Close Menu
News Sponsored story

Żubrówka: a vodka for 500 years with more to come

A part of Polish history and traditions, Żubrówka has been a constant companion from ancient times – when bison grass was used in medicine and distillation – to the Middle Ages, when vodka with bison grass became a symbol of Polish nobility, to today.

Żubrówka
Żubrówka’s recent redesign is intended to ‘emphasise the wildness that is embedded in its DNA’

Today, Żubrówka is the third-best-selling vodka in the world and is constantly expanding its product portfolio. It is evolving to be always on trend, as shown by the latest relaunch of its two flagship products, Bison Grass and Biała, which have changed their labels. But what is the brand’s success based on and how has it endured for generations?

How did it all begin?

The history of Żubrówka is not only a story about vodka, but also about the history and culture of Poland. The first information about the brand dates as far back as the 15th century, when King Casimir the Great reigned Poland. According to legend, it was during his reign that alchemists discovered the secret of vodka distillation. A recipe for vodka flavoured with bison grass was known as early as 1534; we can find it in a book written by Casimir Falimirz, which contained almost 70 recipes for ‘smoking vodka from herbs’. The strong, grassy beverage has delighted the palates of rulers and commoners alike for years – and continues to do so to this day.

The centuries-old tradition of brewing ‘grassy’ vodka in one’s home was given updated in 1894, when ‘Żubrówka’ – meaning bison grass – was registered as a trademark. Its official recipe was created half a century later, by an expert in vodka distillation, J Dubiński. The recipe remains unchanged to this day.

The heart of the brand

The uniqueness of Żubrówka Bison Grass is determined by the special place it originates from: the surroundings of the Białowieża Forest. It is the wildest forest in Poland, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. In this inaccessible wilderness, bison grass grows; it is the most important ingredient of Żubrówka and adds the unusual taste and smell of the forest. The wildness of nature is embedded in the brand’s DNA.

Żubrówka does not have only herbal notes, but also creamy vanilla and delicate spices, with a soft finish of spring flowers. The complex aroma consists of bison grass, chamomile, green apples, lavender, vanilla and almond, as well as fresh citrus fruits.

Vodka on the world podium

For centuries, Żubrówka has strengthened its position both in Poland and internationally. In a market before flavoured vodkas, Żubrówka stood out with its unique product. Today, it is the third-best-selling vodka in the world and is available in more than 70 countries, including Japan, Australia, France, the UK and Germany. In Paris’ Harry’s Bar – where the Bloody Mary cocktail was invented – Żubrowka is used in the iconic cocktail, demonstrating the brand’s influence.

Development at the rhythm of change

Żubrówka owes its success to its continuous development and ability to meet consumer expectations.

Żubrówka Czarna is a premium wheat vodka that owes its mild taste to the riches of nature. The expression is based on a combination of excellent Polish wheat spirit and water from the purest springs of Białowieża Forest. However, its final character is created during the ageing process in oak barrels. Czarna stands out for its slightly warming, dry taste and full, oaky aroma.

In response to the growing popularity of flavoured spirits among Polish consumers, the brand created four different flavour variants of Żubrówka Fresh Żu. The result is a blend of Żubrówka Bison Grass and fruity, refreshing flavours: Sour Apple, Refreshing Mint, Sour Lemon and Cherry with Lime. The flavours motivate consumers to freely express their wild nature – celebrating authenticity and enjoying every moment.

Żubrówka

Żubrówka

The products in this line have a modern design, inspired by street art. The Fresh Żu line was also present at the biggest music festivals in Poland: Orange Warsaw Festival, Opener and Audioriver.

Continuing its efforts to attract adult consumers who are ‘youthful in spirit’, in 2023, Żubrówka collaborated with streetwear brand Kamuflage. The design of this unique line of clothes alludes to both the wildness of the forest and the wildness hidden in people.

Żubrówka collaborated with streetwear brand Kamuflage

Żubrówka was also present at music events organised by the largest electronic music collective in Poland.

The brand’s traditional iconography has been modernised and with the logo simplified to just the bison’s horns. If you have a wild nature, Żubrówka will help you to express it.

Żubrówka

For everyone and everywhereSoda Żu

Responding to the needs of different consumers, Żubrówka offers ready-to-drink (RTD) variants in addition to its classics.

Soda Żu is an alcoholic beverage in a can, which fits perfectly into the RTD trend. The convenient packaging allows you to take it wherever you want, and is flavoured with apple and bison grass – the brand’s hero flavours. The canned version is light, fizzy and perfect for hot summers.

This is not the end of proposals of this type from Żubrówka. A line of low-alcohol RTDs includes Apple Żu, a Mojito-inspired drink and a Cosmo.

Continuous development

Recent changes at Żubrówka reflect its readiness to follow the changing needs of the younger generation. New flavour lines and refreshed packaging target younger adults, while the brand’s communication strategy reflects its openness to new trends. The brand has further plans, which span new product lines and sales development in more global markets.

Aware of its heritage and role in Polish and world culture, Żubrówka is firmly heading towards the future, but without forgetting 500 years of tradition, its wild identity and its values.

Żubrówka

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No