From Kyrgyzstan with love

As if there aren't enough domestic vodkas flooding the U.S. spirits market, a distiller from the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan is about to jump into the competition.

Arvin Director-General Beishenbek Oskonbaev told a news conference today that its Shpilka-label vodka will begin being distributed in Florida, Missouri, Oregon and Louisiana in September. It already is sold throughout Europe.

"Our products have participated in exhibitions abroad and received medals for their quality," Oskonbaev said. "In an exhibition in Brussels, Europeans came and tasted it. Then they came to sign a contract to buy our products. Our vodkas Shpilka and VIP have received medals at the United Vodka festival. (They) all want the Shpilka."

The name is Russian for "stiletto heel," and the target customer demographic is women. No price point was announced.

Ray Edwards, managing director of U.S. spirits importer Stiletto Brands, noted that women represent 52% of all U.S. vodka drinkers.

"The decision to bring Shpilka to the United States was because the design of the bottle was very beautiful, very feminine," Edwards said. "And the quality of the vodkas which we tried -- which are also Arvin products -- were such high quality that we felt very strongly that we could effectively target this demographic."

Meanwhile, a French ultra-premium vodka, Gold Flakes Supreme, soon will be available in select U.S. markets.

The quadruple-distilled vodka, made with 24-karat gold flakes and sold in perfume-style bottles, will retail in the $60 range for a 750ml bottle. It is handled by Shaw-Ross International Importers.

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