10 Things You Didn’t Know About Absolut
1. The founder of Absolut, L.O. Smith, is pictured on the seal on the Absolut bottle.
You’ve probably never looked too closely at the seal on the front of the bottle, but Lars Olson Smith’s bearded face is front and center. By the age of 26, he was distributing three-fourths of all vodka sold in Sweden, and in 1879 he transformed vodka by distilling it hundreds of times to remove all impurities, a process now known as “continuous distillation.” His company Absolut Rent Bränvin (translated as “Absolutely Pure Vodka”), was the inspiration behind what is now known as Absolut Vodka.
2. Speaking of the Absolut bottle, the design is based off an eighteenth-century apothecary bottle.
In 1978, a glass apothecary bottle made in the 1700s was found in a dusty antique store in Stockholm’s oldest neighborhood. This design informed the current Absolut vodka bottle shape. The bottle doesn’t have a paper label, which allows the content to shine through for all to see. When Absolut came to America in 1979, the bottle’s distinct shape helped it stand out from other brands, which were mostly in taller and thinner bottles at the time.
3. All the components of Absolut vodka are sourced within a 75-mile radius of Åhus.
In keeping with the company’s One Source philosophy, all the winter wheat used in Absolut is grown within a 75-mile radius of Åhus in the Skåne province of Southern Sweden. The water comes from a deep water well in Åhus, which is filtered by aquifer. Even the iconic bottle is produced nearby at a 300 year old glassworks. The company truly keeps their global brand as local as possible, to ensure every bottle of Absolut tastes consistently the same around the world.
4. One bottle of Absolut Vodka takes two pounds of winter wheat to produce.
Absolut uses winter wheat because the starch content is high and the plant is very sturdy, which allows farmers to limit the use of pesticides and fertilizers. There are also no ingredients in Absolut that are classified as GMOs.
5. Absolut works with family farmers.
The company works with around 400 local farmers (150 of those act as backup in case there is an issue with the wheat harvest) to grow the winter wheat used to produce all of the Absolut vodka sold worldwide. The farmers use sustainable growing techniques like crop rotation to replenish soil naturally (it turns out peas are a great interim crop, as they replenish vital soil nutrients).
6. Absolut has a laser-like focus on being a green company.
Thanks in large part to their VP of Operations, Krister Asplund, Absolut maintains an intense focus on positively impacting the environment. Carbon dioxide released during production is bottled and sold to beverage companies. 40,000 cows and 250,000 pigs in the Skåne region are fed stillage, the wheat residue left over from the mash after distillation. Most recently, a biofuel station was installed for transport vehicles, the goal being to reduce the CO2 emissions by half from the production plant-related transports per liter produced by 2020.
7. Andy Warhol helped transform the Absolut bottle into a cultural icon.
Andy Warhol saw the bottle one night and declared “I love the bottle, I want to do something.” Although he didn’t drink, he claimed he used Absolut vodka as an aftershave and would carry the bottle with him to parties. He eventually created over 50 works of art portraying the bottle, one of which became the Absolut Warhol ad. Absolut’s limited edition Warhol bottle launched in October 2014 and offers a three-dimensional replica of Warhol’s original 1985 artwork.
8. Although Absolut is produced in Sweden, its biggest market is the U.S.
Forty-five percent of Absolut’s market is the U.S. The distillery in Åhus produces 500,000 bottles per day to keep up with demand, and in typical efficient Swedish fashion, fewer than 300 people are employed to work on the whole process from distilling, blending, bottling, and shipping.
9. There are 31 different labels and flavors.
While we’re all familiar with the most popular flavors (original, Citron, and Peppar), there is a whole world of all natural, no sugar added Absolut flavors out there, including Absolut Wild Tea (a blend of oolong tea and elderflower flavors), Absolut Cilantro, and Absolut Orient Apple (with flavors of ripe red apples and ginger).
10. Absolut’s newest addition, Elyx, is a single estate vodka.
While Absolut obviously keeps things super local, their most notably craft-style vodka Elyx takes it to a whole new level. All the wheat used to distill Elyx comes from the Råbelöf Estate (read: the fields of a single farm!). The ingredients are the same, but the process includes a separate spin through a copper still, giving the vodka a gorgeous depth of flavor. It’s only available in select U.S. cities at this time.