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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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The Holy Spirit: Tom Of Finland Vodka

Tom of Finland Vodka co-founder Olli Hietalahti on the spirit, the brand and the legacy of the infamous illustrations.

Super-premium vodka, artistically crafted in Finland, Tom of Finland Vodka comes from only the finest organically grown wheat, rye and pure arctic water. Bold yet smooth, it’s full of character, where the spiciness of the rye is balanced by the softness of wheat and arctic water.
The vodka is produced in small batches, with love and care, by Master Distiller Mika Mönkkönen at Lignell & Piispanen, the second-oldest family-run company in the country.

What truly sets it apart is that proceeds from every purchase go back to the Tom of Finland Foundation, a non-profit foundation established by Tom and his friend Durk Dehner in 1984 to preserve the artist’s catalogue of work. To find out more, we sat down with Tom of Finland Vodka co-founder Olli Hietalahti to get the lowdown on what makes the spirit so special.

How did the Tom Of Finland Vodka brand come about, what’s the story?

We were already in the spirits business with another brand when, in 2014, the Finnish Post published the iconic Tom of Finland stamps, which I believe still are the only homoerotic stamps in the world. We saw those and it just clicked. It was one of those wow moments where it all made sense. Everything that a great spirits brand requires was already there: aesthetics, values, message, loyal following and positioning. Our job was just to treat the Tom of Finland legacy with respect and to create a great liquid and outstanding packaging
that pays homage to his art. I think we did a really good job there.

What do you think sets it apart from other Vodka brands out there?

There are thousands of vodka brands for the mainstream. Tom of Finland Organic Vodka is the only one coming from the community. We have a completely unique positioning at the interesting intersection of gay culture, sexually tolerant and open lifestyles, design, art and fashion. Tom of Finland Organic Vodka is 100% gay all year round, not just during Pride month. It’s also one of the few fully organic vodkas out there and, of course, the liquid is fantastic. It’s “like drinking silk” as one vodka blogger put it.

Why do you think the Tom Of Finland brand is still so strong after all these years?

Tom’s pictures are iconic and part of today’s cultural fabric. His work has rippled through gay as well as straight culture worldwide. The drawings are synonymous with freedom of expression, influencing the aesthetic of cultural icons such as Freddie Mercury and trends including modern civil rights movements. The pictures offer a genuine message of acceptance and love that is and will always be relevant.

What’s your involvement with the Tom Of Finland Foundation?

We have an agreement with the Tom of Finland Foundation and work very closely with them. Proceeds from every purchase will go back to the Foundation.

Where are you currently stocked?

Bottles are available to buy from beverage-boys.com and Amazon, as well as in-store at Gerry’s Wine and Spirits in Soho, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges!

If a venue wanted to stock it, what should they do?

We’d love to have the vodka available in every gay venue and party! Please get in touch: jc@beverageboysldn.co.uk.

Can you tell us about your plans for 2023?
We’ll keep on telling the amazing story of Tom of Finland to people all over the world.

Finally; you’re making us a drink – what would be the mixer of choice?

Depending on the situation, you could do a simple Mule with lime juice and ginger beer.
Or if you want to go for a fancier drink, why not go for a cocktail? We have a bunch of recipes on our site that folks should check out.

Find out more and discover delicious cocktail recipes at TomOfFinlandVodka.com.
*Always drink responsibly. For the facts, visit drinkaware.co.uk.

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