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AB Stumbras is the oldest and largest producer of strong alcoholic drinks in Kaunas, Lithuania. The company began operations in 1906. It is also the largest exporter of strong alcoholic beverages and one of the biggest taxpayers in Lithuania. The company's most famous brands include "Lithuanian vodka" (vodka), "999" (bitter), "Gloria" (brandy), "Stumbro Starka" (bitter), "Krupnikas" (liqueur) and "Poema" (liqueur). The company name translates as Wisent.
- 1 History
- 2 Brands
- 3 Awards
- 4 Stumbras museum
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The origins of "Stumbras" lie in an 1894 law on monopolizing alcohol production by state-owned enterprises in the Russian Empire. The law was expected to increase budget revenues and to improve the quality of produced vodka. The government of Kaunas acquired a suitable plot of land in 1903 for a high price of 52,200 Russian rubles. The buildings were finished and production started at the end of 1906. The official name of the company was "Kazionyj Nr.1 vinyj očistnyj sklad" (State wine warehouse No. 1). The city's name was later included in the title. The site included an electric power station, charcoal burner (for filtration purposes), canalisation, evaporation heating, three-dimensional water supply system, six artesian wells, and a rail connection.
The company was enlarged and modernised several times until 1914. During World War I Lithuania was occupied by Germany and production of strong alcohol was forbidden. The main building was converted into a public bathhouse.
Between the wars
After the war, when Lithuania regained its independence, the cisterns were used by the Lithuanian state to store its spirits reserves and by the electric power station to store oil and kerosene. The warehouse belonged to the war commissariat. Gradually the idea of rebuilding the factory gained ground. Around 1921–22 the company received large investments for rebuilding and modernisation. The production of strong alcoholic drinks was still a monopoly, generating considerable income for the national budget.
Lithuania was occupied by the Soviets at the beginning of World War II and again from 1944. All factories and other businesses were nationalised. The factory continued to operate. In 1948 the Soviets decided to merge the Stumbras factory with the M. Velykis liquor factory, thus creating the largest alcohol producer in the Lithuanian SSR. In 1975 three local spirit producers in Atanavas, Balbieriškis and Šilutė were merged into the company and it became known as "Stumbras".
Independent Lithuania and privatisation
Stumbras was a state-owned company until 2003. UAB "Mineraliniai vandenys", a subsidiary of holding company MG Baltic, as of December 2008 owned 94.9% of the company's shares. After the privatisation, the company underwent management and organisational reforms, including the spinning off of the bioethanol plant in Šilutė. In 2006 and 2007 the company introduced several new vodka and brandy products. Increasing sales of these new products and growing exports resulted in significant growth in sales volume (47.3% in 2007) and net profits (51.4% in 2007). However, 2008 saw decreases in sales and profits with the share price dropping from near 14 litas at the end of 2007 to around 4 litas at the beginning of 2009.
In spring 2010 Stumbras started a project with the Lithuanian Institute of History to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Battle of Grunwald. The aim of the project is to create the biggest mock up model of the battle, which will be 20 sq. meters.
Stumbras produces a variety of drinks, including vodka, brandy, bitters and liqueurs.
The "Lithuanian vodka" family is the most popular vodka in Lithuania and is also well known in many foreign countries. It is an exceptionally pure and soft vodka, filtered as much as 4 times. Products in the family are: "Lithuanian vodka Original", "Lithuanian vodka Gold" and "Lithuanian vodka flavoured", which is available in raspberry, cherry, quince, and cranberry flavors. The "Lithuanian vodka" family has won awards in various international competitions and exhibitions, including "San Francisco World Spirits Competition", "Beverage Tasting Institute" and "Drinks International Vodka Challenge".
The "Stumbras vodka" family carries the company's name and combines modern technology with ancient traditions. Production involves thoroughness, attention to detail, and a lot of hand work. "Stumbras Centenary", "Stumbras Rye Bread", "Stumbras Bison Grass" and three "Stumbras Classic" flavors are available.
"Ozone Vodka" is distinguished by exceptional clarity and balanced taste. This vodka is produced from selected grain spirit and crystal clear water cleaned with special mineral filters. There are also "Ozone vodka Lime" and "Ozone vodka Melon".
