Absolut Vodka Bar Rail Runner



An Overnight Success Since 1879 Lars Olsson Smith -- The King of Vodka Absolut Vodka is a contemporary phenomenon. First exported in 1979, Absolut Vodka quickly soared to one of the best-selling premium vodkas in the world today.

It is an overnight success... an overnight success since 1879.

It was then vodka was first sold under the name Absolut. Yet, Swedish vodka has its roots in the 15th century when Swedes first started distilling spirits called "br?nvin", literally "burnt wine". Made from grain or imported wine, these spirits were originally used mostly as medicine and for making gunpowder. The first alcohol restrictions had nothing to do with sobriety; distilled spirits were needed for Sweden's war machine.

Human nature being what it is, however, people soon found spirits had a number of more recreational uses. By the 17th century, the distilled spirit that we today refer to as vodka had become a national drink.

The phenomenal success of Absolut Vodka has only one precedent: the success of the man who introduced it.

Successful businessman at 10 and entrepreneur at 14, Lars Olsson Smith controlled one third of all the vodka in Sweden while he was still learning to shave. For almost half of the 19th century he was known as "The King of Vodka". In 1879, he introduced a new kind of vodka called "Absolut Rent Br?nvin" (Absolute Pure Vodka) produced using a revolutionary new distillation method. The method was called rectification, a method we still use today.

Without knowing it, Lars Olsson Smith had introduced what exactly a century later, would become Absolut Vodka.

The Vodka Wars Not only did Smith create a purer and better-tasting vodka, he also started a trade war against the city of Stockholm. Smith was an entrepreneur in every sense of the word and didn't take kindly to the city monopoly on distilled spirits.

He refused to apply for a permit to sell his product in Stockholm and instead opened a vodka store next to his distillery on the island of Reimersholme, just outside the city limits. He sold his vodka by offering a free shuttle boat to the island - an incredible marketing initiative for the period!

The store was a huge success, much to the dismay of the Stockholm spirits monopoly. The trade war escalated, shots were even fired. Smith responded by expanding his business, turning his sights towards southern Sweden, a region for centuries famous for its vodka production.

The Rich Wheat Fields of Southern Sweden At the end of the 1870's, more than half of all alcohol in Sweden was produced in the Skane region in the southern part of the country. Once again, Lars Olsson Smith went on the offensive, taking over a number of distilleries in the region while attacking existing distribution channels that were selling what he considered to be inferior products. He even used labor unions to boycott retail outlets selling low quality products.

Towards the end of the century, Smith started to export his spirits with great success, making him one of the richest men in the country, a fortune he would lose, regain and lose again.

When he died in 1913, he was penniless, leaving behind him nothing but debts, angry letters and lawsuits.

And the Absolut Vodka concept - a purer vodka with a heritage of innovative marketing.

Lars Olsson Smith: on every bottle, in every bottle.

A New Generation Of Pioneers Lars Olsson Smith's technical know-how and business sense did not die with him. In the 1970's, a worthy successor was found in Lars Lindmark. President of V&S Vin & Sprit AB (The Swedish Wine and Spirits Corporation) Lindmark soon set about modernizing the respected old company.

With the 100 year anniversary of Absolut Rent Br?nvin approaching, he made the decision to export a new vodka. The finest vodka modern distilling techniques could produce, a new product that was a century old: Absolut Vodka. With little experience in advertising, packaging and product positioning, he created a marketing team and set about trying to come up with a new positioning for the new Absolut Vodka.

They were aiming high; they had set their sights on the US market, the most competitive vodka market in the world, but also the most lucrative. The US consumes more than 60% of all vodka produced in the western world. Consumption patterns in the US showed that while overall spirits consumption was decreasing, consumption of premium vodka was increasing. The decision was made to market Absolut Vodka as a premium product with a long tradition, meant for a discerning consumer. It was the first time in this century that Sweden had exported any alcoholic beverage on such a large basis.

Absolut in a Paper Bag?

At first, the ideas centered around the traditional Swedish origins of the brand. There were a number of early suggestions including "Swedish Blonde Vodka", with pillaging Vikings on the label and "Royal Court Vodka", a frosted carafe. There was even a bottle wrapped in paper.

