The ABC of Spirits by Alexandre Vingtier: A for Aquavit

A for Aquavit

Whether Danish, Norwegian or Swedish, or even Finnish or German, aquavit/ akvavit/akevitt is still a classified category outside Scandinavian countries and their diaspora. Paradoxically we are more familiar with its name than its taste. You must have had the chance to be introduced to during a meal of herring and other fish from the Baltic and the North Sea. Fortunately, it is undergoing an unprecedented revival.

While the main distilleries and their dozens of brands with aromatic, shy, profiles are sometimes in the hands of a single group, their market share is increasingly being grasped by the production of new, highly versatile handcraft distilleries, a local transposition of North American craft distilleries (some of which have converted to produce aquavits across the Atlantic). Both aquavit and gin are produced there, her English cousin with whom she shares many common points. It is also a refreshing spirit based on neutral alcohol, not dominated by juniper berry but by dill and/or caraway and its spicy and aniseed accents that are more pronounced than cumin.

My tastings in recent years have led me to discover real treasures, often featuring little-known herbs from Northern Europe, such as myrtle from the marshes. Something to go beyond the aromatic horizon of gins which sometimes become gimmicks, here we do not yet know strawberry or raspberry aquavits even if the race for original herbs is launched as with the productions of Monica Berg, owner of the Himcock bar-distillery in Oslo, who had fun creating an aquavit with herbs brought back from Amazonia… It can also be aged in barrels. It’s a whole new world for our taste buds. Some importers and bartenders have understood the interest of this highly gastronomic spirit so now is the time to switch!

If you would like to explore this subject further, I invite you to read the excellent work Akvavit – Rediscovering a Nordic Spirit by Sune Risum-Urth and Rasmus Poulsgaard published by Two Guys Publishing in August 2017. Many cocktails recipes are presented.


Alexandre Vingtier


Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.

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