I’m a sucker for all things terroir-driven. If you’ve read my scribblings previously, you’ll know I’ve geeked out on the origins of hops, the tell-tale slate of Mosel Rieslings and the bizarre wines of Jura.

To me there is something beautiful about a grape being grown a world away and ending up as wine in my glass. Or a rare German hop variety ending up as lager in my stein. And no one will dispute that a single-malt scotch can never be replicated in a processing plant in Iowa.

But we’ve seen time and time again how a unique product is blown out on a mass scale only to lose touch with the land it came from.  So it was that I was a bit skeptical when a friend turned me on to Karlssons Gold Vodka.


“But I’m not a vodka fan,” I protested. “Why would I drink something that is odorless and flavorless, that’s had the living soul distilled out of it again and again?”

Vodka doesn’t hold a special place in my book. Maybe its because of the ridiculous level of marketing in the ‘90s for “artisan” vodka and its devoted followings of lemmings who drank their way through countless Cosmos. But in the fear of seeming too snobbish in my libation’s, I digress.

It’s simple: I want a unique taste in my drinks and a great story behind their journey to my table.  For me, its all about the producer’s respect for the art of winemaking, brewing or distilling.  And once I heard the story of Karlssons, I quickly found myself intrigued and my geek-antennae raised. In the world of tripled-distilled, lifeless, soulless, mass-produced vodka, they were doing something different: tricking out on potatoes!

Known as the “Father of Absolut”, master-blender Börje Karlsson helped create Absolut vodka. On the heels of that success, he wanted to turn his talent to something that better honored his home country of Sweden, and specifically, their traditional use of potatoes in distillation.

Sweden Map

Map of Sweden or a potato?

Some countries use grain for their vodkas, others use potatoes, but as with both, you boil them down to a mash to convert their starches to sugars, throw in some yeast to ferment it into alcohol and then feed it through a still. This process concentrates its essences and purifies it down to a “spirit”.

Börje Karlsson went to the heart of his country’s prized potato region, Cape Bjäre, and selected seven types of potato for his brew (Solist, Gammel Svensk Röd, Sankta Thora, Princess, Hamlet, Marine and Celine). That’s some serious spud love, and frankly if I was a potato, I’d rather end up in a martini glass than on the floor of a McDonald’s ball crawl.

And to capture the essence of the potato blend, Börje distills it ONCE. Less human intervention, more flavor, and more terroir.  With citrusy-floral notes on the nose, it is bright and alive in the midpalate with a smooth, round complexity.

Way to smash down the walls of boredom and lifeless spirits, sir!  Although I may not be reaching for a vodka and cranberry juice any time soon, I was pleased to hear there is authenticity in a world of darkness that I had turned my back on.  Viva la potato!

mcdonalds fries

A sad fate...


2 Responses to “Liquid Potatoes: An Irishman’s Dream”

  1. dank says:

    ah, a topic after my own heart. the nuances of beer and wine may be lost on me…but this is more my speed. thanks for the recommendation!

  2. nice one, dan, glad to hear it. Its amazing what joy can be unlocked from the glorious tuber

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