkady Rotenberg, making it part of the oligarchic shadow-world that allows money to move around without a bunch of pesky names attached. So we’re guessing Putin isn’t happy about his citizens’ sudden distaste for the spirit bearing his name, and not just because he’s physically incapable of joy. If he needs a pick-me-up, though, he can always blame the poor sales on bad marketing by a new distributor, as Russian think tank CIFRA did. We’re sure Putinka’s distributor will love outer Mongolia. It’s lovely there this time of year.

As with so many stories connected to the Russian government, though, it’s also possible this is all a cover story. From where we’re sitting, it’s clear that the sales downturn is karmic payback for that time Putin drank a priceless 240-year-old Crimean wine.