Russian vodka production fell last year by 9% compared with 1999 to 1.22bn litres, the Russian Agriculture Ministry announced this week. However sales of one of the country's leading distilleries Kristall of Moscow leapt 29%.

The decline in overall vodka production was caused mainly by an increase in tax put in place at the beginning of 2000 of 40%, which forced prices up by 25-35%. Consequently demand fell.

Meanwhile Kristall attributed its increase in sales to new marketing techniques. Kristall sold 87.4m litres of vodka in 2000 against 67.7m litres in 1999. In 2001 the distiller plans to increase production to 120m litres.

The majority of Kristall's sales are made in Moscow, however in 2000, 20-25% of volumes were sold in other Russian regions. In 1999 this figure stood only at 10%. The company hopes this upward trend will continue into the next year.