Russia's vodka historian sparks controversy

Historians in the News

Historians are known to specialize in narrow, often esoteric realms of academia. Alexander Nikishin’s specialty may on the surface prove to be more popular than others, but he has found difficulty generating interest or support.

Nikishin is a historian of vodka, and the founder of a museum dedicated to the spirit.

Based at the Kristall distillery, the National Vodka Museum has been in operation since 2006, and consists of Nikishin’s personal collection of more than 50,000 items connected with the history of Russian vodka....

“It’s not something alien and evil like some would think,” Nikishin said. “It’s part of a huge agricultural system – a huge part of the grain harvest would be lost if we didn’t make it into spirit.”

Not everyone appreciates Nikishin’s efforts at education and enlightenment. Women whose husbands drink heavily, for example, consider such museums or serious discussions about the subject unnecessary, but Nikishin takes exception to the equation of vodka consumption with alcoholism....

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