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Issue 37 - Back in the USSR

Whisky Magazine Issue 37
February 2004


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Back in the USSR

In the second part of his feature on Russian whisky, Erkin Touzmohamedov looks at the period from Kruschev to the modern day

You can really try to hook the story of whisky to Soviet/Russian political history – and it makes some sense: Nikita Kruschev, the most dramatic politician in contemporary history of this country to the inadequate and destructive deeds of Gorbachev.

If the first Soviet whisky was made on Stalin's orders, the next one could have been something like a bourbon.

Nikita Kruschev, who followed Stalin and started improving relations with the west, was extremely fond of corn and made attempts to plant it everywhere, even in climates not suitable for pine trees…

He met Nixon, then US President-to-be a couple of times and on one occasion Nixon introduced the Soviet leader to I.W.Harper, a nice American bourbon.

Kruschev's reaction was a classic one. He is meant to have said: “You Americans have a very nice whiskey, but you spoil it by putting too much ice into it – there is more ice than whiskey”.

Had Khrushev stayed and carried on with his state wide agricultural experiments in corn proliferation (there was even a joke he wanted to plant corn on the moon), he'd definitely order something like a bourbon to be made in the USSR.

The next Soviet whisky came almost 20 years later, and it was named “Whisky 73”.

About that time Soviet versions of other international categories of alcoholic drinks, appeared – Kapitansky Dzhin (Captain's gin), Vermouth and some others. Whisky 73 was produced at the Kristall plant in Moscow, a leading Russian vodka producer, and as the na...

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