I know, I know. Isn’t there already a market full of ‘luxury’ vodka?
That was my first thought when looking at the press release from the brand, anyway. In a world of Grey Goose, Belvedere, Ciroc et al, I mused, is there room in the vodkasphere or another one of those style of brands? Absolut flew me to the home of their brand, Sweden, so I could find out.
A brief history of the brand then. Absolut has been producing vodka since 1879, originally by Lars Olsson Smith before going into the hands of the Swedish government in 1917 as they monopolised the whole alcohol industry in the country at the time. Subsequently, Absolut was sold to Pernod Ricard in 2008. The brand was made most famous and gained most of its notoriety by its bright & bold advertising posters in the 1970s and 1980s.
The first thing Absolut was keen to point out to me is the difference between ‘luxury’ and ‘premium’ vodka. They are keen to be known by the former rather than the latter, where they place their standard Absolut Vodka.
Often in the luxury world, you need to scratch beneath the surface to see whether the premium you are paying over a middle-market brand is all marketing expenses passed on to you, the consumer, or whether is truly down to the craftsmanship and materials behind the product.
Absolut Elyx is a way for the Swedish company to showcase what a company that is already renowned for the quality of its vodka can do when it really pulls out all the stops.
Luxury is often attributed to rare and precious metals like gold, silver and platinum, but in the case of Absolut Elyx, copper is curiously the metal of choice.
As I walk into the bar within the Elyx factory in Åhus, Sweden, I am greeted by a copper bar with copper mixing equipment, copper trinkets on the wall… you get my point, it’s a lot of copper. Perched elegantly on top of the bar are three bottles of the Absolute Elyx vodka, itself adorned with copper accents like the rest of the room.
The copper, says Jonas Tåhlin, the CEO of Absolut Elyx, is key in the process of making the vodka and not only for presentation and marketing purposes.
Creating the ‘raw spirit’, Absolute Elyx is distilled using single-use pieces of sacrificial copper in a process called copper catalysation, purifying the spirit and adding trace compounds to it, giving it its unique taste and texture.
All the Elyx vodka is further distilled in a vintage copper still from 1921, affectionately named by the company as ‘Column 51’. Unlike the Area, there are no mysteries here. The still is hand operated by a team of expert craftsmen headed up by Master Distiller Krister Asplund.
The handcrafting process gives Elyx a unique character that you don’t get from other vodka brands, along with a ‘mouthfeel’ of liquid silk.
We are given a helicopter tour over the fields of ‘winter wheat’ that make up the raw spirit, this specific type of wheat is chosen for the consistency.
All the wheat for Absolute Elyx comes from the Råbelöf Estate – a family-owned farm that has produced this ‘winter wheat’ since the 1400s. That’s some provenance.
Every drop of Elyx is 100% traceable to within 15 miles of the factory in Åhus, so every drop of the vodka is ‘absolut’ely accounted for, from grain to when it is bottled. This allows an exceptional amount of consistency to the final product and means every bottle that leaves the factory is nothing less than perfect.
The company also pride themselves on being ethical. For every bottle of Elyx they sell, one week of safe water, 140 litres, is supplied to someone who needs it most. They do the same for every Elyx Pineapple of Hospitality sold but provide one month’s supply, 560 litres, of safe water instead. So far, they have provided 15,000 people with access to clean, safe drinking water. Seeing a luxury company with a moral compass pointing in the right direction is incredibly refreshing.
Absolut Elyx, despite being unbeknownst to be before now takes pride of place in my drinks cabinet at home alongside a copper pineapple ‘challis’ from the brand. I’m now a convert to the ‘liquid silk’ from Sweden.
Recommended neat with a single ice cube. Skål!
Absolut Elyx – Where and how
For more information, please visit the official website here
Please drink responsibly and with moderation