In 2001, a group of Swedish potato farmers found themselves looking for ways to improve their businesses. Under the guidance of Peter Ekelund - an entrepreneur who helped launch Absolut in the 1970s - the group began working together as a collective and immediately saw a surge in demand for their Swedish-grown spuds.
Their success also provided the foundation for a much more important idea - to make a vodka from the different varieties of local virgin potatoes. Ekelund brought on board Börje Karlsson, a former colleague and master vodka blender (he's the guy who created the original recipe for Absolut vodka) to create a vodka from the crops of the local farmers. So was born Karlsson's Gold, a blend of potato spirits that lent the small-batch vodka its signature taste.
Master Blender Börje Karlsson combined the individual spirits and vintages from seven different potatoes, all of which are grown in Sweden's Cape Bjäre region. Karlsson found these potatoes were much like grapes, with noticeable variances from season to season. He also realized that some of them were exceptional if they were distilled on their own, and the idea for a single varietal vodka, Karlsson's Batch, was born.
The brand's first single varietal was distilled in 2004, but Karlsson's Batch 2008 is the first that's been expressly made for commercial release; produced from Gammel Svensk Röd (Old Swedish Red) new potatoes harvested in 2008.
The label bears the name of the farmer, Bertil Gunnarsson, along with the property from which it was harvested and the bottle's number in the edition. The vodka is very distinctive, and unlike blended vodkas that aim for an even palate, it has a sharp and complex flavour.
It's a bold move in a market whose expansion is dominated almost exclusively by frills and flavored vodkas. In fact, the minimalistic approach is more often seen in the domaines of champagne and whisky. Priced at US$80, Karlsson's Batch 2008 is also made that extra bit special because it's restricted to 1,980 bottles.