Is Sweden hiding the world’s finest whisky collection?


Sweden’s biggest whisky bar is on Sweden’s second biggest island, Öland. That’s all you need to know.

Honestly. Don’t go asking the Swedes how many islands they have. Responses range from:

“Oover 200,000.”

“Aroond two dozen.”

“Aboot 400.”

They can’t decide on a number. That’s because of the varying schools of thought about what actually constitutes an island (and which hymn book they sing from). That last part isn’t true — most Swedes aren’t religious.

Anyway, too much time has been wasted already. You’re here to sample whisky, not count islands.

[Sorry to interrupt. Was just thinking, maybe this post should start here instead. See what you think, if you make it to the end.]

Word is that the family-owned Hotel Skansen is home to Sweden’s biggest whisky bar — Whisky Dram shop, which also gets talked up as one of the world’s best.

Fredrik serving Sweden's

Fredrik serving Sweden’s “biggest whisky bar”

The action takes place inside a buttercup-yellow, 19th-century timber hotel. Not very rock and roll, I know. But it is somewhat redeemed by a 400-year-old fortress that surrounds the hotel.

Inside, sitting at the bar, which could be anywhere in the world, there’s only a handful of stools.

Big must mean something else in Sweden.

Even holding a menu of 1000 whisky varieties, I’m just not feeling it.

Plan B — blow this joint off and check out the 50 beaches of frolicking Swedes. Yeah.

Then the barmen, Fredrik (son of the owner), extends me an invitation.

I follow him down a stairwell, and step into another world.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Amber hues, dark timber furnishings, well-worn leather sofas, and walls and walls of whisky bottles.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about

That’s what I’m talkin’ about

The cellar doubles as a meeting place for the mysterious Long Island Whiskey Club, which Fredrik’s father, Stefan, helped establish in 2004. Their mission — to hunt down, and bring home the world’s finest whisky.

Hit me up with one of your finest, Fred.

He steers me towards a single malt from another pristine island, some 15,000km (10,000 miles) away — Tasmania, Australia (the country’s second largest island).

I take a swig of the namesake Sullivans Cove.

Nice one, Fred.

[Alternative ending]

Hey Fred, just an aside. Australians also have problems counting islands. Many don’t actually refer to the mainland as an island. So I’m not sure if that second island theme holds up.

No worries, mate. Cheers.

Rob Dunlop