Bitters are an ancient and unique part of traditional Lithuanian culture. Bitters recipes were passed from generation to generation and one could find a bottle of bitters in every homestead. The recipe of the "Herba Devynia" bitters family is related to the ancient Lithuanian pagan world-view and its division of the world into three mythological spheres: the underworld, earth and sky. The composition of the bitters includes elements representing all the spheres – 9 roots (the underworld), 9 peels and herbs (the earth), and 9 leaves, blossoms and fruits (the sky) – 27 natural vegetative ingredients in total.
"Herba Devynia Bitter", with a bitter-sweet taste and rich aroma, is one of the most mysterious drinks produced in Lithuania and has the status of Lithuanian Culinary Heritage. "Herba Devynia Original", the second member of the family, is based on the same traditions but created for those who admire innovations. "Herba Devyania Herbs & Citrus" is the newest and most modern member of the family, with a sweet citrus taste.
Starka is a special kind of vodka, which, according to legend, was produced to celebrate the birth of the first son. Following ancient traditional recipes, it should have a bright brown colour and a slightly burning taste. The drink should be produced with an infusion of apple-tree and pear-tree leaves and other vegetable material.
It is a drink of slightly burning yet piquant taste, rye-bread-like aroma and clear dark brown colour. One of the ingredients of the bitters that make it special is kvass.
This bitter has been produced by Stumbras for more than five decades. It is named in honour of the resort of Palanga and intended to evoke the sound of the Baltic Sea, sand dunes and romantic sunsets. The drink has a slightly sour taste with overtones of rowan berries, a rich aroma and brownish red colour.
"Dainava" is another bitter that has been produced by the company for over 50 years. Dainava is a historical region of Lithuania known for its forests, fast rivers, mushrooms and berries. The subtle taste of the bitters was created to praise the Dainava region and its natural treasures.
"Gloria" is a brandy with unfolding notes of citrus fruit peel, orange tree blossoms, raisins and vanilla, and a lucid amber colour. Its commercial success is shown by the many members of the family: "Gloria 5", "Gloria 7", "Gloria Le Citron", "Gloria XO" and flavoured Glorias "Pear Flavoured Gloria", "Plum Flavoured Gloria" and "Honey and Lemon Flavoured Gloria".
"Imperial XII" brandy has the colour of dark amber and the aroma of dried fruit and blooms. It goes through twelve stages of production.
Stumbras' version of krupnik is a Lithuanian honey and herbs liqueur whose recipe secrets have been passed from generation to generation for centuries. It was created by Franciscan monks at Nesvizh (Lithuanian Nesvyžius) Castle, where guests were first officially treated to the liqueur in 1593 when construction of the castle was completed. The liqueur is made of natural honey and a herbal infusion and aged in oak barrels for a lengthy period.
The "Poema" family of liqueurs are produced only from natural ingredients and hand-harvested fruit. There are three flavours, "Poema cream liqueur with coffee", "Poema cherry liqueur with brandy" and "Poema plum liqueur with plum".
"Santa Lucia" liqueurs are produced from natural juice according to original recipes. The family consists of "Santa Lucia Raspberry", "Santa Lucia Cherry" and "Santa Lucia Wild Strawberry".
Plum Liqueur with Brandy
This subtle liqueur is produced from French brandy and prunes using an original recipe.
Awards "Prodexpo 2010" (Moscow, Russia) – bitter "999" was named "Prodexpo Star", "Lithuanian vodka" Gold received gold medal award
"Wine & Spirits WSWA 2010" (Las Vegas, USA) – "Lithuanian vodka" Gold received silver medal award
"Drinks International Vodka Challenge 2009" (United Kingdom) - "Lithuanian vodka" received silver medal award
"Prodexpo 2008" (Moscow, Russia) – "Lithuanian vodka" Gold was named "Prodexpo Star"
In 2007 liqueur "Krupnikas" and bitter "999" were included in the list of Lithuanian Culinary Heritage
"Prodexpo 2007" (Moscow, Russia) – "Stumbro Šimtmečio" received gold medal award
"San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2006" (San Francisco, USA) – bitter "999" received double gold medal award, "Lithuanian vodka" Original received gold medal award, "Lithuanian vodka" Gold received gold medal award
"Beverage Testing Institute 2005" (Chicago, USA) – "Lithuanian vodka" Gold received gold medal award
At the end of 2009, the Stumbras museum was opened in Kaunas. In the museum visitors can learn about the history and cultural context of alcohol consumption and production of strong alcoholic beverages in Lithuania, and also the history of the Stumbras factory: the century-old buildings, document archive and photos.