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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

Scottish distiller Whyte & Mackay is launching a ready-to-drink (RTD) extension to its Vladivar vodka brand in conjunction with pre-mixed specialists Independent Distillers. Despite market leaders Bacardi Breezer and Smirnoff Ice reporting sales slumps over the past year, Vladivar's brand manager Fiona Kennie said the RTD market represented a huge opportunity' for Vladivar. Unlike previous brands in the market, each variety is an established cocktail rather than a fruit flavour. We are offering a new degree of sophistication to the premium-packaged spirit consumer - a cold, ready-to-drink cocktail direct from the fridge,' said Kennie. Four SKUs are being launched: Cosmopolitan, Sea Breeze, Black Russian, and the milk-based White Russian. Available later this month, initially in the on-trade, they come with an ABV of 4% and an RSP of 1.50-2.50. The marketing controller at Whyte & Mackay, Sian Marshall, said marketing support for the range would be limited to begin with and that the whole venture was relatively low-risk: If we get good distribution, we'll support them; if we don't, we won't If it doesn't work, nobody will really notice. At the very least it will raise awareness of the mother brand.' Whyte & Mackay is also launching redesigned packaging for Vladivar Vodka, which saw a 67% rise in sales over the Christmas period compared to the year before on the back of its first TV advertising campaign.