Review / Spirits

Scandinavian Spirit – Aalborg Akvavit

I came into work on Monday morning to find this hefty 1 litre bottle of Aalborg Akvavit on my desk, a Danish flavoured spirit. A colleague had won it in the Christmas raffle, taken one sip, decided he didn’t like it, and thought that giving it to me was the easiest way to dispose of it.


Scandinavian spirit!

Akvavit (Or Aquavit) has been made in Scandinavia since the 15th century, and is commonly drunk during social events such as Christmas and weddings. The name comes the Latin “aqua vitae”, meaning the water of life.

It starts off as a distilled grain or potato spirit, which is then flavoured with a combination of herbs and spices (Such as caraway, dill, cardamom, cumin, anise) or fruit oils. It can be aged in oak casks to give it colour and flavour, or left clear and un-aged.

Aalborg’s Jubileaum Akvavit was launched in 1946 to celebrate the company’s Taffel Akvavit’s 100 year jubilee. It’s made with dill and coriander seeds, with American white oak extract. The herbs give it an interesting aroma, a bit like Vermouth.

Having no idea what do with this spirit, I consulted Joe Fattorini from ITV’s The Wine Show, who having a Swedish fiancé, was very helpful. He recommended serving it as a shot, chilled in the freezer, and with food, such as gravlax (A Nordic dish of raw salmon, cured with salt, sugar, and dill). Unfortunately I hadn’t prepared any gravlax in advance, so a solo shot chilled in the freezer it had to be.

When tasting, the herbal flavours were prominent, with slightly spicy woody ones following soon after, with the warming feel of the 40% alcohol. The aftertaste was unusual, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I was sensing.

I’d describe Akvavit as an acquired taste, so it definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. However, it’s something a bit different to tick off my drinks adventure. Now to find a recipe for gravlax…



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