One of Poland’s most known vodka brands, with the peculiar bison grass blade from the Bialowieza Forest. The brand is part of the CEDC portfolio, which in 2022 passed from Russian Standard’s hands into Maspex Group.
Before the launch of Zubrowka Biala (White) – which is the grass-less version of the product inspired by the white winters in the secular forest – the brand was forbidden in the US. As described in a WSJ article:
Distillers here have the American spirit—vodka from where the buffalo roam. But this cocktail has a twist: It’s banned in the U.S.
Now, after nearly a decade of work on two continents to formulate and brand a legal version of the alcohol, its producers are taking a shot at the American market. The booze, called Żubrówka, is unusual because it is flavored with a rare, pungent wild grass enjoyed by European bison. Each bottle has a blade of grass in it for the drinker to admire.
Bison grass grows in one of Europe’s most remote and pristine corners, in and around an ancient forest that straddles the border with Belarus. The vast primeval woods, protected by a special United Nations designation, are home to one of Europe’s last herds of bison, which are cousins of the American buffalo.
Żubrówka has been a Polish national drink for centuries and a cult favorite internationally for decades. But in the U.S., it’s taboo because the Food and Drug Administration prohibits a potentially toxic chemical that occurs naturally in bison grass, coumarin. Until recently, only a few black-market bottles were available, mainly in the Polish neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Chicago.
Since 2010 the vodka has grown among the top brands in the world, also thanks to the other line extensions, like Czarna (Black) – launched in 2016 and filtered from carbon from the same Bialowieza forest.