Facing calls to ban Russian vodka at state-run liquor stores around the nation, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority today said it would no longer sell the drinks.

In a tweet, ABC said, “In the spirit of Gov. [Glenn] Youngkin’s call for decisive action in support of Ukraine, Virginia ABC is removing 7 Russian-sourced vodka brands from our store shelves. Russian-themed brands not produced in Russia like Stolichnaya and Smirnoff will not be removed.”

Youngkin yesterday ordered a review of state purchases from Russia to ban.

Former Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore, who has advised Youngkin, said that taking Russian vodka off the shelves of Virginia ABC stores would be a sign of solidarity with Ukraine.

“Virginia should not be making money on the deaths of Ukrainian patriots. Using Russian vodka in your martini is like pouring Ukrainian blood in your cocktail. Virginians should not be drinking with war criminals,” said Gilmore.

He also told Secrets that it is time to go national with the Russian vodka ban. The governors of New Hampshire, Texas, and Ohio have called for the removal of the booze from liquor store shelves in their states.

The former governor was former President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. In that job, he focused his efforts on criticizing the Kremlin’s move into Crimea and threats to Ukraine.

Like Gilmore, some state lawmakers had also called for the vodka ban. State Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas, a Democrat of Portsmouth, tweeted, “We need to take strong actions to support Ukraine, so I am calling on @GovernorVA to order the removal of all Russian Vodka and any other Russian products from our ABC stores immediately.”

Much of the vodka Americans drink is not made in Russia, even brands with Russian-sounding names.

“Some of the popular vodka brands consumers may think are Russian are not produced in Russia. There is not a lot of Russian-made vodka in the U.S. marketplace. Imports of Russian vodka to the United States are down nearly 79% since 2011, and accounted for only 1.3% of total vodka imports in 2021," said Lisa Hawkins of the industry's Washington representative, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

She provided Secrets with a chart of the top countries the U.S. imports vodka from. It is led by France, and Russia ranks just sixth, with imports at $18 million.

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