–is a brand of vodka owned and produced by the British company Diageo. Products include vodka, flavored vodka, and malt beverages.
Founder(s): Pyotr Arsenievich Smirnov
The brand began with a vodka distillery founded in Moscow by Pyotr Arsenievich Smirnov (1831–1898), the son of illiterate Russian peasants, under the trading name of PA Smirnoff who pioneered charcoal filtration in the 1870s. His brand was reportedly the tsar’s favorite. When he died, he was succeeded by his third son Vladimir Smirnov.
- In 1904 the Tsar nationalized the Russian vodka industry and Vladimir was forced to sell his factory and brand. During the October Revolution of 1917, the family had to flee
- Vladimir Smirnov re-established the factory in 1920 in Constantinople (present day Istanbul). Four years later he moved to Lwów (formerly Poland, now Lviv, Ukraine) and started to sell the vodka under the contemporary French spelling of the name, “Smirnoff”.
- In late 1930s, Heublein acquired the North American rights of the brand
- In Kentucky sales rocketed as the distributor started marketing the brand as ‘white whiskey, no taste, no smell’.
- In 1982, the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company acquired Heublein Inc. for $1.4 billion dollars. RJR Nabisco sold the division to Grand Metropolitan in 1987.
- Grand Metropolitan merged with Guinness to form Diageo in 1997
- During the 1990s one of Piotr Smirnov’s descendants, Boris Smirnov, started producing Smirnov (Смирновъ in Ukraine) vodka in Russia, claiming to be “The Only Real Smirnov”. After a number of lawsuits, the company successfully reclaimed its trademark, while in 2006 Diageo concluded a joint venture deal with the Smirnov company
- They had the naming rights to the Smirnoff Music Centre, a concert amphitheater in Dallas, Texas from 2000-2008
- There are two different products by the name of Ice. One, sold in France and the United States, is a citrus-flavored malt beverage (5.5% ABV) with variants in ‘Original,’ and ‘Triple Black.’ The other, sold in Europe (excluding France), Latin America, Australia and Canada, is a premixed vodka drink
- Source, a lightly carbonated beer-alternative, was released in May 2007