Sula Vineyards Thrusts into Vodka Segment with Beluga Noble Onboard

The Nashik-based brand has recently roped in Beluga, the noble vodka from Russia which is popularly recognised for its composition of malt spirit and water from artesian wells of Siberia.

SULA SELECTIONS, the import arm of India’s native wine brand Sula Vineyards has been bringing in various reputed international labels of fine spirits and wines in the Indian shores, over the past several years now.

The Nashik-based brand has recently roped in Beluga, the noble vodka from Russia which is popularly recognised for its composition of malt spirit and water from artesian wells of Siberia. BW Hotelier spoke to Ken Pritchard, Senior VP – International Sales & Marketing, Sula Vineyards, to learn more about the newest addition to their portfolio.

Having several labels of globally reputed spirits and wines, how will Beluga Vodka set a different experience for both the Indian audience and Sula Selections?

Ken Pritchard: Beluga is the first vodka in our portfolio so it fills the gap in what we are able to offer consumers. Beluga is an icon, an authentic Russian vodka crafted to the highest standards and as such will give Indian consumers a truly premium authentic vodka experience.

Please give a detailed note about the composition and tasting notes of Beluga Noble.

KP: Beluga Noble is refined in every way, down to every detail. Thanks to our unique production technology, including both innovations and centuries-old traditions, the flavour of Beluga Noble has acquired an irreproducible smoothness. All the ingredients of Beluga Noble pass through a strict system of purification and filtration, which guarantees the maximum level of purity and quality in the final product. At last Beluga Noble “rests” for 30 days. The special malt spirit and cleanest water from Siberian artesian wells guarantee a smooth, rich flavour.

Natural honey, infusion of oats and extracts of Sylibum and vanilla make the flavour multifaceted, complete, exquisitely contained and, in one word, ideal. The refined design of our bottle with hand-made elements perfectly reflects the nobility of Beluga Noble. On every one of our bottles, the patron will find one important feature – a small Beluga fish, traditionally fitted by hand, making every bottle unique. Beluga Noble vodka is produced in the very heart of Siberia – a region, which is by right acknowledged as one of the most ecologically clean in Russia. Precisely the purity of the Siberian Artesian waters and the naturalness of all other Beluga Noble components to a large extent explain our choice of geographical location and make our Beluga vodka the absolute leader in the Russian alcohol market.

Appearance: Crystal clear, with a shine

Flavour: Elegant notes complemented by distinct scents of flowers

Taste: Intense, rich palette, well balanced yet complex and deep

Aftertaste: Lasting and pleasant

What trend have you seen in the pattern of vodka consumption in India over the past decade?

KP: Sales of imported vodka have grown by about 10% per annum over the last few years with imported premium vodkas growing at nearer 20% per annum. What we see in vodka is what we see in many categories today - a willingness to explore the category coupled with a desire for authentic, premium products. Beluga fits the bill perfectly!

How does the Indian market prefer drinking Vodka – i.e. stiff drink or cocktails? What is the age group that prefers Vodka over other spirits?

KP: As in much of the world, vodka tends to appeal to a younger demographic. Cocktails are important in the category. Beluga Noble makes the perfect cocktail base (hence the Beluga Masters India 2018 Program) but equally is great “naked” on the rocks. It is of course very much a matter of personal taste but personally, I would recommend people try one of the great Beluga signature cocktails!

How does Beluga’s distinct recipe cater to the tasting notes of Indian consumers? What are your views about its pairing with Indian cuisine?

KP: The sheer smoothness of the drink appeals to any palate and the addition of honey and vanilla in the making is a treat to the sweet Indian palate. Beluga’s noble taste is a perfect match for fine cuisines like caviar, lobsters, crabs and other seafood delicacies. This smooth vodka goes perfectly well with spicy Indian food.

How are you looking to introduce Beluga Vodka to both the retail market & B2B hospitality market in India? Which cities are you primarily targeting?

KP: To be honest we are looking pan-India. As India’s number one wine producer Sula have great market penetration so we can introduce Beluga everywhere. Events such as the Beluga Masters India program allow us to introduce the brand directly to bartenders and mixologists who are important influencers. Alongside that, it is very much about liquid to lips; giving consumers the chance to sample Beluga at events and occasions around the country. So one should soon be able to enjoy Beluga pretty much everywhere in the country!

What are Sula Selections’ further plans to add more international spirit labels to the portfolio?

KP: We pride ourselves on selecting iconic brands and great quality liquids that we can offer to consumers at sensible prices. We are always open to new opportunities but it is not a numbers game where set a target number of brands; it is about quality rather than quantity! We work closely in partnership with our suppliers to help build a consumer franchise for their brands, an approach epitomised by the Beluga Masters which has been developed through the joint efforts of both the Sula and Beluga teams. That said, watch this space - there are some exciting new additions to our portfolio on the horizon!

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