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THE TIPPLING POINT | Can't Go to Finland? Bring it Home in This Carefully Sculpted Bottle

These days Finland goes around the world inside eye-candy bottles called Finlandia, a premium Finnish vodka that claims to capture the spirit of the place.

Manu Remakant |

Updated:January 21, 2018, 10:57 AM IST
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THE TIPPLING POINT | Can't Go to Finland? Bring it Home in This Carefully Sculpted Bottle
The Brown-Forman Company, which owns Finlandia, spend millions to get its iconic bottles and publicity campaigns designed in tune with the Finnish nature. (Getty Images)
News18 Tippling PointCan you stand long months without the sun? Temperatures dipping below minus 30°C, vistas laminated with an unnatural sheen thrown in by the auroras – fluorescent solar waves peculiar to polar skies.

In short, can you live in Finland?

Being closer to the polar region, all you would see for months is a bleak sun hanging on the horizon like an annoying grandfather clock, trying to pry open the eyelids of those who desperately want to sleep. S.A.D or Seasonal Affective Disorder may not affect native Finns much, but many travellers to the Nordic country plummet into the dark bed of depression without getting much sleep.

No wonder the Finns call their summer, ‘white nights’. They must find relief in high-octane drinks to pep up their spirits.

Finns consume slightly over ten litres of pure alcohol per person annually in the form of vodka, beer, schnapps, cider and other regional varieties to beat the queer sun on the horizon. Still, that’s not steep against the European average.

Come winter, the sun vamooses from the corner of the sky, and it would be time for a night that extends for months. Finns now mostly keep themselves to their cosy homes, sipping Kossu, or any other spirit that comes across while singing folk songs or listening to the ones those cold blasts howl outside in the dark. Like its days and nights, Finnish drinking is also a long affair — many believe, bingeing is man’s answer to arctic climate. Once they fortify themselves with spirits, they brave the dark, the weather, and head to the nearest pub in town.

“Kippis!” Cheers to that! A long evening begins; an evening that would not turn into daybreak for months.

FINLANDIA

If you are rich enough, book a ticket, get on to the next plane and fly over to see with your own eyes this magical place where time stands still, quivering in a bizarre light. Don’t fret if you aren’t that stinking rich. These days Finland goes around the world inside eye-candy bottles called Finlandia, a premium Finnish vodka that claims to capture the spirit of the place.

A unique blend of barley, the midnight sun process, and the purest water trickling from melting glaciers – Finalandia is one of the most coveted drinks in its genre.

Under a sun that refuses to shut its eyes for months, the six-row barley in Finland ripens in no hurry and feathers out into delicate strands of gold in time. They are harvested, mashed, fermented and distilled continuously until they yield a grain spirit with 96.5% by volume which is then transported (from Kosenkorva distillery in Western Finland) to a place far away, where it is anointed with a special sort of water.

Like the grain that mellows for a long day, water used in Finlandia has also got a story to tell, an epic travel story.

Elsewhere in distilleries, water is filtered, run over ozone and other punishing chemicals to sieve out its impurities. But Finlandia believes it is blasphemy to tamper with the delicate harmony of the liquid it gets from a sleepy village named Rajamaki. Here, they revere it. Tell me, how you can make water more pristine, if what you have got naturally trickles down from a glacial moraine created in the last ice age – 10,000 years ago! All they do is to maintain an unspoilt forest around the moraine in the village and keep themselves away.

The Brown-Forman Company, which owns Finlandia, spend millions to get its iconic bottles and publicity campaigns designed in tune with the Finnish nature. It was the famous sculptor Tapio Wirkkala’s efforts to capture the quintessence of Nordic land that resulted in the epic design of the first bottle. You’d find it difficult to sweep away the image of a melting icicle while holding the bottle high against the sky.

Campaigns – ‘Pure Water’, ‘Vodka from the top of the World’ and ‘1000 years of Less Ordinary Wisdom’ – soon took Finlandia to the top of the pyramid in little time.

Look closely at the bottle! You’ll see the image of reindeers and the midnight sun as the mascot. Finns believe if you catch the sun and white reindeer at the same time, you must make a wish and one will see it granted.

Time to hit the bottled icicle. Gently take a sip. Take it neat, roll it with your tongue, and slosh it against the walls. Close your eyes so that they can see.

Finland’s pristine air, water, untainted soils, the midnight sun, the thousand lakes and islands, glaciers, reindeers and whooper swans, pine trees and birches swirl up from your mouth and spark off a sequence of images, emotions and fantasies.

Time to make that wish.

(Manu Remakant is a freelance writer who also runs a video blog - A Cup of Kavitha - introducing world poetry to Malayalees. Views expressed here are personal)

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| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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