Gallo is targeting independent retailers with New Amsterdam vodka, the first spirits brand to sell 1 million cases within its first year in the US.

New Amsterdam, which comes in a clear bottle featuring a picture of the Empire State Building, was launched into the UK market late last year with an rrp of £15.99 for a 70cl bottle.

Gallo has now hired four London-based spirits ambassadors to target the independent off-trade with the brand.

“We are trying to build distribution in the independent market before we start talking to the consumer,” Gallo’s general manager Bill Roberts told OLN.

“We have a team of spirits ambassadors in London aiming to engage independent retailers.

“We know how competitive it is in the multiples. We want to walk before we run. We want to build it at grass roots.”

Gallo will run a competition offering retailers that stock New Amsterdam the chance to win a year’s supply of E&J Brandy.

It was launched in the US in September 2011 and became the only spirits brand to ever hit the 1 million case mark within a year of launch.

When asked why it fared so well, Roberts said: “. It was the perfect storm, with the vodka category being extremely dynamic, and the brand positioning, packaging and distribution, but the most important factor was consumer acceptance.

“It will be a top five vodka brand in the US by the end of the year. That’s a conservative estimate – it will probably be higher.”

But he admitted it will take a lot longer to build up in the UK as “the route to market is more challenging”.

“But I think we will be successful here,” he added.