V-One Vodka Aiding Ukraine

Western Mass. vodka maker heading to Poland to aid Ukrainian refugees

Updated: Mar. 03, 2022, 4:36 p.m. | Published: Mar. 03, 2022, 4:36 p.m.

Paul Kozub, V-One Vodka
V-one Vodka founder Paul Kozub poses with the brand’s “Farm To Glass” distillery in Kamień, Poland. Kozub is going to Poland this weekend to support Ukrainian refugees. (Photo Provided)

By Ron Chimelis | rchimelis@repub.com

HADLEY — Paul Kozub said his conscience and his commitment to the people of Eastern Europe made the decision for him.

“I feel I have to go Poland,” said Kozub, whose company, Valley Vodka Inc., will donate $1 for every bottle sold in March to assist refugeees from war-torn Ukraine. 

Valley Vodka, headquartered in Hadley, is the maker of V-One Vodka, an award-winning brand that Kozub created. He is expected to arrive at the V-One distillery in Kamien, Poland on Sunday.

The distillery is located about two hours from the Ukraine border, where refugees have been crossing the border in droves.

“I feel such a connection to Eastern Europe. This will be my 60th trip in 17 years, but only my second in the last year and a half,” Kozub said. “I’m overdue. I used to go three or four times a year, but then COVID-19 slowed us down. My last trip was in June of 2021.”

He is not only going to the distillery he owns with a partner, but bringing $5,000 of his own money to support the refugees pouring over the border from war-torn Ukraine. The current exchange rate for currency will work favorably, he said.

“The exchange rate is usually about 3-to-1. But with all that’s been going on, it’s up to around 4-to-1, so my money will be worth 25% more,” Kozub said.

Announcement of his support has been posted on Facebook and other social media outlets. It was not a hasty decision, and the region’s volatility gave Kozub pause.

“I have a wife and four children under 8. I began to think that maybe I shouldn’t go. But I have to go,” he said.

”My life was forever changed for the better when I made my first trip to Eastern Poland 17 years ago to start my craft vodka business. In 2019, I purchased a distillery in Kamień, just a few hours from the Ukrainian border. I feel compelled to do something to help the people of Ukraine.

Kozub owns 51% of the distillery in Kamien. In addition to visiting the plant, he will travel to the Ukraine-Poland border to meet directly with refugees.

His partner in the Kamien distillery has a cousin near the border, where long lines of refugees have been reported. Altogether, Kozub will be in Poland for a week.

“I hear there’s been something like a half a million immigrants crossing,” he said.

Kamień is 219 miles (352 kilometers) southeast of Warsaw.

V-One Vodka has been crafting small batch vodka in Eastern Poland since 2005. It was the first craft vodka made from 100% spelt, a type of grain related to wheat, barley and rye.

It was won several awards and competitions and launched six successful flavors since 2012.

“We’re launching a new flavor, so I was ready to return to Kamien,” Kozub said. “Now, with what has been happening, I feel I have to go.”