Skål to the Stockholm Spirit Museum

There are three broad alcohol belts in Europe (the wine belt, beer belt and vodka belt) sorted based on the traditional beverages drunk by the people of that region as well as what that country is famous for producing.

Alcohol belts of Europe (Wine belt in Red, Beer belt in Yellow and Vodka belt in Blue, source)

Sweden belongs to the traditional vodka (spirit-drinking) belt. But as with msot of these countries all sorts of alcohol is consumed. Swedes love their alcohol, I would say that the fact that alcohol is tightly controlled via the Systembolaget is proof of how much Swedes consume.

Alcohol is an important social lubricant, a little inebriation loosens the tight social screws that tend to inhibit behaviour and obviously add a little to the merriment of an occasions. It’s big-people soft-drinks so unsurprisingly alcohol finds its way into many parties and celebrations, important days like midsummer are celebrated with drinking songs and over-drinking for example.

But there is a lot more to appreciating a glass of alcohol than just chugging it down and getting drunk. Enjoying alcohol also includes knowing how a wine is produced, tasting the flavours of the alcohol, smelling the aroma of the drink. Given the love for alcohol its no surprise that a museum would be founded to showcase the drinking culture of the Swedes.

There are many different types of Swedish alcohols,  the most traditional all falling into the family of the Brannvin (both flavoured and non-flavoured liquor distilled from potatoes, grain, or wood cellulose). Vodka and aquavit are both variants of Brannvin. As time has passed, there is a growing appreciation for wine and beer and Swedish wineries are slowly growing as is Swedish beer breweries. But this musuem is all about the spirits.

We walked in on the spur of a moment. It was one of those museums that I had always seen and was curious but did not enter. This time around though, the people I was with were the sort who could appreciate alcohol, so in we went through the unassuming entrance.

It’s name may be a museum but its much more than that. There is definitely the museum part, which explains the preparation process to making these alcohols and delves into the drinking habits and of the Swedish people.

There was this exhibtion of old wines with deadly snakes and organs, something that wasnt too shocking to me coming from a Chinese background, we do that too – and always, these sort of alcohols are meant to make a man more sexually powerful. I’m quite sure they don’t work, probably the idea of being “a man” is what accounts for the guy being more confident and “powerful”.

There was also a collectiom of whiskeys and a odour puffer that shows you the smell of the whiskey based on the cask of wood it is stores in, now I know where the unique whiskey smell comes from… 

Technical exhibit aside, there’s the socio-political part that explores the role of alcohol (in this case Absolut Vodka) in marketing and poltical expression.

There was also a artistic/cultural part, this time about the famous Swedish comic Rocky – the adventures of a drunken dog. Created by a comic on a train, modelled on his life after he was dumped by his girlfriend.

For a fee, you also get to try a number of unique aquavits and other drinks in the bar.

Then there’s also an outdoor pub selling craft beers.

What’s not to like! Skål to you guys at the museum.



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