Words by: Simon Difford
The word akvavit, like the word whisky, originates from the alchemical term 'water of life' - in Latin, aqua vitae. It is also known as aquavit. This flavoured white spirit is popular in Scandinavian countries, especially Denmark, where production centres on the town of Aalborg, its place of origin some 400 years ago.
Akvavit is distilled from potatoes or grain, and the resulting spirit is then redistilled with flavourings, which must include caraway. The EU definition states that akvavit must be 38% alc. /vol. or more and must be flavoured with caraway, though additional flavourings such as honey, whisky and sherry are also permitted and used.
Like Eastern European vodkas, akvavits are typically drunk from a frozen shot glass as a chaser. Alternatively, try adding akvavit to black coffee.
Launched on 1st August 2015 as a limited release of 45,000 bottles, Helbings Feiner Aquavit is made by the Heinrich Helbing of Hamburg and matured in PX sherry seasoned casks. Each numbered bottle indicates the cask number it was aged in. Pungent black liquorice, aniseed, dill and caraway.
Released in January 2016, This Norwegian aquavit was created by Master blender Ivan Abrahamsen using 11 different botanicals, including Norwegian caraway, star anise, coriander, bitter orange peels and ginger. Pungent caraway and coriander with lemon zest and an almost peppermint freshness.
Pronounced ‘LINN-yuh’, this Norwegian aquavit (AH-keh-veet) is distilled from potato and flavoured with caraway other herbs and spices including dill, fennel, anise and coriander before undergoing a very unusual maturation process. Caraway, liquorice juniper with herbal notes, faint toasted coconut and aniseed.
This crystal-clear Akvavit, the best-selling of the Aalborg range, is flavoured with caraway. The Danish poet Jørgen Vibe once wrote, ‘Aalborg Taffel lights the fires of delight. And keeps our spirits burning bright.’ ‘Taffel’, romantically enough, translates literally as ‘table’. Caraway and very faint aniseed.
Named after after Aalborg, the town where akvavit is said to have been first made in 1846 by Isidor Henius, Aalborg Export is seasoned with madeira wine but originally the golden colour and round taste were acquired by storing it in old madeira casks.
Jubilaeums (or Jubilee) is a golden akvavit with dill, coriander, star anise and citrus. Launched in 1946 to commemorate the centenary of the Aalborg, the most popular akvavits in Denmark - named after Aalborg, the town where akvavit is said to have been first made in 1846 by Isidor Henius. A very citrusy nose, orange zest predominates with a touch of lime oil. Licoricey dill aromas with faint star anise.
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