According to a press release from the governor’s office, only two brands of Russian liquor, Russian Standard and Hammer + Sickle, sold in the state are Russian-made. All other Russian-branded spirits sold by Maine’s liquor stores are made by distilleries not located in Russia.
Maine is one of 17 states in the nation that controls the wholesale sale of liquor. Maine law gives the State Liquor and Lottery Commission authority to determine what liquor brands are available for retailers to sell. But the liquor commission “cannot require the removal of spirits once they have made their way to store shelves.”
Mills urged the liquor commission, which must vote to delist a product, to act as soon as possible.
“Delisting will prevent any additional Russian-made spirits from making their way to Maine retail and restaurant shelves until further notice. Governor Mills also asked all Maine spirits retailers and restaurants to remove Russian-made spirits from their shelves.”
Maine is not the first New England state to take steps to stop the sale of Russian spirits. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed an executive order on February 26 ordering the state’s liquor and wine outlets to take Russian-made and Russian-branded spirits off the shelves.
Ohio, Utah, and Pennsylvania have also taken steps to remove Russian-branded spirits from store shelves.
On the morning of February 28, former governor Paul LePage, who is running for governor in 2022, called for a ban of Russian-made spirits in Maine’s liquor stores. LePage’s call for a ban came hours before the release of Mills’ proclamation.