Pernod Ricard, the parent company of Jameson Irish whiskey, is apparently pulling a U-turn on returning to exporting to Russia.
Pernod Ricard, which acquired Jameson manufacturer Irish Distillers in 1998, announced in March 2022 that it had suspended sales in Russia until further notice in light of the war in Ukraine.
However, the company drew criticism in recent days after it quietly moved to resume exports of the popular Irish whiskey to Russia. The company told the Irish Examiner that it was supplying stocks of spirits to Russia “to a minimum level that permits us to sustain the Pernod Ricard distribution subsidiary, ensuring the welfare of our local team” and avoid an accusation of ‘fraudulent bankruptcy’ and potential criminal prosecution of their employees in Russia.
In light of the criticism, the French spirits company said in an “update on Russia” on Thursday, April 27 that is “stopping the export of our international brands while ensuring the welfare and safety of our team, considering the local legal constraints.”
At the time of publication on Friday, April 28, Jameson Irish whiskey was still listed on Pernod Ricard’s website as one of its brands available in Russia.
The group Ukrainian Action in Ireland had staged a protest against the resumption of exports to Russia outside the headquarters of Irish Distillers and parent company Pernod Ricard in Dublin on Thursday.
Нещодавно стало відомо про рішення відновити експорт віскі Jameson до росії. Тому сьогодні ми, разом із з нашими...Posted by Ukrainian Action in Ireland on Thursday, April 27, 2023
Anatoliy Prymakov, co-founder of Ukrainian Action Ireland, told RTE News: "By doing business in Russia. Irish Distillers will sponsor Russia's war machine and support the murder of Ukrainians.
"No amount of money can pay for human lives and it is unfortunate that Irish Distillers are ready to be willing contributors to Russia's war, consequences of which will have a generational impact on Ukraine, Ireland, and the world."
A tarnished reputation @jamesonwhiskey, practicing Profit before Compassion. https://t.co/PNE1aUi8T5— Ukrainian Action in Ireland (@UkrainianAction) April 27, 2023
Prymakov’s sentiments were echoed by Tipperary-based Fine Gael Senator Garrett Ahearn, who told the Irish Examiner that the resumption of Irish exports to Russia "hurts our image internationally.
“It needs to be reversed and time called on exporting Jameson to Putin’s Russia.”
Ahearn continued: “Pernod Richard was forced to halt exports of Absolut vodka following a rightful outcry from the public and threats of a boycott in Sweden, the liquor’s home country.
“Diageo, which owns Guinness and many other Irish drinks brands, stopped exporting and selling products to Russia when the invasion began last year, which is the right thing to do."
On Friday, Prymakov cautiously welcomed Pernod Ricard's U-turn, telling the Irish Examiner: “It looks like the message has landed. We will of course wait for the official confirmation, but it is good to see that they seem to understand the public opinion and they seem to be listening to the public opinion."
Prymakov noted: “We don’t really want to get into confrontational relationships with any brand, we just want to highlight to them that this is a bad decision, and the public feel that it’s a bad decision."