Premium vodkas become cult hit

Premium and super-premium vodkas marketed on their heritage, provenance and style have become a cult hit with brand-conscious drinkers, at up £140 a litre.



Sales of premium vodka have surged 40 per cent rise in the last two years, according to Mintel, which said vodka was increasingly being viewed as a sophisticated and glamorous drink.

Stlolichnaya’s Elit and Grey Goose are promoted like vintage wine, with marketing focussing on food matching, complex distillation processes and tastings notes such as "creamy aniseed notes" and "light pleasant taste of mint”. Leading brands are sold in etched or embossed bottles with clean, abstract images.

"Super-premium and ultra premium appeal to both health-conscious British consumers drinking less but trading up, ‘bling’ culture seeking aspirational brands and drinks connoisseurs seeking less mainstream brands,” Mintel said.

For years Russia's national drink lagged behind whisky as the favourite spirit in the UK, but overtook Scotch as the best-seller in 2007 thanks to a surge in popularity: sales of vodka have risen by 20 per cent in value in the past five years. One in three British drinkers now enjoys a glass of vodka.

Mintel expects vodka sales to rise from £1.8bn last year to £2 billion by 2013, despite a fall in alcohol sales.

Meanwhile, gin and whisky are struggling to reach out to young drinkers; gin sales rose by two per cent in five years to £666m.

"Vodka has done particularly well at keeping the category contemporary and exciting,” said Michelle Strutton, senior drinks analyst.

“Whilst gin, its closest white spirit competitor, has introduced few new products in the past few years, there has been a flurry of activity from vodka manufacturers. As vodka has moved upmarket, a shift, albeit niche, has occurred from consumption via shots or with mixers such as coke or Red Bull to more sophisticated cocktails and long serves.”

Two extremes have boomed, the budget vodkas dominated by the likes of Glen’s and the premium and super-premium brands, which have suitably grand aspirations to match their high prices.

One in 20 vodkas sold is now a premium vodka. Stylish marketing has encouraged customers to spend lavishly on a drink that can be stilled from any raw ingredient; potato, grain, even sugar cane or grapes.

Specialist spirits websites and upmarket wine shops are encouraging connoisseurs to develop a taste for the new brands. Triple distilled Cold River Vodka, for instance, which sells for £40 for a .7 litre bottle, is marketed as a smooth drink with subtle sweetness, “perfect with lobster”.

At £42 a bottle, Stlolichnaya’s Elit is the result of a “unique and revolutionary 'freezing' filtration process.” According to theDrinkShop.com, Elit “evolves from light to medium-bodied with a distinguished creamy aniseed character, garnished with savoury, lightly luscious spiciness and balancing dryness.”

Fashion designers have begun marketing vodka, once the preserve only of Russian and Swedish super-brands and supermarket discounters: Roberto Cavalli’s vodka sells his .7 litre bottles for £47 a time.

The £80 Grey Goose comes from the Cognac region, appropriately for a drink which is increasingly aping the subtlety and sophistication of fine wines.

“Vodka marketers have been very effective in equating premium prices with quality and status,” said Ruth Mortimer, of MarketingWeek.

“There are now so many choices in the premium and ultra premium market that not to choose a premium vodka is itself a statement. A few years ago, there were only really Absolut or Stolichnaya, so choosing one of those premium brands was a statement.

“Now there are countless marques out there, from Russian Standard to Grey Goose; all of which only goes to suggest to consumers that not to pick a premium vodka is to show a level of ignorance about what you are drinking.

“Vodka marketers have also been very good at imitating the wine industry in emphasising the differences in taste and origin between different blends to “educate” consumers,” she added.

“Wine producers have always been very good at convincing people to spend more money by using particular blends, grapes or regions of the world to position their brands as different from others or possessing a certain taste that cannot be found elsewhere."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...