I was born in Kyiv before moving to the UK when I was four. Despite growing up in London, I’ve maintained close ties to Ukraine and its rich culture throughout my life. My father opened Ukraine’s first pub, O’Brien’s, in the mid-nineties, so I was immersed in the country’s intriguing food and beverage scene from a young age.
I started a career in financial communications after graduating from university, but always knew that I wanted to work in the drinks industry. I was intrigued by the importance of vodka within Ukrainian culture, the lack of Ukrainian presence in the UK and European markets and also how inaccurate the UK’s perception of the spirit was.
As the years went on I became increasingly inspired to produce a superior Ukrainian vodka that would not only celebrate my roots, but also give me a platform to educate the UK about vodka’s cultural significance in Ukraine, and to share some of Ukraine’s traditions, too. I decided to take the plunge and quit my job in 2010 and I went on to complete a course at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, where I conducted the market feasibility for the vodka. I identified a gap in Europe’s spirits market for not only a premium Ukrainian vodka, but a triple-grain vodka that was flavourful and smooth overall, and with that, the idea for Dima’s was born.
I set out with the vision to showcase Ukraine’s world-class grain production and distilling craftsmanship, and to create a craft spirit that challenged the perception of vodka’s origins and base ingredients. Ukraine has a rich supersoil called ‘chernozem’ which provides the optimum conditions for the growth of rye, wheat and barley, the three grains from which Dima’s Vodka is made. After an exciting journey featuring multiple focus groups in both Ukraine and England, and 38 different flavour combinations in a 125-year-old distillery in Zhytomyr, just outside Kyiv, our Dima’s formula was perfected. We patented the recipe in 2018, before launching to market in 2020.
I was inspired to produce a superior Ukrainian vodka that would not only celebrate my roots, but give me a platform to educate the UK about vodka in Ukraine
Launching a drinks brand in a hospitality lockdown was not without its challenges, but Dima’s built an organic, loyal community and influential industry following which continues to grow to this day. Just a month ago we won Gold in the Eastern European category in the Vodka Masters at The Spirits Business, and we’re always ready to collaborate and create likeminded brand partnerships with the movers and shakers of the drinks’ scene. Our recent bottled cocktail collaboration with The Gibson bar was a great success, and we look forward to more things to come.