May 04, 2022 — As we watch the systematic destruction of Ukraine by the Russian dictator, it is hard to imagine businesses reopening but this is what is happening in parts of Ukraine where the Russian army is still at bay, and President Zelenskyy is encouraging reopening where safe.
One such business is XDar Vodka located in Cherkassy about 124 miles (200 km) south of Kyiv. Created in 2002, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year is certainly bittersweet. When the invasion started in mid-February, XDar was forced to halt production but continued to pay their 4,400 employees.
We spoke to Natalya Kolosok , the CEO of Liquorum Imports, Inc., the US importer of XDar. She stressed that while many employees are now in the Ukrainian army defending their country, those able to work were anxious to resume operations and have a purpose. We wondered about the logistics of sourcing supplies such as bottles, boxes, raw materials and so on. As expected, this is a major headache. There used to be three producers of boxes. Now there is just one in Kyiv. The same with bottles and she mentioned the difficulties in obtaining labels, too. They are unable to distribute product in Ukraine but continue to export to a limited number of countries. Prior to the invasion, their parent company Bayadera Group was exporting their brands, including XDar to 45 countries.
The high tech XDar Distillery was built in 2005 and is capable of producing 150 million bottles annually. In 2021 it sold eight million cases worldwide. Liquorum started importing XDar two years ago and it is currently available in NY, NJ, TX, MA, MD, SC, WA. XDar is also available on Drizly and through Royal Wine Merchants.
The MSRP is around $16 for a 750 ml bottle.
The vodka is made in the traditional Ukrainian method from the best wheat varieties and pure artesian water. It undergoes eight meticulous filtration stages and it is also kosher. Royal Wine Merchants has been donating the proceeds of sales and in March had already raised more than $100,000. As Natalya Kolosok commented,
“The amount of support we’ve seen has been incredible. People want to do what they can to help, and the more vodka we sell, the more people we can bring back to work.”