UNDAUNTED BY A SOFTENING SPECIALTY VODKA MARKET, ABSOLUT ROLLS OUT A LIME VERSION 31 YEARS AFTER ITS FIRST MID-80s FLAVOR VARIATION
BY EVAN MONROE
Now the third-largest liquor brand in the world in sales (after Bacardi and Smirno ) Absolut owes its founding to frustration over corporate monopoly. Rankled by the city of Stockholm’s iron grip
on liquor manufacturing, Lars Olson Smith decided to found his own distillery in Åhus, Sweden in 1879, and took advantage of its position just outside the nation’s capital by offering free boat rides to the new operation.
Very quickly, he made a fortune. Eventually purchased and controlled by the Swedish government, Absolut was bought by
Pernod Ricard in 2008 for a cool $6.5 billion, and the parent company has continued to press what is perhaps the brand’s most pivotal innovation—the introduction of flavored varieties, now numbering more than 20, including Raspberri, Vanilla, Citron Lemon, Berri Acai, Orient Apple Ginger, Kurant, and Cherrykran.
It took 31 years after the first patented flavor, Peppar, was launched in 1986, however, for Absolute to discover what your average vodka drinker might think the likely rollout candidate: Lime. Gratifyingly full-bodied in its citrus flavor but with a light and happily non-cloying nish, the new member of the
family premiered in conjunction with Absolut being the official spirits partner of the 59th Grammy Awards.
It was all a bit of a gamble for Pernod Richard, as the avored vodka market has softened considerably over the last three years—perhaps owing to increasing wackiness among competing brands, who
offered unfortunate varieties like birthday cake-, maple syrup- and Cinnabon- flavored varieties.
“Lime is a dynamic and complex fruit and we believe we’ve created the perfect flavor blend in Absolut Lime to enhance and elevate
a variety of cocktails,” said Nick Guastaferro, Director of Marketing for Absolut, Pernod Ricard USA. “Thanks to a delicious flavor and easy mixability, it is great for going out or staying in, for creating simple or complex cocktails.