Allied Domecq is to widen the roll-out of its luxury vodka brand. The spirits group said yesterday (26 October) that it will expand coverage of Stolichnaya elit vodka from next month.

The company, which has been testing elit in California, will make the brand available at bars and restaurants in New York, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Miami and Philadelphia. Elit will sell for almost US$60 a bottle.

AD said it hopes to sell 20,000 cases annually within the next couple of years. Elit is part of the company's plan to move consumers to the fast-growing high end of the spirits world, AD said.

The company plans to increase promotional spending in North America by 20% in fiscal 2005. But elit is not part of that advertising strategy.

"At US$60 a bottle you don't market it the same way (as other brands)," said Barbara Jackson, vice president of marketing at Allied Domecq Spirits, North America.

AD intends to promote elit through word of mouth, the same strategy it used to promote its Wet by Beefeater gin in 2002.

Going forward, the company said it hopes to market elit through sponsorships.

AD plans to introduce elit, not yet available in retail stores, to Dallas, Houston and Phoenix starting in January next year.