Karlsson’s 2008 Single Vintage Vodka

Karlsson's Batch 2008 Vodka
Karlsson's Batch 2008 Vodka

We’ve been big fans of Karlsson’s Gold Vodka since its launch. Rather than focusing on creating a neutral spirit, Karlsson’s showcases the flavors of what goes into the spirit. Karlsson’s uses a variety of seven different virgin Swedish new potatoes to make their Karlsson’s Gold Vodka. The result is a delicious vodka with light tones of chocolate and black pepper. Karlsson’s Gold is one of our favorite sipping vodkas and one of the best examples of how a vodka can be flavorful and have great character.

Karlsson’s continues to expand what’s considered vodka and has ventured into the relatively new frontier of vintage vodka. With the Karlsson’s Batch 2008 Vodka, the company has picked one of the seven potatoes used to make Karlsson’s Gold Vodka and showcased it individually. The potato used is the Gammel Svenske Rod, a round potato with a red-violet skin and yellow pulp with flames of red. The potato itself is mellow with sweet undertones similar in character to the Jerusalem artichoke. It takes a staggering 18 pounds of these potatoes to make a single bottle of Karlsson’s Batch 2008 Vodka.

Only 2,000 bottles of this vintage vodka were produced, and all the potatoes used for the production of the vodka were all picked from the Slattarod Farm in Cape Bjare in 2008. Potatoes from these farms are sold as high as $100 a pound! When you consider that 18 pounds of potatoes are used per bottle with an extremely limited number of bottles produced, the $80 a bottle asking price seems a lot more down to Earth.

Karlsson’s Gammel Svensk Rod 2008 Single Vintage Vodka(40% / 80 proof, $80) comes in a hand numbered and signed bottle (signed by the distiller, Burje Karlsson). The nose on the Batch 2008 vodka is distinctively different than the Karlsson’s Gold Vodka – Batch 2008 has a lighter and more delicate nose. There are also less mocha and pepper notes on Batch 2008. The nose smells like a crisp, freshly cut potato with a slight sprinkle of white pepper.  The entry of Batch 2008 is light and airy with the slightest suggestion of sweet. The mouth feel is much lighter and much more delicate than Karlsson’s Gold. The core of Batch 2008 is clearly potato. Karlsson’s has managed to really capture the essence of a fresh, young, new potato and present it in a glass. In the midpalate we move from the fresh-cut potato flavor to a more starchy, earthy note of young potato skin. There’s the slightest bit of heat that comes in towards the end of the midpalate, but it’s more white pepper than black pepper. The finish is medium and fairly clean with a light earthy note that lingers on the palate.

Karlsson’s has taken a little bit of a risk putting out an $80 vintage vodka, but we feel there will be a market for it. Karlsson’s has done such an exceptional job of showcasing the essence of the base ingredient with a superb amount of elegance and finess. When you look at a bottle of vodka that claims four, five or six times distillation, consider that Karlsson’s has managed to produce an extremely clean and delicate vodka from a single distillation. When you start with great ingredients and craft your spirit well, you don’t need to constantly redistill.

Karlsson’s Gammel Svensk Rod 2008 Single Vintage Vodka is an exciting addition to the vodka category, and we look forward to comparing the differences between vintages and watch as they continue to expand and explore what’s possible with vodka.