Russia: Diageo to launch Smirnov Titul

Diageo has announced the launch of super premium vodka Smirnov Titul to the Russian market.

The release is a continuation of Diageo's  "strategic and tactical innovations" programme in Russia – an emerging market for the drinks group that has grown 31% in net sales during the last six months.

According to Diageo there are “signs of Russian consumers starting to trade up within the category”, which has lead to the super premium vodka category growing by “9% in the last 6 months”.

The “locally produced” Smirnov Titul, which will retail at 400 rubles ($14/ £8.70 / €10) per 50cl bottle, has undergone an “extra distillation in a copper pot” for “softness”.

Only selected retail outlets in Saint-Petersburg will stock the vodka at first, but further distribution is planned should the brand develop.

According to the drinks group, Smirnov Titul is produced using “traditional methods” from the 19th century.

John O'Keeffe, managing director of Diageo Russia & Eastern Europe said: “Vodka is the largest spirits category in the Russian market and we are starting to see growth return to the super premium segment that we are confident will continue longer term.

“Smirnov Titul is a more premium extension of [the] Smirnov brand and represents a significant opportunity to further strengthen our position in Russia by responding early to the growing trend of consumers trading back up as economy recovers.”

Smirnov Titul, which will be produced in Saint-Petersburg, follows Diageo’s introduction of Bell’s, White Horse 1900, Zacapa rum and the limited edition John Walker to the Russian market in the last 18 months.