1833 saw Vyatka merchants launching their distillery business using foodstuffs and rectifiers in an economically stable Urzhum county of Vyatka Governorate.
This method for manufacture of pure ethyl alcohol is now considered conventional; then it was, as we today would say, an innovative technology adopted from European manufacturers. The predominant method in Russia of that time was rye wine production by simple distillation. Later, in 1895, this alcohol production method was prohibited.
Meanwhile, Royka Distillery built in the same 1833 in the vicinity of Lazarevo village, Urzhum county, Vyatka Governorate, was already getting ready to start bottling in glass, whereas everywhere else at that time vodka was sold by buckets.
Royka Distillery was founded by Collegiate Secretary Lazar Pavlovich Matveev on his property where there was all that was required for launching such an enterprise, i.e. plough land, timber for construction and heating, clear spring water in abundance and cheap labor. Among the workers at the distillery were only men as almost all the operations required hard manual labor. In 1896 practically all wooden structures of the distillery were destroyed by fire. However, as early as the next year, 1897, brick construction at the distillery was completed. The “new” distillery turned out to surpass the old one in performance; new equipment was installed including a steam engine to replace the earlier horse drive, new pumps for feeding raw materials and waters, capacity was increased. In 1898 Royka Distillery manufactured 176 000 buckets of wine as compared to 100 000 buckets in 1840. In 1897 the distillery began manufacturing a yearly amount of 999 buckets of liqueurs and bitters. The manager procured the relevant raw materials (honey, berries, dried flowers, etc) in Urzhum county and the nearby Malmyzh county of Vyatka Governorate. Vodka and bitters were bottled in brand-labeled bottles; the labels read: “Alcohol of L.P. Matveev’s Widow and Heirs, Co., Lazarevo village, Vyatka Governorate”. The good quality of the products was confirmed by 2 medals. The distillery used mostly grains for alcohol. Only high quality grain was selected as an input material as the reference point for alcohol yield was not starch content but a pood (16 kg) of flour. Raw materials for production were procured with extra care both by Matveev Company and in later times, it being the key parameter of financial stability and performance at the distillery.
Royka Distillery managed to survive and keep its assets through the turbulent World War I and Civil War times. After 1921 restoration of buildings and equipment was commenced. In 1925 Royka Distillery again started to manufacture alcohol which was then delivered to Urzhum Distillery on horse-drawn carts. During that time Urzhum Distillery used Royka alcohol to produce standard 38 degree rye wine, table 40 degree rye wine and best quality 43 rye wine. The products were bottled in a range of glassware starting from 1 quarter to 1/200 of a bucket and sold in governmental shops in Vyatka Governorate and Mari El. The distillery employees also worked as shop assistants.
Just as many years ago, Urzhum Distillery delivers inexpensive products of good quality, with the only difference that it now has over 50 varieties of products in its price list, including as many as over 14 bitters only. As if heeding the call for elimination of alcohol surrogates made back in the 19th century by the Emperor Alexander III and his minister Sergei Witte, the distillery still produces inexpensive but quality beverages.
Merged with Royka Distillery, Urzhum Distillery has become a vertically integrated enterprise to preserve the traditions inherited from the two oldest beverage factories since 1833, such as stringent quality control of raw materials, the use of self-grown high quality grain, crystal clear water from a 70 meter deep well and natural components for their bitters (honey, flowers, berries) picked only in the local forests far from smoke-puffing factories. Almost two centuries after, ethyl alcohol is manufactured from food-grade materials (Urzhum Distillery uses only rye grown on their own farming lands) in a continuous and fully automatic process. Quality control is compulsory for all process stages with all approved regulations strictly observed. QC inspectors use state-of-the-art control instrumentation such as chromatographs for quick scanning of alcohol for practically all micro contaminants, mathematical processing of the alcohol produced, more time-effective and accurate QC analysis. Rectification comprises several stages during which the alcohol is concentrated to remove a portion of contaminants. The resulting product is rectified (purified) alcohol in conformity to GOST R 51652 – 2000. The current rectification technology makes it possible to produce alcohol with much smaller contaminant content as is prescribed by GOST.
Urzhum Distillery JSC manufactures alcohol in totally sufficient quantity for its liquor and alcohol-based juice production needs.
Just as in its formative years, the most valuable factory asset is people. Several generations of Khramovs, Petrins, Ahmatgaleevs-Gabitovs, Pirogovs-Vakhrushevs, Kokorins, Sergeevs, Sabirovs and countless others have been working for Urzhum Distillery for many decades. Their input helps the factory to uphold its traditions and maintain high quality of their products, the pride of all Kirov region, the deserved winner of many accolades and customer loyalty. Urzhum Distillery JSC produces two varieties of alcohol: best quality pure alcohol and Lux alcohol. It is a natural and eco-friendly product guaranteed to be free from genetically modified components. Such approach won a deserved recognition among fellow experts in the industry which has been confirmed for several years by gold medals at the International Spirit Competition. The factory boasts nearly 500 various awards and certificates as of this day.