This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
20 • FEATURE: SWEDEN


MICKE NILSSON MANAGER, AKKURAT BAR


Together, Micke and Akkurat have watched and become an integral part of Stockholm’s alcohol renaissance. Starting life specialising in Belgian beers (of which it still has a phenomenal collection), Akkurat has evolved into a hub


for craft drinks from across Europe and beyond, and is well known all over Sweden. When he sees I am struggling to choose between the array of intriguing single malts lined up behind the bar (many of which are single cask), Micke grins and pulls out a thick leather-bound folder, listing Akkurat’s full collection. This, I recall, is what it was like going to The Vaults in Leith for the first


time. “Whisky is such a varied spirit, you can spend a lifetime and still be discovering new things, and I think that really appeals to us,” he says. “It’s also still sort of exotic to us; we’re not interested in vodka or Swedish schnapps, because we get that all the time, just like the French don’t drink cognac any more.”


to whisky events and visiting my favourite distilleries, to meet the people and learn everything I could.” Andreas’ story is one you will hear time and again in Sweden, tracing out a seismic shift in the nation’s traditionally stern view of alcohol. For tens of thousands like Andreas, the notion that enjoying single malts could be a sophisticated pursuit was a revelation, which quickly turned into a burning fascination. Back in Stockholm the next day, I went


to find out more from Micke Nilsson, the debonair manager of the Akkurat bar in the city’s fashionable southern quarter, who has had a ringside seat for this astonishing turnaround. “We were very close to getting


THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY


prohibition in Sweden and still have very tight government control, so that’s had a huge influence on our drinking culture. Even 20 years ago, you would go into a restaurant and ask for a carafe of ‘red wine’ or ‘white wine’ or a beer. No brands, just ‘beer’ or ‘wine’. Those were the choices. Likewise with single malts; there were only a few available. “It started to change with wines – people got interested and wine clubs proliferated. Customers started to ask what grape a wine used, when it was made, its terroir. And now the same has happened with whisky. Ironically, I think the threat of prohibition is still very strong in people’s minds and has only increased their curiosity.”


It was becoming clear that Sweden’s


unique passion for whisky is not a straightforward matter. To dig a little deeper, I met with breakfast TV presenter and well-known whisky writer Steffo Törnkvist, at his central Stockholm apartment. I asked him why Sweden had taken whisky so fervently to its heart. “Why whisky? There are numerous


explanations,” he says. “We’re certainly very well-organised people. Whether it’s whisky, knitting, painting or books, we tend to organise in small groups and we learn. “We also have a strong national


relationship with peat. We have sea or lakes everywhere and have always used peat products to fix our boats,


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36