Bacardi’s Scotch whisky is still available in Russia, despite a vow to boycott Vladimir Putin’s regime, the Daily Express can reveal.
The drinks giant had announced it would “pause” all Russian exports within weeks of the invasion of Ukraine.
It also ceased marketing investment in Moscow, gave $1million to Kyiv and produced a Ukraine-themed edition of Irish whiskey. But this week, we were able to buy its whisky brands at stores in Moscow and the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.
Batches of Dewar’s and William Lawson’s, both distilled in Scotland, were bottled as recently as the end of March.
It comes months after Pernod faced a backlash after confirming it had resumed trade with Moscow. Last night Mark Dixon, who launched the Moral Rating Agency, to monitor firms dealing with Putin, said those operating in the country smacked of “from Russia with blood”.
He added: “Fuelling the Russian economy only makes its invasion of Ukraine more affordable.” Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant, said: “This is sickening. It’s as if these people value profits more than humanity. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
Bermuda-based Bacardi, which has UK brands, offices and distilleries, showed solidarity with Ukraine shortly after Putin’s invasion last February.
The Daily Express has made repeated attempts to ask the company about how its products had been supplied to Russian shops, but has received no reply.
Bacardi, which prides itself on “doing the right thing by both people and planet” had said it was suspending Russian exports and freezing advertising.
It also donated $1million (£800,000) to humanitarian aid projects for Ukraine through the Red Cross and Mercy Corps. The handout paid for the distribution of food and medical supplies, critical care and first aid training, uniting war-dispersed families and other emergencies.
Bacardi’s Irish Whiskey Teeling also brought out a “United We Stand” edition in support of Ukraine, with a blue and yellow strip across the black bottle. The batch of 300 quickly sold out and each £73 sale price donated to charities helping Ukrainian families – with a special leaning towards children.
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Bacardi said at the time: “Our priority is toensure the safety and wellbeing of our people, especially those directly affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine. We are supporting our people in Ukraine with resources and services necessary during this time of great need.”
But at a Moscow branch of Krasnoye i Beloye (Red and White), we discovered William Lawson’s blended whisky with a bottling date of March 26 2023 stamped on the label.
The same store had other recent batches of both Bacardi Scotches, with the most recent Dewar’s bottled on New Year’s Day. Red and White in Novosibirsk had William Lawson’s bottled on February 21 and Dewar’s White Label on January 5.
Metro in Novosibirsk was selling a bottle of William Lawson’s “Super Chilli” whisky, bottled on March 20, and Dewar’s White Label from March 8.
Magnit in Moscow had White Label which was bottled on December 23 – nine months after the exports suspension.
Industry sources claim the widespread availability of the brands implies Bacardi still has a distribution network functioning in Putin’s Russia. However, this has not been confirmed. The company has been asked about the claim but has not responded.
Dewar’s is distilled and bottled in Scotland before being exported. William Lawson’s is sent to Russia and bottled there.
Other drinks companies which pulled out of Russia after the invasion included Diageo, which markets Johnnie Walker whisky and Guinness, and Pernod maker Pernod Ricard.
Pernod, which described itself as “deeply shocked and saddened” by the war faced a backlash in April when it admitted resuming sales to Russia.
It said the decisions to restock supplies of Beefeater gin and Jameson whisky, “were not taken lightly”.
Many companies joined the boycott voluntarily, even though the Government has banned only the export of military or strategic products to Russia.
The Daily Express has contacted Andrew Carney, Bacardi’s communications director for western Europe, for comment.
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