Russians have started drinking less vodka
Of all the alcohol sold to the public in January 2015, the share of vodka and other spirits dropped from 44.4 percent to 41.5 percent, when compared with consumption in January 2014, according to the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat). The total share of beer, meanwhile, rose from 33.7 percent to 40 percent.
In January, total sales of vodka, liqueurs, and spirits fell by 7.4 percent to 9.6 million decaliters (25.4 million gallons), while sales of beer rose by 5.4 percent to 73 million decaliters (192.9 million gallons).
Sales of cognac in January were down to 4 percent of all alcohol consumption, amounting to 900,000 decaliters (2.4 million gallons), 1.9 percent less than in January 2014.
According to Rosstat, Russians have started drinking more wine. The share of wine sales (excluding champagne and sparkling wines) was 8.9 percent of all alcohol purchases, which is .7 percent higher than a year before. Russians bought a total 6.7 million decaliters (17.8 million gallons)—6.7 percent more than in January 2014.
Beginning on February 1, 2015, Russia for the first time since 2009 lowered the legally mandated minimum price for vodka and other spirits higher than 28 alc/vol (56 proof). The minimum price for half a liter of such alcohol was reduced by about $1, to 185 rubles (about $3).
In December 2014, Vladimir Putin spoke out against raising prices on alcohol, saying higher prices would only stimulate illegal production.