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Founded in 1864 by Pyotr Smirnov, and originally using his last name, Smirnoff Vodka is the most recognised vodka brand in the world.Smirnov began distilling vodka in his Moscow based distillery in the early 1860s, later pioneering filtration using charcoal during the 1870s. By the mid 1880s, Smirnov had become the popular vodka brand in Russia. His son, Vladimir, inherited the brand upon his father’s death in 1898, but 6 years later was forced to sell it when the Tsar nationalised the vodka industry.

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Vladimir was not deterred, and three years later opened a distillery in Istanbul (then called Constantinople), moving it in 1924 to Lviv, Ukraine (then called Lwow), and named the vodka Smirnoff. A second distillery was opened in Paris a year later, however the company was a fraction of it’s size prior to 1904.