• Peter Ekelund was behind the creation of a potato vodka in the Cape Bjäre region of southern Sweden. He had been instrumental in the launch of Absolut a quarter-century earlier, but making a potato vodka revived a style that had been prevalent in Sweden until the late 1970s when all distillers converted to grain bases. Ekelund enlisted retired Absolut master blender Börje Karlsson to help work out the new recipe. This is the result.
The distillers at Karlsson's say their vodka is "crafted from virgin Swedish potatoes." That's comforting, because I'd be thrown off if I had to sample a potato with no morals. (Actually, a "virgin" potato is one on which the skin has yet to form.)
Potato vodkas are, in my view, the best of the breed even though there are many competitors since vodka can be made from any organic matter containing starch or sugar. This particular entry, made at the Gripsholms Distillery near Stockholm, uses seven different potato varieties in a sour mash method similar to the one used to make bourbon.
Karlsson's is a single distillation and unfiltered, differentiating it from those vodkas that have been purified to a fare-the-well, losing a lot of character in the process. It rests for just 24 hours after distillation, then is sent right to the bottling facility.
I tried it in the obligatory martini, to good results, but found that sipping it straight from the freezer was the best way to enjoy its bold characteristics -- a pleasant amount of heat, a creamy texture and full, round flavor on the tongue.
Suggested retail price: $39.99 for the 750ml bottle.
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