Bacardi-Martini is planning to take on premium vodkas such as Absolut and Finlandia with the launch of a vodka called Turi, in Europe and the US this autumn.
Turi will be made for the international spirits giant by Onistar, a distillery in the Baltic country of Estonia.
No one at Bacardi-Martini was available to comment, but it is understood that Turi will be priced at $25 to $30 (&£16 to &£19) for a litre bottle and that the marketing will stress the tradition of vodka-making in the Baltic states that goes back centuries, as well as the purity of the ingredients.
The vodka market has seen a huge surge in consumption in the past few years, driven by the popularity of cocktails and also by the rise of vodka-based Premium Packaged Spirits such as Smirnoff Ice.
The premium end of the market has been particularly active, with drinks companies scouring the world for existing brands, or launching new ones. The success of brands such as Finlandia (from Finland) and Absolut (from Sweden) means premium vodkas no longer have to have Russian heritage or even be made from the traditional grain to succeed, with recent launches including a Polish potato-based vodka.
The market has been further opened up by a dispute between the Russian government and Western companies over trademark rights to certain vodkas, including Stolichnaya (MW May 30).