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LONDON - A new product introduced here on Monday brings together two of Russia's most famous exports: vodka and the AK-47 assault rifle.

General Mikhail Kalashnikov, famous for the AK-47 assault rifle design, has now got his name on the latest vodka from Russia.
What ties them together? Both are named after General Mikhail Kalashnikov.

Gen Kalashnikov, 84, who invented the AK-47, was in London for the official release of Kalashnikov Vodka, which is distilled in St Petersburg, Russia, and imported to England.

The vodka retails for about US$24 (S$41) for a 750ml bottle, and is available at several clubs throughout the British capital with a US release planned for next year.

'We're marketing this as a premium brand,' said Kalashnikov Vodka spokesman Sophy Geering.

It is the brainchild of entrepreneur John Florey, a graduate of London University, Cambridge University, and London's Imperial College.

Mr Florey found the Russian general in the town of Izhevsk in Siberia, where he works as a mechanical engineer at the Izhmash Mechanical Engineering Plant. Gen Kalashnikov agreed to lend his name to the brand and was named honorary chairman of the new vodka company.

Though Kalashnikov vodka has yet to reach the United States, some US anti-gun-violence organisations are wary of the vodka's association with the assault rifle, particularly at a time when the US national assault weapon ban has expired.

Gen Kalashnikov, a former tank commander, designed the AK-47 assault rifle after being wounded in World War II, out of fear that the Germans were better equipped than their Allied foes. The Red Army adopted his design in 1947, with the weapon's short name meaning 'Automatic gun of Kalashnikov, 1947'.

The weapon went on to become the weapon of choice for both communist armies and many criminal and guerrilla groups worldwide. Some estimates say there are now 100 million AK-47s in existence. -- AP

this may be a new product for marketing outside of Russia, but he has had his name associated with this vodka for several years now.

I was anticipating buying a bottle (for novelty's sake), as travel plans were going to send us through moscow. but those plans changed, so i was unable to do so.

i have never tried any, but the folks i have spoken to that have tried it indicate that it is sure enough fire water.
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