Estonia's biggest brewer Saku Olletehas saw rising premium beer sales drive full-year earnings in 2005.

The brewer late last week posted a 50% leap in net profit last year to EST75m (US$5.7m). Group sales volumes were up nearly 20% to 80.8m litres.

Saku Olletehas said sales were up due to the launch of premium brand Saku Kuld, or Saku Gold.

"The brand surpassed its sales targets almost three-fold and quickly became one of the main growth drivers of the last quarter where it seized 10% of the premium segment," the company said.

Saku Olletehas is the leader of the Estonian beer market, with a market share of 44.8%. The Estonian market grew by almost 14% last year. Saku Olletehas exports 20% of its production to its neighbouring Baltic states - Latvia and Lithuania - as well as Finland and Sweden.

The brewer also controls 31.5% of the Estonian cider market and 11% of the country's bottled water category.

Beer sales accounted for almost 79% of the group's revenues but the company said it would continue to diversify its brand portfolio to drive sales growth.