MOSCOW, March 29 (UPI) -- Scotch whiskey is gaining popularity in Russia as some of the country's drinkers are turning away from their traditional vodka, experts say.
"Gin is down, tequila is down, cognac is static, but whiskey imports are growing," said Erkin Tuzmukhamedov, a leading sommelier and the country's leading whiskey expert, noting "it accounts for about two-thirds of all spirit imports."
Industry insiders said sales of vodka have begun to fall, while recently proposed excise tax increases could give people second thoughts about vodka, The Moscow Times reported Tuesday.
Scotch whiskey is doing well everywhere, industry observers said, and exports of scotch rose 12 percent in 2010, earning Britain $4.5 billion.
Whiskey has never been a hard sell in Russia, says Ludovic Ducrocq, a representative of Grant's whiskey who visits Russia every couple of years.
"I actually find that countries with a strong history of distillation are usually more responsive to Scotch whiskey, and this is especially true of Russia," he said.
But despite some declines, vodka still reigns supreme in Russia.
Of the 275 million cases of spirits consumed in the country in 2009, only 11.6 million of those cases, or 4.2 percent, were imported foreign spirits, the Times reported.
Domestically produced vodka accounted for 229 million cases.