The history of Warsaw Vodka Factory Konseser, so closely related to the latest history of Warsaw and the country, is our pride and motivation to work so that our brand’s products continue to delight.

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The history of Warsaw Vodka Factory Konseser, so closely related to the latest history of Warsaw and the country, is our pride and motivation to work so that our brand's products continue to delight and combine old years with modern times...


Vodka on the outskirts of the city

The area on which the buildings of the spirits factory were erected in 1897, stretching between Ząbkowska, Markowska, Białostocka and Nieporęcka Streets, became part of Warsaw only in 1889. Previously, it was separated from Praga by the 18th-century Lubomirski embankment. This area, located near the town’s tollgates called Ząbków, belonged to a Jewish merchant and financier, Szmul Jakubowicz, known as Zbytkower – the banker of King Stanisław August Poniatowski. From his name came the name of these areas, used to this day: Szmulki. The grandson of Szmul Jakubowicz sold Szmulowizna to the Brühl family. They, in turn, divided it into building plots. The vodka factory was built on land bought in 1895 from Emil Brühl. It was not a safe neighborhood then, inhabited by the lumpenproletariat and petty criminals. The price was therefore not high and amounted to about 20 kopecks per square cubit.


The beginnings of Koneser. The building of the Boiler House during construction in 1897


Poles clean, Russians produce

The new buildings of the vodka factory were built in 1895-1897. The five-hectare plot purchased from Brühl had the great advantage of being located in the vicinity of a railway line, from which a siding could be led to the plant. There are two businesses on the property. Most of the area was occupied by a state-owned company: Warsaw Treasury Wine Storehouse (Warszawskij Kazionnyj Winnyj Skład). It belonged to the Russian Spirits Monopoly. A much smaller part of the plot was developed by the private Warsaw Rectification (Rektfikacja Warszawska), established by the Warsaw Society for the Purification and Sale of Spirit. Landowners and financiers (F. Czacki, S. Kronenberg, T. Plater, A. Wielowieyski and M. Wydżga) sat on the management board of the company.

A page from the Warsaw Courier, September 15, 1897.

Both companies operated in close symbiosis. Rectification purified the spirit, which was delivered to the plant from local distilleries in the form of raw spirit, while Monopol produced vodka from it. The buildings of both factories with red brick facades were built in the spirit of neo-Gothic architecture, which was the canon of Russian industrial construction at that time. An excellent example of this is the guardhouse, which has survived to this day, i.e. a characteristic pavilion at the gate from Ząbkowska Street. With its Gothic arches, pointed gables and turrets with slender cupolas topped with wrought iron spiers, it almost resembles a miniature of a medieval castle. As the most recognizable element of the entire plant, it was included in the logotype of the bottling plant and is still visible on it today.

In the area of the plant, apart from industrial buildings, there were also warehouses, a boiler room, workshops, as well as residential buildings and even a school.

At the end of the 19th century, production started in full swing. The plants were equipped with their own power generating units and deep wells. The first artesian well in Warsaw was opened in the filtration building located along Ząbkowska Street. It was 700 feet deep, and water gushed from it several meters into the air.

Warsaw Vodka Factory Koneser was one of the first electrified factories in the capital and was one of the most technologically advanced production plants in Warsaw. It was equipped with a number of auxiliary devices, such as: boilers and steam machines for water and spirit, filter batteries, devices for automatic mixing and bottling, hydraulic and manual lifts, as well as an internal system of iron railways. A railway siding was connected to the plant from the nearby railway line from the Wileński Railway Station (at that time, the Petersburski Railway Station).

The high degree of technical progress of the factory is evidenced by the commitment of the owners of Rektfikacja Warszawska to clean one million buckets of spirit a year. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Warsaw treasury warehouse was already one of the largest in the Russian Empire. In 1905, its turnover was about one million rubles, and in 1911 already 2.5 million rubles. This forced an increase in the production of the Polish part of the plant (from 1 million to 2.5 million buckets of high-proof alcohol) and an increase in the share capital to PLN 900,000. rubles. Vodka was literally flowing in streams!


Beginning of construction. The main rectification building in 1897.