None of these ideas was felt to adequately communicate the product and its tradition. Marketing surveys carried out showed that the time was definitely right for a premium vodka. There was a clearly discernible consumer trend towards "white" spirits as opposed to "brown" spirits; clearer spirits were seen as being purer and healthier. There was a niche for premium vodka waiting to be developed. But the question of how to package and market it still remained.

American experts were called in. They recommended modern-looking packaging with a bright, colorful label that would stand out on the shelf. They recommended a royal touch, mimicking so many of the "Czar themes" on the market at the time. The Swedish team was less than thrilled.

Gradually, they came to realize that the answer was much the same as the concept created 100 years earlier by Lars Olsson Smith.

A Swedish Medicine Bottle Becomes The Latest in Glass Design The breakthrough came when a bottle was finally chosen. Like many breakthroughs it came purely by chance and in retrospect seems almost too obvious.

Advertising man Gunnar Broman was looking through an antique shop window in Stockholm's "Old Town" when he saw an old Swedish medicine bottle, a cultural icon was unchanged for more than a hundred years. The bottle was elegant, different, simple and very Swedish. In the 16th and 17th centuries vodka had been sold in pharmacies as medicine to cure everything from colic to the plague.

The choice was a stroke of genius. Several Swedish designers were given the job of helping the Absolut Vodka team further develop the bottle.

It had been decided that there should be no label to hide the crystal clear contents. After much discussion and several prototypes the team came to the conclusion that some kind of colored lettering was required. Blue was decided upon as a the most visible and attractive color, the color that is still used today for the famous Absolut Vodka logo.

The Name Absolut V&S Sprit AB now had a product and a package. What they didn't have was a name. The original product was called "Absolut Rent Br?nvin", which was modified to "Absolute Pure Vodka", a name that for legal reasons could not be registered in the US - "absolute" was a common adjective and could not be a trademark. The final "e" was dropped removing the legal obstacle and adding an extra Swedish touch.

"Pure" also posed legal problems and was removed. The slogan "Country of Sweden" was added between the main elements to stress the vodka's origin and its tradition of purity.

"It Will Never Sell!"

When the Absolut Vodka team started to look for a distributor in the US they met with a reception colder than a chilled cocktail glass.

One company that didn't lack foresight was Carillon Importers Ltd. based in Manhattan. The company was let by Al Singer, a true non-conformist who was ready to accept the challenge the moment he saw the product. The company had only one salesman, Michel Roux, who was to play a leading role in the marketing and distribution of Absolut Vodka. As Absolut Vodka grew and Carillon with it, he eventually became president and a driving force behind the success of the product. A few final changes were made to the bottle - the now famous medallion of Lars Olsson Smith was added and the neck was made a little longer. The first consignment of Absolut Vodka was filled at the ?hus distillery on April 17, 1979 and Absolut Vodka went on sale for the first time in the US in Boston two months later.

?hus, Sweden

Every drop of Absolut Vodka consumed in the world today comes from the same place: our distilleries near ?hus in southern Sweden, for centuries a region famous for its vodka. We use grain from nearby fields and water from our own well. By having complete control over all phases of production, we can personally ensure the high quality of every single bottle.

Built in 1906, the ?hus distillery combines the best of old, local distilling tradition with the best of modern technology.

This small town of barely 10,000 inhabitants not only produces, but packs and ships all the millions upon millions of liters of Absolut Vodka consumed around the world.

Record-Breaking Success In The US

In its first year on the US market, only 10,000 nine-liter cases of Absolut Vodka were sold. The product was launched first in Boston; then New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and eventually all over the country.

By 1982, Absolut Vodka had passed a major Finnish competitor that had entered the US market ten years earlier! In 1985, the biggest Russian competitor was overtaken, making Absolut Vodka the leading imported vodka in the US.

The same year, just six short years after the first sales in Boston, Absolut Vodka made its way into the top 100 most sold spirits in the world, according to an international trade magazine. .


Price: $24.95

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