The King of Vodka

  • Rating: 9
  • Value: 8
Classification: ,

Interesting and engaging book on how Smirnoff came to be

TITLE: The King of Vodka
SUBTITLE: The Story of Pyotr Smirnov and The Upheaval of an Empire
AUTHOR : Linda Himmelstein
COST : $29.99 US
TYPE: Reference
REVIEWED BY: Chris Carlsson,

Drawing a rich picture of live in 19th and early 20th century Russia while chronicling the the single minded ambition and drive the founder of the Smirnov Vodka brand this book draws on hundreds documents, interviews, and records to weave a engaging read covering history, society, politics and of course drinking in Russia.

This is not a get rich quick story to put it mildly. Completely unlike a number of people in the vodka trade these days who made a lot of fast cash and got out, Pyotr Smirnov worked like a dog and had huge reversals of fortune at almost every turn it seems. If all vodka entrepreneurs had this much trouble or even if this book came out 15 years ago and became a cautionary tale I think the vodka market would still be were it was then (which could be argued as not a bad thing by some) .

If you wish to understand vodka and also the historical roots of Russian society and it’s love/hate relationship to its greatest comfort and bane, you must read this book.

Please check out her website at:

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