Diageo has launched a brand extension to its flagship white spirit Smirnoff.

The company said today that it was adding Smirnoff Norsk to its UK on-trade range. Smirnoff Norsk is Smirnoff vodka finely cut with Nordic berries.

"Smirnoff Norsk has a characteristic pale blue 'nordic' colouring that reflects the berries and is now available exclusively to the on-trade. The new vodka is icy smooth in taste and is best drunk neat over the rocks, redefining the way people normally drink vodka in Great Britain," a statement said.

Ellie Calver, senior innovation manager for Smirnoff Norsk said: "Berry picking in Scandinavia is an age-old tradition and in the past these berries were preserved in alcohol. The recipe for Smirnoff Norsk, with its Nordic berry distillate, took inspiration from this original use of berries creating a unique and delicious liquid.

"In research we've done with consumers, they told us that they're looking for brands that stand out from the crowd - Smirnoff Norsk is a distinctive, premium vodka that fully delivers against this challenge. Feedback we had from trials told us that Smirnoff Norsk provides high intrigue and 66% of consumers claimed post trial that they would drink it over ice or neat. Through our experience of launching spirits to date, we believe that a phased launch approach is optimal. We will therefore initially be launching Smirnoff Norsk in around 6000 bars nationwide from the end of September 2004."

The Smirnoff Norsk launch, with an ABV of 37.5%, is currently exclusive to the UK, and is likely to be sold at a 15% premium to Smirnoff vodka.

Smirnoff Norsk is filtered through specially selected polish charcoal, distilled three times and filtered ten times to produce an ultra smooth finish.

The launch will be supported by a £1.5m marketing plan with heavyweight in-bar support