Art Imitates Life: The Botanical World of Åhus Akvavit

Art Imitates Life: The Botanical World of Åhus Akvavit

by Malina Bickford, National Brand Director for Åhus Akvavit

In dreaming up Åhus Akvavit’s category-pushing approach to aquavit, we knew we wanted to take a deep dive into our abundant natural surroundings — Sweden, distilled. Culturally, Swedes enjoy an intimate and deeply respectful relationship with nature, and these values were top of mind as we created our historic distillery's newest botanical spirit and the visual language to tell its story. 

For early inspiration, we looked to Sweden’s own Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778); the botanist, zoologist, taxonomist and physician who created the classification systems by which all living organisms are organized, even to this day.⁣ His seminal publication Systema Naturae classified 4,400 species of animals and 7,700 species of plants. It was groundbreaking, meticulous work that ultimately composed the vocabulary through which we can understand the world around us. ⁣ 

The relentless curiosity that drove Linnaeus is something we strive to incorporate into our practices, experimenting with botanicals and cataloguing our process for future generations. Without him, there would be no us.  

Together with local foragers, we’re exploring the possibilities for macerating, distilling, blending and (best part) drinking the natural life that grows all around us. Building a library, or classification, of our own as we capture ephemeral blooms at their peak, fruit at perfect ripeness and all the curious bits that may have previously been overlooked. Teasing out delicate flavors and harnessing bold ones. 

To show our work and the ethos behind Åhus Akvavit, the classic Linnaean style of illustration (actually created by his friend and collaborator Georg Dionysius Ehret) felt like the right place to begin. Åhus Akvavit co-founder and Creative Director Frans Enmark commissioned illustrations of our botanical library by artist Stevie Anderson. In these works, Linnaeus’s ghost intermingles with dark tones and surreal flourishes that evoke the magic and mystery of the Swedish forest. 

Stevie also created the rich botanical pattern many now associate with Åhus Akvavit, which feels like finding yourself lost in the woods on a moonlit night – and not minding one bit! 

Åhus Akvavit’s signature look also extends to our lab-inspired brand font, which grounds some of that dreaminess and reflects the space where the bulk of our work takes place -- as Master Distiller Anna Randrup meticulously examines and tests dozens of cuts taken from each individual botanical’s distillation and Master Blender Daniel Nilsson then experiments with combinations of flavors, proofs and recipes. 

Every element of Åhus Akvavit is a considered part of a bigger story and mission - to capture and share the magic of Sweden with the world.  

This letter was sent from the Fellows at Åhus Akvavit

Åhus Akvavit is the culmination of over a century of locally honed distillation methods and recipes from its provenance and namesake Åhus, a tiny seaside village in southern Sweden. At the center of the town lies the Spiritchurch, a distillery built in 1906 and still running to this day. For many years, all Swedish aquavits were produced there and there only. Today, they make only one; Åhus, the finest expression of their village’s heritage and craftsmanship. 

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