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Halewood opens £5m vodka distillery in Russia

UK-based Halewood Artisanal Spirits, formerly known as Halewood Wines & Spirits, has opened a new £5 million (US$6.5m) distillery in Russia for JJ Whitley vodka.

JJ Whitley Artisanal Russian Vodka is bottled at 38% ABV

The new JJ Whitley Russia Distillery in Saint Petersburg has been opened to “further enhance the provenance and quality” of the JJ Whitley portfolio.

The company, producer of Whitley Neill gin and Crabbie’s Scotch whisky, has also changed its name from Halewood Wines & Spirits to Halewood Artisanal Spirits. The move is said to reflect its ‘continued focus on growing a premium artisanal spirits portfolio’. The new distillery in Russia is also in line with this strategy.

The JJ Whitley range will now be produced and bottled at the distillery and distributed to major global markets around the world, including the UK and Russia. The new liquid will be rolled out this month. The site will also produce the company’s Red Square Vodka brand.

The JJ Whitley range includes JJ Whitley Artisanal Russian Vodka, flavoured variants such as vanilla and blood orange, as well as a toffee-flavoured vodka-based liqueur.

The new site uses water from local 160m deep wells where layers of cambrian clay have protected the water from impurities for several centuries, Halewood said. The water then goes through four stages of filtration at the distillery.

‘Big step forward’

Stewart Hainsworth, group CEO of Halewood Artisanal Spirits, said the new distillery “marks a big step forward” for the firm’s spirits offerings.

He said: “It enables us to offer truly authentic vodka, which is distilled in one of Russia’s most historic cities using superlative quality Russian grain and water. JJ Whitley is now perfectly placed to provide supermarkets, convenience stores and the on-trade with a premium vodka range that meets this demand for both quality and value.”

The facility is the 13th distillery operated by Halewood and claims to be the first British-owned vodka distillery in Russia.

Halewood operates a number of distilleries across the world, including Ironbark in Sydney, Australia, and a site in South Africa.

In the UK, Halewood operates the Aber Falls Distillery in North Wales, the City of London and Marylebone distilleries in London, Liverpool Gin Distillery, Crabbie Distillery in Edinburgh, Bankhall Distillery in Blackpool, and the Bristol & Bath Rum Distillery.

The opening of the new Russia distillery comes just weeks after Halewood announced plans to close its headquarters in Huyton, near Liverpool. The firm will also make a number of additional voluntary redundancies due to Covid-19.

In April, the firm said it would close its US subsidiary in Miami after less than a year in operation and would downsize its Australian business.

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