World War I

A bottle a day for each soldier

Initially, alcohols from Koneser were sold almost exclusively in Warsaw, where they enjoyed considerable popularity. After the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Koneser supplied vodka mainly to the Russian garrison stationed in Warsaw, and each tsarist soldier in combat conditions was entitled to one bottle of strong vodka a day. At that time, the distillery produced over 12 million buckets of vodka a year. There was no problem with the sale.


Buildings of the Warsaw Rectification before the outbreak of World War I.

World War I

Praga drunk to the core

Polish-Russian cooperation in the production of vodka ended in 1915. On August 10, when the Germans were approaching Warsaw, the retreating Russian soldiers were ordered to destroy the alcohol stocks gathered at Ząbkowska Street. They poured 10 million liters of vodka directly onto the streets. “In Monopoly on Ząbkowska Street, in Praga, when booze was poured from huge cisterns, people threw themselves into the gutters through which the water was flowing, with various vessels, even buckets, to get as much of it as possible. There were also those who fell to the ground to drink gołda straight from the gutters. In a few minutes the whole street was drunk to the ground.” – wrote Wiesław Wiernicki in the book “Those were pubs”. And it must be added that vodka flowed down the gutters for several days. According to the chronicles, during this “drunk week” the whole of Praga flocked to Ząbkowska Street and drew from the free spring of Warsaw vodka from Koneser as much as anyone could. After the occupation of Warsaw by the Germans, the plant was soon launched by National Distillery Company (Krajowa Spółka Gorzelnicza) and started production under the supervision of the new occupant. When in 1918 the Germans left Warsaw, they did not pour vodka into the street…


A poster advertising the Warsaw Rectification products from the first years after regaining independence

Interwar period

Monopoly on Ząbkowska Street

Shortly after Poland regained independence, in 1919, the vodka factory became part of the State Spirits Monopoly. Although both plants at Ząbkowska Street used a common name – Spirit Rectification and Vodka Factory No. 1 (Rektfikacja Spirytusu i Wytwórnia Wódek nr 1), they remained separate companies. Rectification was still in private hands. In 1923, two buildings on the premises of the factory were occupied by the State Mint. Coins, medals, badges and seals were struck here.


The factory on Ząbkowska Street in the first years of the Second Polish Republic

Interwar period

Wyborowa, Luksusowa, Żytnia, Siwucha

The interwar period was the heyday of the factory at Ząbkowska. At that time, the plant employed over 400 people, and the production capacity reached a quarter of a million bottles of alcohol per day.

In 1928, the value of sales reached PLN 2.7 million. A year earlier, in 1927, the production of Wyborowa vodka began. “In these days, the management of the state spirits monopoly, after long-term laboratory tests, releases “Wyborowa” vodka with a strength of 45% on the market. This vodka, triple purified, contains almost no so-called coffee beans, which are the most harmful substance in alcoholic beverages” – wrote the press.

In 1928 Luksusowa, the most expensive potato vodka on the market, was launched. In addition, large quantities of Żytnia vodka, cheaper Siwucha, flavored vodkas, including, for example, Żubrówka, and denatured alcohol were produced.

In the production process, oligocene water was used, taken from one of the first intakes in Warsaw, from a depth of 260 meters. In the interwar years, new railway sidings and turntables for trains were built, which were used to transport the valued Warsaw spirits throughout the country.

Work on an automatic alcohol dispenser installed in Koneser. Year 1927.

Interwar period


In 1936, the State Spirits Monopoly (Państwowy Monopol Spirytusowy) for PLN 127,650. formally bought the Warsaw Rectification Company (Rektfikacja Warszawska), previously leased from private hands, and merged it with the previously purchased Vodka Factory (Wytwórnia Wódek). The entire company is thus finally nationalized and no one calls it otherwise than Monopoly.


The upper part of the filters for sipping vodka. Year 1928.

