The second vodka war at Fjäderholmarna

By the time Stockholm’s five-year alcohol policy expired, L.O. Smith had already started his own business in Karlshamn. The company exported spirits to Spain, but the profit was so modest that Smith submitted another bid to sell vodka in Stockholm. His application was rejected this time too. Full of confident from his previous victory in the first vodka war, he decided to fight the city authorities again.

First, he distributed an advertisement that offered spirits without additional tax. He then organized a free boat shuttle service to the island Fjäderholmarna, where spirits could be sold in the local shop. The boats quickly filled up and a long line of people formed outside the shop. This initiative did not go down well with the city’s decision makers, who did what they could to stop the business. During Easter 1883, the boat service attracted so many people that nine police officers had to be called in to keep order. At this point, the governor of Stockholm intervened. He ordered the county administrative board to take control of the situation. As all other attempts to stop Smith had failed, they decided to bribe Danielsson, the shopkeeper at Fjäderholmarna. The shop was closed down and the second vodka war had come to an end.

Between December 1882 and October 1883, about one and a half million liters of vodka were sold at Fjäderholmarna. The city of Stockholm earned 280,575 Swedish öre in customs fees (1 öre per pitcher).