Absolut Vodka is a brand of vodka, produced near Åhus, in southern Sweden. Absolut is owned by French group Pernod Ricard; they bought Absolut for €5.63 billion in 2008 from the Swedish state. Absolut is the third largest brand of alcoholic spirits in the world after Bacardi and Smirnoff, and is sold in 126 countries.
Absolut was established in 1879 by Lars Olsson Smith and is produced in Åhus, Sweden. Smith challenged the city of Stockholm's liquor marketing monopoly with his vodka. It was sold at a lower price than the monopoly's product, just outside the city border. Smith even offered free boat rides to the distillery and "Rent Brännvin" made Smith a fortune.
In 1917, the alcohol industry in Sweden was monopolized by the Swedish government. Vodka was then sold nationwide under the name "Absolut Rent Brännvin". The name changed with intervals, Renat Brännvin or Absolut Rent Brännvin. In 1979, the old name Absolut was picked up when the upper-price range ABSOLUT VODKA was introduced. Renat is still a euphemism for spirits in Sweden, and the name of another vodka product by Vin & Sprit.