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Finland and Alcohol

Finland is considered a country of hard drinking people. Alcohol became a sad statistic in 2006 of becoming the number 1 cause of death for men and a close second for women in Finland. Figures for 2005 released by the state statistics agency showed alcohol killed more people aged 15 to 64 than cardiovascular disease or cancer.

Finland dropped the alcohol taxes radically on March 1st 2004. Prices of alcohol in Finland dropped around 22 percent. The primary reason for these taxes was to bring down the amount of alcohol brought outside Finnish borders, mainly from Russia and Estonia. But what did this booze-loving country do? Well started drinking more of course! And now they are considering of bringing the taxes back up...go figure =)

In my opinion, a Finn will keep on drinking no matter what the price is. At least I will (MetalGod).

Finlandia Vodka

Finlandia is a Finnish vodka produced from six-row barley. Of all Finnish products, it is the brand name that most foreigners associate with the country. Despite this it is almost exclusively directed at the export market. Finlandia was launched in Scandinavia in 1970 and in the United States in 1971. It is almost exactly the same alcohol as Koskenkorva[citation needed]. However, it has a slightly higher proof, 80, and lacks the small amount of sugar as in Koskenkorva. Even these minor modifications to the recipe result in a markedly dryer taste.

Today the Finlandia vodka brand is wholly owned by Brown-Forman Corporation, an American company. The contract between Altia and Brown-Forman determines that Altia remains the sole producer of Finlandia until at least 2017, and Altia produces the alcohol at the Koskenkorva distillery.

Links to Finlandia Vodka

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Koskenkorva Viina (also known simply as Koskenkorva, or Kossu) is the most common clear spirit drink (38%) in Finland, produced by Altia in the Koskenkorva distillery in Ilmajoki. The grain (barley) alcohol is produced using 200-step continuous distillation designed to produce high-purity industrial ethanol. The drink is produced by diluting this alcohol with spring water and a very small amount of sugar. Although commonly called a vodka in English, it is not considered a vodka in Finland. Instead, it is viina, simply "hard liquor", often used contextually similarly to the word "booze".

Besides the standard 38% near-unflavored there are several variants of Koskenkorva on the market, most notably the famous Salmiakki Koskenkorva, better known as Salmiakkikossu or Salmari, which is salmiakki-flavored. Another variant is the same Koskenkorva with rye instead of barley, marketed under the same concept as Koskenkorva Viina Ruis. There also exists a vanilla variant called Vanilja Koskenkorva. The Koskenkorva Vodka is the same drink, but with 40% or 60% alcohol instead of the traditional 38%, as this brand is intended for foreign markets. Finlandia Vodka, a vodka classified as "imported premium", is the same as Koskenkorva 40%, except that sugar is not added. Altia sold this brand, intended for foreign markets, to the American Brown-Forman Corporation, but remains the sole producer of Finlandia Vodka at least until 2017.

The Koskenkorva Viina bottle has a white label, with KOSKENKORVA VIINA - BR?NNVIN in black, and a drawing of a scenery of fields with barns on them in light brown. The rye variant has a light brown field in pale, with the text RUIS. Salmiakki Koskenkorva has a completely different black label.

Kossu is at its best when it's cold, but can be also mixed for example with Coke (then it's called "Kossukola"), with Vichy water ("Kossuvissy"), orange juice ("screwdriver"), energy drink ("Kossu Battery") or certain (hard) salmiakki candies (Salmiakkikoskenkorva, Salmiakkikossu, Salmari). The last is often made by mixing ground Turkinpippuri with kossu, though other candies of similar type are also a possibilty and there also exists a ready salmiakki mixer for this particular purpose [1]. Another way of enjoying kossu, which has gained popularity recently, is mixing ground Fisherman's Friends to the drink.

The Altia Corporation is owned by the state of Finland. As an independent corporation, Altia would be free to relocate the distillery, if it were sold to a private investor. When the government considered selling the corporation, a popular movement grew to oppose this. The Koskenkorva distillery is the largest buyer for the barley farmers in the area. Without the distillery, cultivation of barley in the region would probably cease.

