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 “bränvin”, 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 Bränvin” (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.