Emporia brings Russian ‘bread wine’ spirit to UK


A Russian-style of grain-based spirit known as “bread wine”, which has not been available for more than 120 years, is being introduced to the UK.

Polugar is triple-distilled in traditional copper pot stills which have been banned in Russia since 1895 when the state took control of vodka production. Since then, only ultra-pure rectified ethyl alcohol can be made from grain for vodka.

Specialist drinks company Emporia Brands is introducing the range, comprising three single-grain distillates and four infusions, into the UK, debuting them at the Imbibe Live show in London on July 1 and 2.

The vodka-like spirits are recommended for serving chilled but are also suitable for cocktails, demonstrated by new recipes created by Mario la Pietra at The Luggage Room in Grosvenor Square, London, and Maurizio Palermo at Salvatore’s Bar at Playboy London (see below).

Because of the continuing Russian ban on the traditional style of grain distillation, Polugar is produced at a restored old distillery in Poland. However, its production is based on research by Russian vodka historian Boris Rodionov who founded the distillery.

The Polugar range of distillates is made using selected grains and natural spring water which has not been chemically treated, and then clarified using a traditional process with egg whites.

It ends with a long purification of the distillate using birch wood charcoal before bottling. The design of the bottle is based on one belonging to Tsarina Elizabeth from 1745 which is in the Russian National Museum.

With a natural bready taste and aroma, Polugar comes in three distillates, all at 38.5% ABV and in 70cl bottles:

  • Single Malt Rye Polugar, distilled from a fermentation of malted rye grains, resulting in a complex, mild taste of fresh rye bread, honey and meadow grass, with a slight rye bitterness.
  • Classic Rye Polugar uses coarse-milled rye grains, giving the warming soft taste of rye bread, slightly sweet, with a hint of honey, spice and grass.
  • Wheat Polugar is made solely from wheat, which provides a plumper texture, with a sweet richness, and touches of grass and stone fruit.

The Polugar Infusions range, which have 38.5% ABV and come in 50cl bottles, comprises:

  • No 1 Rye & Wheat, with hints of wheat bread and notes of grain, meadow grass, home baking, fresh hay and warm breadcrumb.
  • No 2 Garlic & Pepper, providing warming notes of roasted garlic, hot pepper, wheat and rye bread.
  • No 3 Caraway, which is based on a rye distillate, with caraway and coriander added before the third distillation.
  • No 4 Honey & Allspice, which is spicy and refined with a pleasant hotness, with notes of honey, syrup, pepper and rye.

The following cocktails have been created for Emporia Brands by Mario la Pietra at The Luggage Room and Maurizio Palermo at Salvatore’s Bar at Playboy London:

Polugar’s Mother of all Bloody Marys

50ml Polugar No 2 Garlic and Pepper
150ml Fresh tomato juice.

Shake and strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon and celery stick.


30ml Polugar No 1 Rye & Wheat
30ml Campari
30ml Riserva Carlo Alberto Rosso red vermouth

Stir and strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Malo Krovi (“Little Blood”)

25ml Polugar No 2 Garlic & Pepper
25ml Spiced beetroot juice

Stir together Polugar, the beetroot juice and ice cubes. Pour into a Mmartini glass and garnish with a pickled gherkin.

Gimlet No 3

50ml Polugar No 3 Caraway
10ml Lime juice
10ml Lime cordial

Stir together and strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with fresh dill.


50ml Polugar No 4 Allspice & Honey
30ml Lemon juice
20ml Honey syrup
1 barspoon Ginger juice

Shake and strain into a Mmartini glass. Spray with Polugar No 1 infused with Lapsang Souchong tea.

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