Premium Georgia vodka launched in U.S.

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Georgia -- the former Soviet republic as opposed to the sometime U.S. state (think the Civil War) -- is known for a few unenviable things, political repression and governmental corruption among them.

But for the average American consumer that is balanced by Eristoff, a damned fine vodka that this week announced it is entering the U.S. market.

The brand is owned by Bacardi Global Brands (Grey Goose vodka, Bacardi rums), which is counting on the premium-level Eristoff to give it a leg up in that category just as its other spirits labels have done.

The grain vodka is triple distilled and charcoal filtered. The distiller says it is made from an original 1806 recipe created by one Prince Ivane Eristoff in the northwest Georgia province of Racha. The last members of the Eristoff family were Prince Nicolai Alexandrovich Eristoff, whose name appears on every bottle of the vodka, who died in 1970, and his sister, Olga, who died in 1991. Neither had children.

The family logo is a wolf howling at a crescent moon, homage to the gray wolf which has for centuries been part of Georgia's and neighboring Russia's folklore. The logo is embossed on the bell-shaped Eristoff bottle with the imperial crown, Written in the Cyrillic alphabet around the base of the bottle is "Original Recipe of Prince Eristoff of 1806."

Eristoff is being made available in three of its five expressions: Original (80 proof), Red (40 proof), with a red color and sloe berry flavoring, and Black (40 proof), a dark color from its wild berries flavoring. Lime- and caramel-flavored versions available in Europe are not part of the U.S. launch. Suggested retail prices: $13.99 for a 750 ml bottle, $16.99 for a 1-liter bottle and $23.99 for a 1.75 liter bottle.

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