Snow Queen Vodka was launched in 2005. Within a year it had won an impressive array of awards and, to this day, consistently earns acclaim at industry tastings.
“The key is the quality of the raw materials used in the manufacturing process,” says Gulnida “and our aim is to supply our customers with the best vodka in the world.”
Snow Queen is made using only the finest organic wheat, sourced from the rich soils of Kazakhstan in the Steppes. The purest sand-filtered artesian spring water and birch charcoal from Kazakh forests are also used in the production process.
Unlike other vodkas it is distilled five times, giving it a clean, fresh taste.
Since vodka is drunk neat in Kazakhstan, where it is produced, the flavour is judged on that basis alone. To the nose the fragrance is delicate and lightly perfumed with hints of spice, aniseed and a distinctive freshness. To the palate it has a luxurious, silky texture, with a creaminess that opens up with aniseed, a hint of vanilla, and luscious sweetness balanced by underlying grainy dryness.
“I enjoy my Snow Queen ice-cold and neat,” says Gulnida. “Snow Queen is perfect served with blinis and caviar, and in an ideal world enjoyed with fine food, music and art.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, due to uncertainty regarding what new laws would be put in place many professionals left Kazakhstan.
“Most distilleries finished and closed down as people were leaving the country,” says Gulnida. “This led to alcohol being produced at home and as a consequence, there were many deaths, due to poor quality control. Evoeniy Park, my husband at the time and now business partner, and I set up Snow Queen for healthy alcohol.
“We based the factory in the most unemployed area of Kazakhstan bringing employment back to the area. Evoeniy was a trained engineer and chemist. As well as producing Snow Queen he is now responsible for producing, 70 per cent of all alcohol produced in Kazakhstan.
“ We felt the bottle design was of particular relevance. It was thought to be bad for women to drink vodka in the Soviet Union so we designed a tall slim elegant bottle with a fairytale around the name to attract mixed clientele.”
Gulnida’s upbringing was a happy spiritual one in Kyrgyzstan. “I grew up enjoying nature,” she says. “My father was a Kurdish Muslim; he grew up an orphan on the streets and my mother was Russian and an orthodox Christian. We had a large family; I was one of five, with three brothers and a sister, and I was looked after and educated by all of them. By the age of four, I was reading fluently and at seven I was in the 3rd grade. I was way ahead of my school companions. From 11 years – 14 I was representing the school in public speaking and setting up deals for sponsorship for the school fund.
“If you worked hard at school, teachers would give you extra hours of tuition and in return, it was patriotic to work for them. Although tough at the time this was a great grounding for my career – hard work certainly pays off in more ways than one. By the time I left school, I was exceptionally good at Maths and had a great business head.
“I went to university in Kyrgyzstan and left with a degree in Building Economy. I worked for a government building company for two years and met my ex-husband. It was love at first sight and we married within three days of the meeting. Evoeniy was keen for me to develop my career so I went to a second university in USSR where I earned a degree in Criminal Law.