Behind The Scenes at the Absolut Vodka Distillery in Sweden

Behind the Scenes

Your ticket into the secret world of boozemaking.

[Photographs: Jessica Leibowitz]

Thanks to Absolut, I recently had the opportunity to join a press trip to Sweden to see vodka-making in action. (Don't worry, there were meatballs, too.)

Vodka is one of those magical byproducts of science where a handful of wheat and some yeast transforms into a strong spirit. I traveled to Sweden to find out how it works. (It was kind of a dream come true: I actually have an old binder filled with Absolut ads. One of my favorites was Absolut L.A.)


Near some of the wheat fields for Absolut Elyx in Sweden, which are dormant during the winter.

Rather than purchase raw neutral spirits, which is common practice for many manufacturers, Absolut takes control of the process from beginning to end—from seed to glass—and it's all done locally in Sweden. Did you know the original name was Absolut Rent Brännvin (Swedish for "Absolutely pure vodka")?

The distillery churns out 600,000 liters (or 80,000 to 90,000 cases) of vodka per day. The process is done with continuous distillation, which Absolut founder Ellis Smith (that dude on the medallion) introduced to Sweden back in 1879.

While on the vodka tour-de-Sweden, we also learned about the soon-to-be-released Absolut Elyx, a new high-end vodka that's produced on a much smaller scale. The name comes from "lyx," which is Swedish for luxury. The spirit is already available in a few countries and will be released in the US in May.

Shall we get down to the nitty-gritty, then? Follow our tour to see how Absolut is made (plus, get a peek at some upcoming new products) »