Furthermore, Finnish people recognize Koskenkorva as one of the symbols of Finnishness. It would be unlikely that "foreign Koskenkorva" would be accepted by the Finnish home market. Ironically, many other vodka brands brandishing symbols of Finnishness, such as Leijona with the Lion of Finland or Suomi-Viina, are partially produced from Estonian or other foreign raw materials. Koskenkorva Viina, and its unsugared counterpart Finlandia Vodka are one of the few actually Finnish vodkas on the market.


  • Koskenkorva is a small village - that belongs to municipality of Ilmajoki - in Finland that translates as "(area) by the rapids". The folk etymology "rapid's ear" is based on the fact that korva also means "ear".
  • The original name of the drink was Koskenkorvan viina ? notice the genetive 'n' ? "liquor of Koskenkorva". The name was changed recently into Koskenkorva viina "Koskenkorva liquor". Furthermore, even older labels had the original name in the partitive as KOSKENKORVAN VIINAA "(some) liquor of Koskenkorva".
  • Irwin Goodman's song repertoire included "Koskenkorvassa" ("In Koskenkorva"), where nearly every line is a double entendre interpretable as either a praise to either living in Koskenkorva village or being drunk of Koskenkorva Viina.
  • In the song The Land Of Ice And Snow, Timo Tolkki, guitarist and songwriter of the Finnish heavy-metal band Stratovarius, describes Finland as the land "where Koskenkorva flows".

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Salmiakkikoskenkorva (Salmari)


Salmiakki Koskenkorva, (also Salmiakkikossu for short or generically as Salmari) is a pre-mixed vodka cocktail which caused a minor revolution in drinking culture in Finland during the 1990s. Today, Salmiakkikossu is the number one drink amongst locals and tourists in many pubs and nightclubs in Finland. Canonically it consists of Koskenkorva Viina vodka and ground up Turkish Pepper brand salty liquorice.

Before the 1990s, Finland had a very thin and stratified cocktail culture. A single episode of The Simpsons changed all that[citation needed]; at Moe's Tavern, Homer Simpson invents a new cocktail, the Flaming Moe, which is a huge hit and earns Moe a fortune. The cocktail consisted of cough medicine amongst other ingredients. Inspired by this, some Finnish drinking establishments started serving a similar drink made out of ground ammonium chloride (salmiakki in Finnish) based candy. It became a trendy drink especially amongst the youth of the day, for which some consider and call it a "Teenager's vodka".

However, one must note that the origin and recipe of the beverage are based on anecdotal reference. The concept of mixing vodka and licorice probably existed long before the 1990s, since both Koskenkorva Viina vodka and Turkish Pepper licorice existed before the alleged invention the cocktail. On the other hand, Salmiakki Koskenkorva was one of the first pre-mixed cocktails that hit the market in Finland. Another well-known anecdote says that singer Jari Sillanp?? invented the drink when he was working as a bartender in the late 1980s.

The taste of Salmiakki Koskenkorva resembles strongly that of black licorice and cough medicine (this is because the original mixture, see Apteekin salmiakki, used in Salmiakki Koskenkorva is also used in cough medicines), and has the additional effect of increasing salivation.

Tabloid scaremongering

Based on an urban legend of a mythical teenager who suffered a heart attack as a result of Salmari, tabloids were able to foment a furor strong enough for the state monopoly hard alcohol retailer to withdraw the premixed drink from sale throughout the country. They did not destroy their large stock, but merely warehoused it for five years, until the furor died down. Even when Salmiakkikossu was withdrawn, the effect it had on Finnish cocktail culture remained unabated. Salmari had brought cocktails to the masses.

Although the original rumor of heart attack was a hoax, the drink does have some dangerous properties (as do all strongly-flavored liquors). The strong flavor almost totally masks the presence of ethanol, and the imbiber may not realize he is consuming drink with almost 40% alcohol by volume (80-proof), leading to possible Alcohol poisoning.

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