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Lenin sheds a tear in Valentine commercial

Valentine Distilling Company is releasing its first television commercial, created at its Detroit home.

The 30-second ad presents Valentine Vodka as the “World’s Best Vodka” to viewers.

Earlier this year, on March 17, The World’s Best Spirits 2016 were presented by Felicity Murray, editor and founder of, at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London. It was at this award’s presentation that Valentine Vodka was announced as winner of “World’s Best Vodka” by The final tasting note for Valentine Vodka from the 2016 awards reads as follows: “Lots of complex flavour through the nose and palate — a wonderful example of multigrain vodka. Sweet, smooth and creamy on the tongue with a clean and supple finish.”

To celebrate this victory, Valentine Distilling Company has been working the past few months with some very talented individuals who have one thing in common – they’re all Detroiters - to create a spirits advertisement to be remembered.

Rifino Valentine, founder and president of Valentine Distilling Co. says: “Being able to create our first commercial locally to celebrate this milestone speaks to exactly what Valentine stands for - dedication to making quality products and showing the world that American craftsmanship and manufacturing exists today.”

The commercial features a visit to Vladimir Lenin’s tomb in Moscow. When the 'World’s Best Vodka' is announced, a tear is shed by Lenin, Russian communist revolutionary and politician, as it is made clear the “World’s Best Vodka” comes from Detroit.

Writer Jon Stewart of Huntington Woods and art director Bill Whitney of Oxford teamed up to develop the idea for the commercial. Director Thomas Drew, known for his work for Cadillac, Michelin, the AdCouncil, USPS, and many more, was then added to the team to bring the commercial to life. The set for the commercial was built and the commercial shot at Drew’s studio in Royal Oak. Flynn Drew, Tom’s son, joined the team as director of photography for the commercial.

After weeks of casting for a good 'dead Lenin lookalike,' Jeremy Verdusco was riding his bike down Stewart’s street. Verdusco was flagged over and the proposition was made: “You look like dead Lenin, how would you like to play him in a commercial for Valentine Vodka?”

Verdusco, a fan of Valentine spirits, was happy to join the crew. Verdusco, who was officially cast as Lenin in the commercial, also resides in Huntington Woods.

Stewart says: “He just happened to be an innocent pedestrian in the wrong place at the wrong time: the shoot required him to spend 10 hours in facial prosthetics and makeup.”

Verdusco says: “It was a long day on set, but worth it for a product I believe in. Southeast Michigan has a lot of talent, and it shows in Valentine’s products and in the crew that brought this commercial to life.”

Makeup and special effects artist Dan Phillips is a nationally-renown practitioner of his art. He has worked on a variety of high-profile productions including The Hobbit. Dan is also a Detroiter. Also on the production team is Kurt Kulas, agency producer, from Birmingham.

All post-production was completed in Detroit. Editing, visual effects, audio, and final assembly were executed at Ringside Creative in Oak Park, with artwork by Gecko Imaging in Royal Oak.

After days of work by the crew, Valentine Distilling Co. is ready to share its first television commercial with viewers around the world.


24 November 2016 - Sam Coyne The Drinks Report, editorial assistant