Westervik Gin: Swedish gin has been revived in this historic city of trade
By Xander Brett | Photos: Westervik Gin
In Kalmar County, around three hours south of Stockholm, the city of Västervik is reclaiming its history as a centre of liquor production. Working closely with the local museum, Westervik Gin is the movement’s driving force.
Västervik – an archipelago settlement in northeast Småland – was known for years as ‘bränneriholmen’ (meaning ‘liquor-distillery island’). Over time, the title lost currency. But Westervik Gin is on a mission is to reclaim it. The gin company’s founder Christer Larsson says his revelation came on the island of Gotland, when he noticed all the bars in Visby were selling the same brand of gin.
Hoping to corner the underdeveloped market with his own brand of local gin, he gathered eight friends to present his vision and recruit support. Everyone was on board. Today, Westervik Gin is the name on the shelves, and ‘bränneriholmen’ once again adorns a locally produced gin.
Backbone flavours in the range include classic gin-notes of juniper and cardamom. “Our dry gin is the most popular,” says the company’s resident ‘taste master’, sommelier Calle Hydbom Ulvaeus. “But we’ve also had a really positive reaction to our pink gin.” Westervik Gin can be ordered for delivery and bought in Sweden’s Systembolaget network, where the high-quality gin stands shoulder to shoulder with the country’s most beloved aquavits.
“Alcohol is what Västervik was built on. The industry helped to build schools and invest in railways, and Västervik became the first town in the county to adopt electricity,” Larsson explains. That’s why Westervik Gin is committed to giving back, and the company has already donated to the local museum, helping them stage an exhibition about the city’s liquor history. “We have the same philosophy as our forefathers,” says Larsson.
Downtown Västervik is right on the coast of the Baltic Sea, where its cluster of islands and vast golf course are the sum of its developing tourist industry. Västervik remains a city of traders; its harbour provided easy access for merchants in the liquor trade, and the surrounding forests supplied oak for the warships of Gustaf Vasa, Sweden’s ‘founding father’. Today, all is peaceful, save for the cry of seagulls. Västervik is a myriad of boulevards and alleys lined – thanks to this army of nine – with well-stocked bars.
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