Sweden nurtures a profound passion for malt whisky, with a growing group of distilleries producing their own spirit, a network of specialist whisky bars across the country, and one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated audiences for single malt you’ll find anywhere. Society partner bar Ardbeg Embassy in Stockholm is at the heart of the country’s whisky scene.
Tell us about your background and how you ended up running a whisky bar
I’ve always been involved in the hospitality industry, starting from the age of 13 when I had my first job working in a pizza restaurant. I began by learning how to prepare and bake pizzas. My two older brothers and I went on to open our first restaurant together in 1992, which had a typical Swedish style, and we are still companions.
So I’ve worked in the industry pretty much all my life, and I’ve always had a great interest in whisky that I’ve been able to develop over the years. When my brothers and I took over what would become Ardbeg Embassy in 2010, my whisky interest grew even more and today it’s one of my greatest passions in life. I now try to track down many different whiskies each month, and devote time to travel to whisky shows both in Sweden and across the rest of Europe.
What can you tell us about Ardbeg Embassy?
For a start, it’s right in the heart of Stockholm’s beautiful ‘Old Town’ district, Gamla Stan, which is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval city centres in Europe and one of the city’s main attractions. The whole area is full of narrow, winding cobble streets and distinctive buildings that make you feel like you’ve stepped back into the Middle Ages.
Ardbeg Embassy itself is in a beautiful old building known as Von Der Lindeska Huset, which dates back to the 1630s. We’ve been here for almost 17 years, although we’ve had some name changes along the way, from Ardbeg Room, to Glenfiddich Warehouse 68, and in February 2012 we changed it again to Ardbeg Embassy.
What’s the concept for the bar?
The bar is built around the idea of serving not only fantastic malt whisky but on pairing it with wonderful food. When you step inside you can immediately see that the walls are lined with whisky bottles, and we use a lot of that whisky in the food that we serve. We serve a classic dish known in Sweden as biff Rydberg, or beef and potatoes, that we spray with peated whisky. We also have a homemade ice-cream that is flavoured with whisky.
What about your whisky collection?
We now stock close to 400 different bottles of single malt whisky, and around 30 of them are different Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottlings. We were the first SMWS partner bar in Sweden and the response from our customers to the Society’s green bottles has been overwhelmingly positive. The fact that there are many whisky lovers who visit Ardbeg Embassy is probably also due to the level of knowledge from our staff, who all share a great passion for their roles here and for the wider world of whisky.
What else can members expect when they visit Ardbeg Embassy?
It’s not all about whisky – we have a broad assortment of beers on offer from Swedish micro-breweries and also great, well-made food that makes use of Sweden’s best seasonal ingredients. You could even try our reindeer dinner or filet of moose! I’m also extremely proud that Ardbeg Embassy has been recognised as Sweden’s best whisky bar by Svenska Whiskyförbundet, the Swedish Whisky Federation.