History of RUE “Minsk Kristall”

Three-Century History of development and improvement of distillery production in Belarus.

120 years ago, in 1893, manufacturers, brothers Yankel and Zelman Rakovshchiks, established a distillery, namely, a yeast brewery and alcohol distillery in Nizhne-Lyakhovskaya Street (presently Oktyabrskaya St.) in the town of Minsk by the Svisloch river from which more than one hundred-year history of RUE “Minsk Kristall” started.

It began from installation of a 5 h.p steam plant, fermentation vats, stills and employment of two dozens of workers who produced round-a-clock dry yeast and grain alcohol for an amount of 89 thousand rubles.

In early XX century, the distillery was a member of the monopolistic association of yeast brewery and alcohol distillery owners of the North-Western Region During the distillery refurbishment in 1910, an electric generator, a 50 h.p. steam engine, a 75 h p locomobile and a 25 h.p. gas generator were installed at the distillery. By the 20-th anniversary of the distillery establishment, it already employed one hundred and fifty workers and manufactured products for an amount of 719 thousand rubles, and it turned into the most expensive industrial enterprise in Minsk in terms of technology intensiveness and the largest in the Belarusian alcohol distillation industry.

The WWI affected the distillery's performance. The brothers Rakovshchiks' premises nationalized by Bolsheviks were used to accommodate the public alcohol warehouse and vodka distillery, poorly mechanized without automation means and electric equipment which produced only 400 deciliters per shift. The distillery began gradually developing, improving and increasing capacities when the Government adopted a resolution on resumption of production of alcoholic beverages in the USSR in 1924. In 1925 the distillery was converted into a Spirit and Vodka Distillery and in 1937 - into an Alcoholic Beverage Distillery which used standardized recipes andassortments of Soviet vodkas.

The boom of industrial development in Belarus in the post-WWII years provided a new impetus for further distillery's progress. The production of vodka and liquors has been considerably increasing from year to year: from 197,8 thousand deciliters in 1945 to 379,0 thousand deciliters in1950

In 1948, the distillery began implementing the dynamic method of charcoal treatment, modernized sand and quartz filters instead of ceramic filters and more efficient water softening techniques to improve vodka quality.

In the 50s, the distillery's management focused its efforts on maintaining the world prestige of Russian vodka and on work mechanization and automation.

This resulted in installation of automatic bottling lines, new pressure and finishing tanks, bottle washing machines that allowed the share of mechanized labor to be increased by 40% and the output of 1,000 deciliters per shift to be reached by 1960. At that time, the distillery began commercial production of rectified spirit, inclusive the super-purified one, and vodkas of new grades based on it, such as Moskovskaya Osobaya - gold medal winner of the 1953 Exhibition in Bern - and Stolichnaya which was successfully promoted to the international market. Specifically in the mid 60s, the store shelves were furnished with attractive bottles and shtoff bottles of glass, ceramics and porcelain, a mass production of souvenir products was launched and the range of high-grade drinks was significantly expanded: Belovezhskaya, Belovezhskayay Osobaya, Letni Desert, Vecherny Desert, Limonny Desert, Belorusskaya Garelka, Balorusskaya Nalivka and so forth. The bottling lines turned out 1,350 deciliters per shift by the beginning of the 70s.

Starting from 1970, the distillery was renamed into Spirit and Vodka Integrated Distillery, and Minsk Production Association of Spirit and Alcoholic Beverage industry to incorporate nine alcohol Distilleries was established based on it in 1976.

In the 1970s, an administrative building and a new building accommodating a crate and bottle section on two floors and a new wine warehouse on the third floor and in the basement of that building were constructed. The distillery started commercial production of Extra alcohol. 15% of products were manufactured with the State Quality Mark, while the remaining quantity was certified as the first quality grade.

During the years of perestroika, the enterprise faced multiple problems - while in general it managed to avoid dismantling of the alcohol beverage production facilities and complete refurbishment to change to production of soft drinks (subject to a notorious Decree of 15 May 1985 On Measures Aimed at Tightening Control Over Drinking and Alcoholism), Kristall still suffered a certain economic damage. Despite the above, in the 1980s, Kristall managed to bring its alcoholic beverage and wine production in compliance, with the world standards in terms of multiple parameters.

In July 1986, the Production Association of Spirit and Alcoholic Beverage Industry was renamed into Minsk Regional Production Association of Starch Industry to incorporate four distilleries, three starch factories and the head enterprise of Minsk Kristall Winery and Distillery.

By its 100-th jubilee, Kristall developed unmatched vodka Belaya Rus, new bitter brandy and unique vodka Kristall-100, which is produced by using an unparalleled "flint" technology.

In 2002, Minsk Kristall Winery and Distillery was reorganized into Production and Commerce Republican Unitary Enterprise “Minsk Kristall” (RUE “Minsk Kristall”).

Currently RUE “Minsk Kristall” is an enterprise featuring multiple lines of business with the advanced technologies and a powerful production and engineering potential, the closed cycle production flexibly responding to the market requirements and specializing in manufacture of vodkas, balsams, sweet liquors and bitter brandies, cognacs, liqueurs, brandies, gins, grape and fruit wines and drinking water.

The enterprise employs 770 employees. They form its principle capital.

Highly productive equipment of modern shops and laboratories is operated by skillful, knowledgeable, energetic and honest people - genuine professionals. From year to year, the enterprise efficiently improves its facilities and technology, increases output of traditional popular and new unique beverages realizing that specifically the supreme quality of ecologically pure natural raw materials used, inimitable recipes and unique technologies allow Kristall to efficiently compete with the best wineries and distilleries of Belarus, CIS countries and Western countries.

Products of RUE «Minsk Kristall» are well realized at the markets Russia, USA, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Vietnam, China, Slovakia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbajdgan.

Owing to high quality of natural ecologically pure raw materials, originality of components composition, uniqueness of preparation compounding and production technology, firm drinks of the enterprise "Minsk Kristall" become more and more popular and poses with a lot of Awards and Diplomas.

In total the enterprise RUE "Minsk Kristall" has more than 700 awards among which: 30 Grand prix, 17 Platinum Quality symbols, 227 gold awards, 128 silver, 52 bronze and 150 diplomas.

The enterprise is the winner of the Premium of the Government of the Republic of Belarus in the field of quality. Also RUE "Minsk Kristall" is awarded by Grand prix the “BRAND # 1” in the Republic of Belarus.

Priorities of the quality are connected with development and introduction of quality control system on the basis of international standards.

Since 2000 RUE «Minsk Kristall» works in accordance with the certificated system of a quality management (STB ISO 9001).

In 2003 the enterprise has certificated in National system of acknowledgement of conformity of the Republic of Belarus the system of ecological management (STB ISO 14001), being the third enterprise in the republic, which has received the given certificate, and the first among the food-processing industry enterprises.

In 2004 the control system of quality and safety of foodstuff on the basis of the analysis of risks and critical control points (system HACCP) was introduced and certificated at the enterprise.

In 2008 - a control system of labor safety (STB 18001) was introduced.

In 2009 the enterprise has received the certificate «Оrganic», confirming that production of vodkas and special vodkas at RUE «Minsk Kristall» satisfy the requirements of European Legislation ЕU 2092/91.

Awards and the certificates received by RUE "Minsk Kristall", testify to recognition of high quality of products at the republican and international markets, this is undoubtedly lifts prestige of the enterprise, raises its competitiveness and promotes growth of sales.