The best potato based vodka out there, and one of the best vodkas in general. And no, they are not relatives.
Notes: This Vodka is produced in Sweden from potatoes by Börje Karlsson who is formerly from Absolut.This is one of the few vodkas made with potatoes – which contrary to popular prejudice (particularly vociferous among Russians for some reason)- is a premium ingredient for vodka. Sweden has along with Poland been one of the few countries that used potatoes for vodka. In Sweden they also have taken it much further. In this case they use new spring potatoes ( always a delicacy in Sweden and many other places) further differentiate themselves by distilling and blending 7 different varieties to achieve a balance of characteristics .Each bottle uses approximately 8 kilos (10lbs roughly) of potatoes per bottle. The distillation is also unique- rather than distill it to death (or the death of flavor) it is distilled carefully, only once to preserve the taste and terroir of the vodka.
About 1/3 less yield per kilo and a lot more prep work to ferment and distill make it a difficult and expensive undertaking. Also people who suffer from Celiac’s Disease (a genetic intolerance to gluten found in grains) will find this a welcome addition to the kinds of distilled spirits they can drink.
Appearance: Crystal clear, no sediment whatsoever. On swirling, it leaves a thin clear coat on the inside of the glass with uniform legs. A crystal clear limpid pool in the glass.
First Impression: A slightly sweet smell to it, slightly alkaline, in a pleasant way, full, round ,earthy smells , like hot cocoa and vanilla, a basso profundo of vodka. No smell of esters or oils – this is clean stuff. Unlike grain vodkas this does not have that rubbing alcohol, high esters smell. Very distinctive and full of promise.
Taste: Slight alkali tang/bite, very oily on the tongue, nice body, with a lovelycrisp bite to it. Glides down the throat, not the air strike burn like you get from a lot of other vodkas- it is beguilingly smooth stuff. Karlsson’s has alingering warmth and tingle to the lips with a lovely dry vanilla finish almost like a kiss. Chilling brings out the sweetness and body even more.
Drinks: The Martini was marvelous. A slowly stirred 3 or 4 to 1 ratio of Karlsson’s to vermouth with a 1-2 dashes of a good bitters and lemon zest yields a complex, multi layered balm for ones psyche.
NOTE: Use Noilly Prat and keep the vermouth refrigerated after opening for the best taste.
Final Thoughts: Finally a premium potato vodka from Sweden that shows what is possible by using superior ingredients, vision, and skill – and this doesn’t hurt either: cheaper than many of the other premium vodkas out there and far better tasting! An outstanding vodka on it’s own merits and a particular standout for a potato vodka. Well done!
Bottle Very interesting and distinctive short barrel shaped decanter style bottle with what appears to be a wide neck (but seems to be normal diameter opening for all you speed pour types) With a black label band around circumference of bottle, Karlsson’s is picked out in white with gold edging and rest of information is gold on black background (note “O” of Karlsson’s is a potato). Cap is a horizontally ribbed screwcap closure. Simple and nicely done, it shows the clarity of the vodka to nice effect.
Fast loading, fair amount of information. Simple navigation, easy-to-read.Good content and descriptions of production, if a bit terse.