The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2012

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Page 48 of 132

DEPARTMENT HEADER Gold KARLSSON'S GOLD SETS A WORLD STANDARD FOR VODKA by Richard Carleton Hacker I f the government's definition of vodka as a spirit devoid of character, color, aroma and taste were true, there would be only one bottle of America's favorite pour on the back bar. Instead, we have hundreds of brands, and, as anyone who has sniffed, sipped and mixed two or more of these "neutral spirits" side by side can attest, some are decidedly more distinctive than others. Of these, Karlsson's Gold stands out dramatically, even in blind tastings. The creator and master blender of this small-batch artisanal vodka, Börje Karlsson, who has an industry- revered resumé that includes Absolut, flatly states, "If you don't like it, don't drink it." Strong yet confident words from the pipe-smoking former head of laboratory and product development for Sweden's Vin & Sprit AB, who was brought out of retirement by Peter Ekelund, a former V&S colleague and founder of Karlsson's Gold Vodka. The impetus for Karlsson's re-entry into the premium vodka world was the potato. But not just any potato. "Farmer's Gold" For two hundred years, generations of farmers on the Cape Bjäre peninsula in southwestern Sweden have grown a unique, delicate and flavorful type of potato, the virgin new potato. Here, in sandy soil conducive to producing these thin-skinned and nutrient-rich new potatoes, surrounded on three sides by the North Sea and buffeted by salty winds, each year's crop is anxiously anticipated by eager buyers, who pay up to $150 a kilo at auction for the first harvests. Adding to the rarity of these 48 / the tasting panel / september 2012 Going for the PHOTO: NIKKI RITCHER

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