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The winter wheat used to make Absolut only comes from the Skåne region of southern Sweden where the distillery is located and accounts for some 20% of the region’s wheat production.
The whole grain wheat is milled using a hammer mill and mashed by low temperature cooking with added enzymes. The sweet mash is then fermented with a propriety Swedish cultivated yeast to produce a sour mash of 9% to 10% alc./vol.. Fermentation normally takes a little over 48 hours bit when the grain is newly harvested this can take as long as 55 hours.
The wash is then distilled to a strength of around 90% alc./vol. This base spirit is then rectified through four different column stills to around 96% alc./vol. Interestingly, Absolut wanted to build this rectifying column towering 40 metres high, but due to the local airport and planning restrictions the still had to be split in two 26 metre columns.
A little ‘character’ is added to this very pure and almost neutral spirit with the addition of a more characterful spirit. This is made from specially selected grain that undergoes a different and separate wash process before being distilled to a slightly lower proof. Although comprising of a low percentage of the bottled vodka, this spirit helps give Absolut its distinctive bready character.
Absolut’s flavoured vodkas are made by blending natural flavour extracts with the very pure neutral spirit and most are made without the additional character spirit used to made original Absolut being added.
The final spirit is diluted to bottling strength using demineralised water drawn from the distillery’s own wells. Unlike many other vodkas, Absolut is not charcoal filtered and does not undergo any other form of chemical filtration.