For a country of nine million supposed socialists, Sweden sure punches above its weight when it comes to famous, homegrown companies and brands. IKEA furniture. H&M clothing. Volvo cars. Sony Ericsson cellphones. And, of course, there's Absolut vodka.
Absolut Sara, in front of the corporate offices of Absolut Vodka. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).
The Absolut Company hails from the town of Åhus in northeast Skåne, and offers tours of its distillery during the summer. This, in itself, would be reason enough for a daytrip but Åhus is also renowned for a couple of other drawcards. First, there's the eel, a local delicacy. Second, there are the glassbåten, boats docked at the harbour with the express purpose of selling you copious amounts of ice cream.
Vodka. Eel. Ice cream. Now that's a trifecta if I've ever heard of one.
As you might expect, the Absolut operations are quite sizable in scale. Apparently, an eyebrow-raising 20%(!) of all farm acreage in the province of Skåne is used to grow the grain required to feed the Åhus distillery. I'm inclined to think there's an ethical question in there someplace. As Julian would later remark, that's a lot of bread.
In any event, the distillery tour turns out to be pretty good. We see a bottling line, and then a "History of Absolut" video that can only be described as very corporate. I secretly hope that they serve us a wide range of vodka samples at the end, but Sweden's strict alcohol laws skewer that dream. God, the alcohol laws.
I won't talk in any length about the ice cream boat ice cream because, embarrassingly, I failed to finish the five litres of pistachio, coconut and soft serve that they gave me in a waffle cone the size of my head. But I hasten to add that Sarah didn't finish hers either!
And the eel? Sadly, we never got around to it. Oh well, I guess two out of three isn't bad. Besides, it leaves something to do for the next time we're in Åhus.
Absolut Jonna, in the Absolut Vodka boardroom. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).
Absolut Sarah, with a supersized bottle of drink. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).
Absolut directions. Just for the record (and because it's hard to tell from the picture): Sara's pointing at Bombay, Jonna at Lima, and Sarah at Berlin. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).
Absolut confusion. I don't know what this is, either. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).
Absolut glassbåten (ice cream boat), before my Absolut ice cream failure. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).
Absolut tree, in front of the Absolut distillery. To us, the droopy tree looked decidedly drunk - almost certainly from too much Absolut vodka. Åhus, Sweden. (2009).
Absolut vodka. Although the bottle was once mine, the picture was taken by Julian (check out his cool Tumblelog here) and is published on starfish and waffles in accordance with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Lund, Sweden. (2009).
Absolut wheat. 20% of this will become Absolut vodka. This great picture was also taken by Julian, and is published here in accordance with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Bjärred, Sweden. (2009).
Absolut editor, with his very own björnbär vodka shot. Look how happy he is! Lund, Sweden. (2009).