I love it when a piece of history shows up on my doorstep. The Kanon Organic Vodka is made by the Gripsholm Distillery in Akers Styckebruk, Sweden. The old factory has been around since 1580, originally a combination distillery and foundry for making cannons during the reign of King Karl IX, the Protestant king who usurped the Catholic Sigismund. I don't know a lot about Karl IX, but for some reason I had to learn a lot about his son Gustav II Adolf, a fascinating figure. Ascending the throne at the age of 17, he became the leader of Protestant Europe against the Holy Roman Empire during the massive and bloody Thirty Years' War. 8 million people died during the conflict, which included armies from virtually every country in Europe plus the Ottoman Empire. Definitely a prelude for the modern industrial world wars that would follow (not just the two big ones, but others like the Seven Years' War of the mid-18th century).
Now, I have no way of knowing this for sure, but it's possible that a young Gustavus Adolphus took his first sip of liquor from the same distillery whose bottle now graces my humble Memphis abode. Skål, Gustav!
Kanon Organic Vodka
$25, 40% abv.
This vodka is distilled from locally grown organic wheat, and on top of that the distillery currently runs on wind and water power. There's a somewhat grainy flavor with a crisp finish--no citrus notes, but more earth and a touch of astringent bite on the end. Ultimately smooth but bracing. It works well in cocktails: I tried it with a Moscow Mule as well as a simple Vodka Tonic, and both got the personal seal of approval. Good all-around solid vodka with a fun story.
On top of that, it is an interesting bottle. While the design is a bit hard to make out (not enough contrast in that lower text!), I like the simple sans-serif font and the old metal seal of the cannon foundry. The sliced off cannonball cap is a nice touch, and I'll probably hang onto this bottle for fun even after its contents have gone the way of Sweden's non-neutral past.
P.S. One other odd bit of Swedish military history that I love but rarely get to mention. In the 19th century, the island of Visingsö was planted with oak trees in hopes of having shipbuilding supplies for necessary invasions of Germany or England or whoever needed to be fought... in 200 years. In the 1980s, the forestry service contacted the Swedish Navy and said, "Your trees are ready." Now it's a national forest.
Note: This spirit was received as a sample.