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J.J. Whitley Artisanal Gold Vodka, 70cl

£16.275£32.55Clearance
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An array of vodkas were presented to our panel of judges last month, from a pear-flavoured showstopper to a number of rye-based bottlings. We’ve uncovered the brands that stole the show in our latest blind tasting of the category. The vodka is made by combining Nemiroff Vodka with honey, pepper and fresh pear, delivering “pear drops” on the nose and “authentic pear flavour” on the palate. Belvedere cleaned up in the Vodka – Rye flight, securing a total of seven medals altogether. One Master award was granted to its Heritage 176, a vodka spirit drink with “bold, strong rye notes”, and “chocolatey, chewy” flavours. The company currently employs about 950 people and produces a number of different branded spirits, including Crabbies Alchoholic Ginger Beer, Dead Man’s Fingers Rum, Aber Falls and Liverpool Gin.

The Welsh bottling is five-times distilled and charcoal-filtered, made with pure glacier water and a hint of barley spirit. Out of respect for the situation, we have removed all references to the ‘Remarkably Russian’ campaign across all our JJ Whitley communications”, she added.

Out of respect for the situation, we have removed all references to the ‘Remarkably Russian’ campaign across all our JJ Whitley communications.” ​ Halewood Artisanal Spirits is a family business founded and headquartered in the UK,”​ the spokesman added. “The JJ Whitley Distillery in St. Petersburg is 100% owned by Halewood and has no affiliation with the Russian government.” ​ Western business have been pulling out of Russia in their droves in response to the invasion, with giants of the fuel industry – including BP, Exxon and Shell – all announcing their departure from the country. The judges were excited by its complex profile, and found the palate to be “creamy, smooth with a slight chilli heat” finishing with some “citrusy notes”.

Halewood, which owns a distillery in St Petersburg, plans to launch “British-made” JJ Whitley by the end of March. AAK has a sales office in Ukraine with approximately 10 employees, whose safety is our main focus. We are in continuous dialogue with them and will do our utmost to ensure their continued safety. Russia makes up 3% of AAK’s volumes, as measured in metric tons, and Ukraine makes up less than 1%. AAK continuously evaluates the situation and will adopt accordingly."​ Pur Vodka was noticed for its smooth qualities, bagging a Gold medal in the Microdistillery flight, while Pur Sang Select, Pur Sang Standard and Pur Vodka all won Silver awards.The Co-op and Morrisons have removed Russian vodka from shelves. Marks & Spencer has suspended shipments to its Turkish franchisee's Russian business and offered millions of pounds in aid to Ukrainian refugees and families affected by the war. Founded in 1978, family-owned Halewood owns and manages 11 main distilleries and one craft brewery and distributes to 75 countries, including the UK, South Africa, Canada, Australia, China and Germany. According to The Brand Champions 2021 report, the vodka’s million‐case‐selling brands were among the most resilient of all spirits sectors. Multiple brands, particularly those from Eastern European countries, were able to sustain or substantially grow volumes last year in the face of never‐before‐seen adversity brought about by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Halewood Group said: “ The Halewood Group is 100% opposed to the Russian Army invasion of Ukraine. We have expressed our support to our Ukrainian customers, our largest export market. ​ Presented in the Rest of the World flight, Croc Vodka was one of the two brands to bag a Master medal. The Spirits Business held its annual Vodka Masters in September, a category considered to be blossoming as distillers look to experiment with native ingredients.The brand’s mission is to showcase local produce, combined with creating of high-quality products from North Queensland. Craft breweries, cider makers, wineries, and drinkers across Europe are coming together for a series of events throughout March to raise funds and show solidarity for friends and peers in Ukraine. The Drinkers For Ukraine initiative is a fundraising drive to support the International Red Cross humanitarian relief effort in Ukraine. Starting today, the campaign is asking people around the world, and across the drinks industry to get involved, in whatever way they can.

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