A chat with the Absolut Home Site Manager.
Johan Trollnäs is excited and so are we. Absolut Home has opened its doors to visitors! We’re proud to introduce our world class culinary and culture destination, built on legacy, local community and our purposeful company culture. We spoke with site manager Johan about why you’ll want to put our brand new Åhus destination on your itinerary.
Johan believes wholeheartedly in the legacy that drove the creation of Absolut Home, so first we should tell you about that. In the 1880’s, LO Smith’s efforts to bring his vodka to market were thwarted when Stockholm alcohol producers rallied together to ban from selling it in the city because his factory was – at the time – on a small island technically outside city limits. So, the entrepreneur got innovative. He built a shop attached to his factory on the island, published ads in the local paper and personally funded a steamboat shuttle service 72 times each day so people could come and buy his product. He built his beloved vodka a true home of its own.
LO’s legacy has been an inspiration for Absolut’s growth across the board, and our brand newAbsolut Homeis no exception. Johan talks us through why our innovative, community-driven visitor’s center is well worth a visit.
“It was all about timing,” says our destination’s site manager of its origins. “Absolut had dreamed of a brand home for many years, but there hadn’t been an opportunity to bring it to life until now.”
To Johan, one of the most important factors was rallying the local community of Åhus, which has been Absolut Vodka’s home for years. “Building a destination is something you do together as a group,” he explains. “It’s a team effort. I don’t just mean the team at The Absolut Company, but the whole town. It was important to us to be true to our word that if you can get enough people to visit a destination, the whole community benefits from it.”
When the estate next door to the factory became available, the timing seemed perfect. Dedicated construction teams spent two years developing the site to perfection: restoring the historic estate’s original features, replacing every tile on the roof and strengthening the building’s foundation.
The result? A comprehensive cultural experience under one roof. “I don’t want us to be like any other culinary destination. We’re not Modena or Champagne, we’re uniquely Absolut,” says Johan, as he explains how the Absolut Home experience works.
“When you arrive, you’re connected with one of our guides. They take you on a tour with a small group of 15 people, walking you through the history of the brand from its humble beginnings to what Absolut Vodka is today,” he says.
But it’s far more than just a live history textbook. Absolut Home is also about our people.
“Next, you meet the people who make up The Absolut Company; ourOne Community. We introduce you by name to some of the 405 local farmers who deliver wheat to Absolut. Once you learn about our proud sources, we walk you through how we make our vodka,” says Johan, adding, “We are the vodka with nothing to hide!”
Of course, no tour is complete without an appropriately refreshing reward. Your experience concludes with a lesson in epic cocktail making.
“We teach you to make a kick-ass Cosmopolitan. While you’re enjoying it, we showcase some of our iconic art, fashion and commercial productions past and present.”
By this point a sturdy appetite has no doubt been worked up, so guests can settle into the ultra welcoming Absolut Home restaurant, Villan, which has been fully booked since the day it opened. Johan, who has opened plenty of restaurants in his career, says the distinct difference here is the amount of overwhelmingly positive feedback.
“The response has been exclusively positive which is something I don’t think I’ve heard of before,” he says. “But the funny thing is, in spite of that I believe we have changed the menu three times in as many weeks and there isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t tweak something to improve our guests’ overall experience.”
And the Absolut Home experience continues to evolve. Soon, guests will be able to take part in an hourlong sensory experience to become expert vodka testers (and excellent home bartenders!).
We’re proud of who we are as a company. We’re also proud of the community that supports us, and since coming on board with The Absolut Company, Johan has felt the same in waves.
“Absolut has a fantastic company culture, but the same goes for the community of Åhus,” he says. “There are very few places where I have felt at home and welcomed right away. If you decide to come, you should plan for at least an extra day to visit a few other locations in the nearby community.”
And as for the future? Johan says this is just the beginning.
“We are going to follow the legacy of LO Smith who used his entrepreneurial spirit to influence other parts of society: promoting better pay for workers and gender equality long before those were household ideas in Sweden and around the world.”
What an exciting journey to be on.