German occupation

Vodka for freedom

The dynamic development of the plant was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. In September 1939, the plant suffered minor damage as a result of bombing. After the occupation of Warsaw by the Germans, the vodka factory was subordinated to the General Directorate of Monopolies in the General Government. The function of its manager was assigned by the occupiers to Dr. Eng. Wilhelm Horak – Czech from Silesia. He turned out to be an honest man who cared about his employees. When one of them was detained by the Gestapo, he released them, paying the Germans with crates of vodka. He wrote receipts for the collection of vodka from the warehouse to employees in the most difficult situation.


A gate with a characteristic Guardhouse during the German occupation. Year 1940.

End of World War II

To Żyrardów and back

In 1944, the already gradually reduced production is finally stopped. At the end of the war, the factory suffered severely. In July 1944, the Germans blew up some of the buildings on the side of Ząbkowska Street – the bottle warehouse, a fragment of the filtration building, and part of the residential building at 33 Ząbkowska Street. The Mint was also seriously damaged. Most of the equipment was destroyed or looted. After the capture of Warsaw’s Praga by the Red Army in September 1944, the vodka factory was evacuated and started operating in Żyrardów. After returning to Warsaw and securing the surviving property by former employees, the activity was resumed in 1944. First daily production – 50 cases of vodka.


A group of workers in front of a badly damaged factory building. Year 1945.

Post-war period


From 1946, the plant was subordinated to the Central Board of the Spirits Industry (Centralny Zarząd Przemysłu Spirytusowego). Reconstruction proceeded quickly, but only part of the buildings were rebuilt in their pre-war shape. – among others a wing of the filtration building and a bottle warehouse. The new buildings erected at the turn of the 1940s and 1950s differed in style and level of architecture from the buildings from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1947, the reconstruction was completed and production started in full swing.


The bottom of the filters for sipping vodka. Around 1928.


The spell of the People’s Republic

In 1966, the production plant operating since 1951 under the name of Warszawskie Zakłady Przemysłu Spirytusowego produced several types of pure vodka, including the iconic Czysta with a red card, Wyborowa, Luksusowa and Żytnia. It produced over 20 flavored vodkas: Aksamit, Angielska Gorzka (English Bitter vodka), Cytrynowa Wytrawna (Dry Lemon Vodka), Jałowcówka (Juniper vodka), Likier Cytrynowy (Lemon Liqueur ), Likier miętowy (Mint Liqueur), Miętówka (Mint vodka), Myśliwska (Hunting vodka), Orzechówka (Hazelnut vodka), Pieprzówka (Pepper vodka), Pomarańczowa Biała  (Orange White), Pomarańczowa Słodka (Sweet Orange), Pomarańczowa Wytawna (Dry Orange), Porterówka, Ratafia Podlaska, Śliwówka Podlaska (Plum vodka), Wiśniówka Słodka (Sweet Cherry), Wiśniowka Wytrawna (Dry Cherry), Żołądkowa Gorzka (Bitter vodka), Żubrówka (Bison Grass Vodka) and Kryształ (Cristal Vodka).

Characteristic labels of pure vodka produced in Warsaw - iconic Vodka with a red card in the People's Republic of Poland.


No more spirit rectification!

In 1970, the purification of alcohol was stopped at Ząbkowska Street. This was done in rectification columns located in the highest building of the plant, previously belonging to the Warsaw Rectification. The process was accompanied by smoke from a coal boiler room. Complaints from local residents led to the closure of this part of the plant. Since then, spirit for vodka production has been supplied from other distilleries.


A plaque commemorating the start and end dates of spirit rectification at the Koneser factory.

A history curiosity

How to get alcohol?

In his memoirs from the early 1970s, Ryszard Osiński, a resident of Ząbkowska Street, tells how, when going for a walk with his girlfriend, every day at 8.00 sharp he would come across a bottle of spirit lying on the lawn just behind the Koneser fence. Apparently, one of the employees threw it over the fence every day for himself or thirsty colleagues. In turn, a well-known opera singer, Wiesław Ochman, who lived in Praga as a child, recalls how his neighbor who worked in Koneser used to transport vodka in a bicycle frame. Pre-war chronicles mention two thieves who drove up to the studio’s headquarters in a horse-drawn carriage with two huge balloons, to which a partner employed in Koneser poured vodka from the warehouse on the second floor with a hose. So times have changed, but the ingenuity of amateurs of free interest was amazing.

