StateWays - January/February 2017

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays | | January/February 2017 22 director Ryan Robertson. "Consumers want to connect with the products they are choosing and with the story be- hind them." Ciroc's brand messaging focuses on its French heritage and grape base. The vodka is cold-fermented and distilled fi ve times, the fi fth and fi nal distillation taking place at the Distillerie de Chevanceaux, in a traditional copper pot still. "The fi nal distil- lation lends Ciroc Ultra-Premium Vodka its unique signature, delivering a distinctive fl avor with an exceptionally fresh, citrus taste," Robertson says. Unfl avored vodka is the growth driver of the category, he adds, outpacing growth in fl avors. FLAVOR CONTRACTION Like the rest of the vodka category, the import segment went overboard with fl avor proliferation. Now most producers are pulling back the reins and refocusing their portfolios. Simulta- neously, there has been a renewal of interest in straight unfl a- vored vodkas. "Although fl avored vodka growth has slowed and fl avors seem to be playing a bigger role in categories like tequila and whiskey, fl avored vodka continues to play a key role in overall category consumption in the U.S.," maintains Pearson at Dia- geo. There is defi nitely a movement towards fruit fl avors, he notes, and "last year we saw improvement in the vodka category overall for unfl avored vodka in the U.S." "There has been a category contraction of the fl avor seg- ment, but we didn't veer off into the overly confectionary fl a- vors," Guastaferro says. Absolut, he adds, is well-position with the number-one lemon and orange fl avors, and is refocusing its fl avor portfolio to concentrate on the eight highest-performing SKUs. Much of Absolut's business is coming from the unfl a- vored Blue, up 3.9% over past 12 months; overall total Abso- lut sales are up 2.5%. "Unfl avored is the purest expression of a brand and is highly appealing to consumers interested in learn- ing more about vodka," he says. "We're exceptionally deliberate when it comes to introducing any new SKU into our portfolio," says Diana Pawlik, vice pres- ident of marketing for Svedka Vodka. About 17% of the brand's sales are driven by fl avors. The unfl avored vodka category is strong, she adds, and Svedka's 80-proof business continues to experience solid growth and remains at the core of the port- folio. In 2015, the company introduced a 100-proof expression to provide an elevated vodka offering in the unfl avored space. "IN VODKA, AND ACROSS SPIRITS AND WINES IN GENERAL, THERE IS A HUGE RECOGNITION for provenance of product AND THE RENOWNED HISTORY and expertise in certain regions of the world." −Tom Swift, global vice president for Grey Goose Vodka IMPORTED VODKA | CATEGORY UPDATE

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