Diageo UK has dismissed allegations that its leading Smirnoff Ice premium packaged spirit (PPS) brand doesn't contain any Smirnoff vodka.
Following recent reports in the British media that the US version of Smirnoff Ice is currently under investigation by American regulators, the drinks giant has moved swiftly to dispel confusion concerning the brand in the UK.
In America, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) recently launched an inquiry into Smirnoff Ice amid revelations that the drink doesn't contain any Smirnoff vodka or any other distilled alcohol.
The US version is a "malt beverage", nearer to beer than vodka, and the BATF believes it may be misleading American customers.
A spokesperson for Diageo said: "Smirnoff Ice is a blend of pure Smirnoff vodka and the classic taste of lemon and is available outside the US. In the US only, Smirnoff Ice is a citrus-flavoured malt-beverage.
"The rationale for having a malt-based formulation on the market in the US, is that it allows us to increase the number of channels where we can sell Smirnoff Ice. For example, in the US we are able to market and sell this product in grocery or convenience stores that may prohibit the sale of distilled spirits.
"We, and the rest of the industry, are looking forward to hearing the results of the BATF review."
According to The Times, Paul Walsh, the Diageo chief executive, said: "We don't see this is a problem. People who like Smirnoff Ice like it because of the way it tastes, not what the ingredients are or because of how the alcohol is derived."
Sales figures from across the pond suggest that the PPS sector is not performing as strongly over there as it is in the UK. Diageo recently announced the withdrawal of a Captain Morgan Rum offshoot following sluggish sales figures.