The gate of the Warsaw Spirits Industry Plant. Year 1975.

The time of political transformations

Stagnation, modernization, crisis

The label, operating since the mid-1970s under the name of the “Polmos” union, employed in the 1980s about 1.2 thousand people. employees. At the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, large state funds were pumped into the modernization of the factory, whose name was finally changed to Warszawska Wytwórnia Wódek (Warsaw Vodka Factory) “Koneser”. Production lines imported from abroad were placed in the filtration building – three fully automatic, one semi-automatic. Inside the warehouse, 10 m high steel tanks for storing purified spirit were placed. Their total capacity was 4 million liters. The investments were of little use, because after 1990, in the era of political transformation, the plant began to go through a serious crisis.


Commemorative medals minted on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Warsaw vodka distillery. 1987.


Hard times

In the 1990s, Koneser’s situation continued to deteriorate. In 1991, after the disintegration of Polmos structures, Koneser began to introduce its own recipes, such brands as pure vodkas appeared: Metropolis, Legenda, Warszawska, Planet, Zagłoba, Koneser (also in flavors – cranberry and forest fruit), Targowa, Bycza , flavored vodkas: Oleńka, Kniejówka, Maximus, Winiak Klubowy was still produced. The company offered spirits made of potatoes and cereals, Metropolis vodka was a mixture of cereals and potatoes. In 1999, the connoisseur bought the exclusive rights to several Polmos-owned brands, including Winiak Klubowy and Stołeczna Żytnia. It didn’t do much. Production was expensive, the plant’s administration was oversized, vodka could not be sold quickly, and the arrears for unpaid excise duty were increasing. Wanting to pay salaries to employees, Koneser’s management distributed alcohol at the production price. The factory took out loans for further operations. Modern lines were stopped more and more often. During breaks from work, the crew looked after the fish bred in the fire pool. An attempt to sell the bankrupt company to an investor from the alcohol industry failed, and its financial situation was getting worse every year.


The production line of the Warsaw Vodka Factory. 1980s.

21th century

The Koneser’s Downfall

As all attempts to save Koneser failed, the factory buildings were put up for sale. The starting price was PLN 52 million. The entire plant was purchased by BBI Development. Together with the buildings, it took over the 132,000 m3 left in the tanks. l of spirit. She had a serious problem with selling it, because due to long storage, the price of alcohol increased 10 times. In 2007, the production of alcohol in the connoisseur was finally stopped.


Decaying buildings on the site of the factory. Year 2012.

21st century

Koneser: Reactivation

When it seemed that Warszawska Wytwórnia Wódek Koneser had gone down in history, it was revived by Jarosław Nowociel, but not in Warsaw, but in Warka. But under the former name Warszawska Wytwórnia Wódek Koneser. Today’s owner bought the name Koneser, recipes (among others for: Winiak Klubowy, clear vodkas: Koneser, Targowa or Metropolis), and also bought the entire machine park from the insolvency administrator of the Warsaw factory. Initially, it only wholesaled alcohol, commissioning the production of certain brands to distilleries in Józefów and Środa Wielkopolski, and at the end of 2012 it launched its own fully automated vodka production plant in Warka. After the ownership transformation, the tradition and experience of the former Koneser are continued in products worthy of their predecessors.


The production line at the Warsaw Wytwórnia Wódek Koneser in Warka. Year 2012.

21st century

An incubator and a museum

After the purchase of Koneser’s buildings, BBI Development, preserving the most valuable buildings entered in the register of monuments, began to create a residential, office and service complex on this site. In 2014, the construction of new facilities and the revitalization of the historic buildings of the former vodka factory began. The Campus Warsaw business incubator operates in the revitalized Kordegarda building under the aegis of Google. On the other hand, in the historic building of the Rectification Plant, in 2018, the Museum of Polish Vodka (Muzeum Polskiej Wódki) began operating, presenting the history and tradition of Polish Vodka in today’s world, but also showing the great importance of the distilling industry, nurturing the characteristic method of production, and thus the quality of Polish vodka.


The building of the Rectification Plant, where the Polish Vodka Museum opened its doors to visitors in 2018.