The story begins in 2004 in the little picturesque town of Mariefred, situated in the center of Sweden. The clock has struck 1 this warm summer afternoon in June. I have just finished lunch and am riding along on winding roads, straddling my Road King. Magnificent views of lakes, forests and plains meet me wherever I look.
The old chateaus and mansions succeed each other in the Sörmlandic idyll. I am approaching the avenue leading up to my fathers childhood home, Vappersta manor, which I havent visited since I was a little boy. I take off my helmet, ride without it the last part of the way and let the wind run through my now greying hair.
My thoughts go back to the time when my father used to take me hunting on the property. He would tell me stories about life on the farm and about the people living there, going all the way back to the era of the Vikings. The heat from the sun makes me start daydreaming and reminisce.
I remember the biting cold and the beautiful sparkling snow surrounding us, as my father and I plodded through the snow in pursuit of game one winter day. Suddenly, I feel a twinge in my stomach, just like when it happened when I was a little boy, from the memory of the shot going off when a hare suddenly appeared in front of us.
I stop at the old rune stone that our forefathers once erected, turn off my Road King, take my leather jacket off and for a while look at the strange inscriptions. As I sit down, leaning against the big stone, I feel the wing strokes of history spreading in my mind and thoughts. I glance into the chrome of the bike and the suns rays blind me for a moment, sending my thoughts back to the time of the old Scandinavian Vikings again.
I try to imagine what life could have been like during their merchant trips, voyages of discovery and pitched battles. Tough, strong and with great stamina these people must have been, in their simple world and with their proud ships travelling from land to land, country to country. Who were they, who chose to settle and practice trade in the old sites of Mälardalen? Who were they, who travelled far and wide to explore the world or fight in a battle?
Did they, as they rounded the cape of a new country, feel the same way I feel when I speed around a curve of the road, or over the brow of a hill, not knowing what to expect ahead? Or did they perhaps feel the same eagerness and zest for life, as the people who first set their foot on the moon or in outer space? Did they get an exhilarating feeling in their stomachs, just like me, when the prey fell to the ground? Were these Scandinavian Vikings happy? Did they feel love toward their families and friends? Or were work and the hunt for food just toil and moil? Were they at ease in body and soul? The questions, which scientists and story-tellers have yet to answer, are many and give room for both imagination and dreams. What if history one day could give us the answers!
When I later wake up from my imaginary world, I feel this energy in my body, an energy that makes me want to somehow share the feeling and story of this wonderful idyll, which cannot be described in words. I straddle my Harley again and ride it slowly towards home in the lovely summer night, when Im struck by the thought! How can I pass this wonderful feeling on to others around me? The thoughts keep turning in my head as I ride in the night. I pass the avenue leading to Gripsholm Castle and the distillery belonging to it. I stop at the side of the road, turn off the engine and watch the beautiful surroundings in the warm summer night. Deer have come out from their hiding at dusk, and I watch them walk along the water, looking for food. Yes, we are all Gods creatures, and, in one way or another, in constant search for food for survival. Man as well as animal. Once again, I turn the ignition key and feel the rumble from the engine embracing me the way it always does.
We are one, my Road King and I.
I continue my journey, and I find myself heading home, to my own driveway. I turn back the key and the magnificent rumble from the engine is silenced. The only sounds in the summer night are the chirping of the birds and the flapping wings of the bats. They, too, are busy looking for food for their young ones, who will later pass life and historys development on.
At this point, I am exhausted, but sleeping is the furthest thing from my mind after this wonderful trip down memory lane. I go inside the house and straight to the refrigerator, fill a glass with ice and delicious cold vodka, and while listening to the crackling sound in the glass as the ice cracks, I sit down on my veranda to enjoy the calm of the night. While sitting there, my thoughts go to my cousin on the other side of the globe, who once asked:
Can you find a way to share the Scandinavian feeling,
the way you describe it? Can you describe the feeling of beauty,
courage and purity that history tells it?
It felt as if his question was as taken right out of my own thoughts. The one I had asked myself this beautiful day, while I was taking a trip down memory lane and to the world of the old Scandinavians: How can I find a way to describe this amazing experience to other people? I take a sip of the cold vodka, and warmth spreads slowly throughout my body and soul. My thoughts wander back to the old distillery by the chateau and the clear water of Lake Mälaren.
I think about the old Scandinavians and their experience in making their own vodka, and their vast knowledge of flavouring the liquid with herbs and plants.
Could I do the same thing?
The research on plants and herbs that the botanist, Carl von Linné, performed, has given the Scandinavians more knowledge, experience and interest for flavouring and spicing their vodka and foods than in many other cultures. This knowledge and experience have been passed on, from father to son and from mother to daughter, for many generations. These thoughts lead me in to everything I have learned from my father and my mother; the love for your fellow beings and animals; how to stand up for what is right and wrong; how to appreciate and care for what God and nature have given us.
I want to do it. I will do it!
The thoughts keep chasing me until about a week later, when I meet my dear friend, the designer, Malin Mattsson. I tell her about my thoughts and my travels from ancient to present times. I tell her about my thoughts and wish to share the feeling with my fellow beings. To bring out a product, in the shape of vodka, and its flavour and message would give my fellow beings in other countries, far from Sweden, a taste of my Scandinavian heritage.
So, get started then! What are you waiting for?
The time is now, not yesterday and not tomorrow. Now!
Malin says laughing. The discussion continues while we each enjoy a glass of deliciously cold vodka on the rocks. A few days later, Malin calls, cheerful and full of expectation, and invites herself over. She says:
I have something for you.
Something you have been waiting a long time for.
Malin arrives, sits down on my couch opposite me, while holding a roll of parchment in her hand. She looks deeply into my eyes as she hands me the roll and says:
We care for one another, dont we, dear old friend?
I am giving you this from me and your father,
whether you will use it or not.