- See msg 47244 for 'Russian Vodka'
It was pointed out the difficulty in establishing a recorded date for actual distilling on Russian soil. The book 'Bread and Salt' by Smith R.E.F. & Christian D.,1984, has some useful information:
"In the mid-sixteenth century "Foreigners continued to mention kvas, beer or mead, but not spirits."
"Overall, therefore, there seems little doubt that even in Moscow spirits had not become a standard everyday drink for the mass of the population in the late sixteenth century.
It is in the late sixteenth century that there is the first evidence for spirits produced in Russia. In 1588 a fine of 4 rubles was exacted in the St Joseph monastery, Volokolamsk, from those who had distilled its grain."
"A German work on the subject (Das Neuwe Distilier Buoch) printed in Strasbourg in 1537, was the basis for up to 10 manuscripts on distillation produced in Russia in the late sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. These were specialist works, not intended for or achieving popular levels."
Even in 17th century Ukraine, pot stills were small, producing 12litres of alcohol a day and only in the late 18th century were imported stills producing 50-300litres/day.
Up to 1862 Russia had a feudal economy. Distilling was inefficient with 95% wastage of raw material due to free serf labor and free fire wood. A 1200litre mash containing 350kg grain produced only 20-30litres of top quality distilled alcohol.