Standing listening last night to The Macallan’s brand ambassador, Joy Elliot, who was conducting a tasting of the new 1824 Series at the Whisky Shop in London’s Piccadilly, I could not resist a feeling of déjŕ vu.
Green Mark is also Russia's number one vodka with sales in 2011 of 11.85 million nine-litre cases.
Chris Mason, managing director of First Drinks, said: “The new vodkas are an excellent fit within our existing portfolio, complementing our current brands.
"We have a strong track record of building premium brands and have big ambitions for 2012 to be in the position to offer our customers the most desired portfolio of authentic vodka brands of any UK distributor."
The William Grant & Sons subsidiary will distribute Green Mark from the first quarter of 2012 while the rights for Zubrówka will be transferred from existing distributor Marblehead in the third quarter of this year.
The deal is set against a picture of prosperity for vodka in the UK. Recent Neilsen data showed vodka grew 7% in the on-trade and 10% in the off-trade in the UK (year ending December 24 2011).
William Carey, president and CEO of CEDC, said: “We are pleased to enter into partnership with the strongest distributor in the UK, with great experience in building premium brands in the market.
“We have been very successful in expanding Green Mark’s export in 2011 and we will continue to build this brand’s international presence. We also look forward to strengthening the position of Żubrówka which is our key export brand and has already won recognition in the UK market.”
The outgoing Marblehead helped build Zubrówka to case sales of 25,000 a year in the UK – the brand’s second largest export market – and has claimed it is now the best selling flavoured vodka in the UK.
Dave Steward, business development director at the brand development, marketing and distribution company, said: “There is no doubt that Zubrówka is now an iconic brand in the UK and has built a loyal following of drinkers who enjoy its premium quality, rich heritage and distinctive taste. Zubrówka has a great future.”
“Moving forward, Marblehead is entering a new phase of development. We have a strategic partnership with Proximo in the UK working on the fast-growing brand Kraken Spiced Rum and are developing a portfolio of wholly-owned brands including Davna Czeri Vodka and Skipper Rum.”