A super-premium vodka has been launched in the UK taking inspiration from the pioneering Finnish artist known as Tom of Finland and his gay-themed illustrations.
Tom of Finland Organic Vodka takes its name from Touko Laaksonen who created distinctive drawings of gay men, often mustachioed, muscular and clad in leather, from the 1950s until his death in 1991.
It comes in a 50cl bottle featuring one of the classic illustrations that are reputed to have influenced the style of Queen’s Freddie Mercury.
The vodka itself is made in Finland by Lignell & Piispanen in Kuopio from organic grain – 95% wheat and 5% rye – and pure Arctic water, giving it a smooth and spicy character. With no added sugar, it is bottled at 40% ABV with a recommended price in retail of £32.50 for 50cl.
Olli Hietalahti, CEO of brand owner Spirit of Tom, said: “We wanted to create a super-premium Finnish vodka that truly embodies Tom of Finland – something bold, daring, flirtatious and playful, just like the artist’s renowned work.”
Brand manager Jo Sharff from Spirit Cartel added: “They wanted to pay homage to Tom of Finland and celebrate what is joyful and courageous, celebrating people who feel they can be out and proud. It’s not just for the gay community but celebrating what is wonderful and joyful about being yourself in life.”
Spirit of Tom has been set up by a team of ex-advertising creatives from One Eyed Spirits, the team behind Ron de Jeremy Rum – the brand launched with iconic porn star Ron Jeremy.
Currently available only in Finland and the UK, the vodka was launched to tie in with the release of a new Finnish feature film, Tom of Finland, about the artist’s life, starring Pekka Strang. It has its UK premiere at the East End Film Festival at Hackney Picturehouse on Friday June 30.
A percentage of profits from each bottle will be donated to the Tom of Finland Foundation, a charity dedicated to promoting tolerant attitudes towards sexuality and the preservation of erotic art.
The brand ambassador for the vodka is Niklas Hogner, a Swedish celebrity who was previously a world championship figure skater and competed in Sweden’s Dancing on Ice show on TV. He appears in the new Tom of Finland film in the role of Kake – the idealised gay character that appeared in many of the illustrations.
Spirit Cartel is initially launching Tom of Finland Organic Vodka through specialist retailers, bars and clubs in London but will be extending it soon to other cities such as Brighton and Manchester. It will be part of the line-up on Spirit Cartel’s stand at the Imbibe Live show in London in July.
Stockists include Gerry’s Wine & Spirits and Master of Malt along with wholesalers such as Venus Wine & Spirit Merchants.
Cocktails at last night’s launch at The Groucho Club in Soho in London were developed by the Groucho’s bar team such as a twist on a Clover Club, called the Seahorse Club, which was made with blueberry juice.
Other cocktails include the Nipa Martini, named after Touko’s long-term partner Veli ”Nipa” Mäkinen who was instrumental in getting Tom of Finland illustrations to the USA and on to global fame. It sees the vodka stirred over ice with dry vermouth and garnished with Finnish pickled cucumbers and dill.
Another cocktail was the Wild Joy Fizz made with Tom of Finland Organic Vodka, wild Finnish strawberries and cream, topped up with prosecco.
Tasting notes from Spirit of Tom
Aroma: clean aromas with subtle hints of rye spice.
Taste: no burn whatsoever – the first sip gently coats your mouth with a silky smooth oiliness. Vanilla and cream soda lead to a crescendo of spice that hints at cracked black pepper with wonderful star anise overtones.
Aftertaste: high notes of delicate spice, perfectly accompanied by a soft mellow finish.