Żubrówka (also known in English as Bison Grass Vodka) is a brand of dry herb-flavoured vodka distilled from rye, 40% alcohol (80 proof). The raw rectified spirit is then mixed with a tincture made of Hierochloe odorata, often called bison grass. This grass grows in the Białowieża Forest, which is partly in Poland and partly in Belarus. A blade of this grass can be found in every bottle of genuine Żubrówka, but this is only decorative and is not the reason for its particular taste, aroma, and yellowish colour. Its name comes from żubr or zubr, the Slavic word for the wisent, which are particularly fond of the herb. The flavour is unique, and can be described as having vanilla, coconut and almond-like qualities.


Żubrówka has been manufactured in the region of the contemporary Polish-Belarusian (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) border since the 16th century, and by 18th century was one of the favourite raw drinks of the nobility (szlachta) and the peasantry alike. In 1926 the Polish Polmos company in Brześć Litewski (now Belalco, Brest, Belarus) invented a method to mass produce Żubrówka, which was then copied by numerous companies worldwide, under a variety of brand names. The original distillery company in Brest (Belaco) still produces Brestskaya Zubrovka (Зуброўка), as do Russia (Зубровка), Lithuania (Stumbrinė), United States (Bison Vodka), Ukraine (Зубрiвка), Germany (Grasovka), the Czech Republic (Zubrovka), and many other countries. Currently the brand Żubrówka, its translations into other languages, and the grass inside a bottle of alcoholic beverage are registered by the Polmos Białystok company in Białystok, Poland.

Żubrówka in the United States

Because bison grass contains the toxic compound coumarin, which is prohibited as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration, importing of Żubrówka into the United States was banned in 1978 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. When produced according to traditional methods (between one and two kilograms of grass per thousand liters of alcohol), Żubrówka contains approximately 12 milligrams of coumarin per liter. In 1999, Polish distilleries introduced reformulated US-export versions of the product, sometimes using artificial flavors and colors, always with the emblematic blade of grass in every bottle, but "neutralized" and coumarin-free.

The trademark owner and owner of Polmos Bialystok - Central European Distribution Corporation (Nasdaq:CEDC), Poland's largest liquor distributor introduced the brand to the United States in 2007.


Żubrówka is usually served pure and chilled, mixed with apple juice (a drink known in Polish as tatanka or szarlotka, in the UK as a frisky bison, and in the US as a Polish kiss), or over vanilla ice cream.


External links

  • Belalco — The official site of the Brest Distillery Company
  • Zubrowka.net — The official site for Bison Grass Vodka
  • Polmos Białystok — The official site of Polmos Białystok
  • Grasovka — The official site of Grasovka

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