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  • Writer's pictureDane

Drinks with Dane | Week 11

I hope everyone has had a safe and fun holiday. This week we’re going to be talking about one of my favorite spirits: Aquavit.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!


Aquavit is a Scandinavian delight and is an up and coming spirit in the American market and I think it will be a hot category next year.

Aquavit is a Scandinavian flavored spirit. It typically has a neutral base of potato or grain and is flavored with caraway, dill, fennel, coriander, citrus peel, and cardamom. The types of spices used in flavoring vary from region to region, some more caraway forward and some more dill forward. It is mostly an un-aged spirit with the exception of Norway, which will age some aquavit in sherry casks which mellows and imparts some oak and vanilla tones.

Thank you for your support and please tag me @drinkswithdane on Instagram or #DrinksWithDane so I can raise a glass with you!

 

Aquavit Guide

Norwegian Aquavit

Norwegian Aquavit was granted a PGI in February 2020. It can be bottled between 37.5% and 60% ABV. It must be made from a potato base and 95% of the potatoes must be grown in Norway. The main flavoring must be caraway or dill and may include aniseed, celery seed, chamomile, coriander seed, fennel seed, grains of paradise, dried lemon peel, dried bitter orange peel, and star anise. It must be aged from 6 months in an oak cask 1,000 liters or smaller, or 1 year in a larger cask. Traditional casks used are sherry, port, and madeira but new casks may also be used. Caramel coloring may be used to adjust color, however no additional sugars may be added.

Linje or Linie Aquavit is unique to Norway. It has been aged on a boat that has crossed the equator twice (Linje referring to the equatorial line). Often the route of the boat is on the label. The continuous rocking of the boat aids for faster maturation by agitation of the spirit in the barrel and the constant humidity changes from tropical climates to colder ones also accelerates evaporation (Angel’s Share) within the cask. All of this helps to speed up the maturation process in the barrels.

Svensk (Swedish) Akvavit PGI

Swedish Aquavit received its PGI status in 1994. It can be between 37.5% and 50% ABV. It is flavored with cumin and/or dill and fennel seeds as well as other spices. The taste of fennel is always perceptible and gives Swedish Aquavit its character that distinguishes it from others. It should be clear in color. The base spirit for Swedish Aquavit must be made in Sweden and can be made of any grain or potato that has been grown in Sweden.

Danish Aquavit

In Denmark, Aquavit is often referred to as snaps. It is an important part of the Danish diet and has been for several hundred years. It is often served cold and with traditional smørrebrød lunch of pickled herring. It is typically made from grain and has a light, if not clear appearance.

Finnish Aquavit

Finland has focused on vodka production for most of its history. Ironically it is also one of the largest producers of caraway. Recently there has been a shift to produce its own style of Aquavit. Helsinki Distilling Company was launched in 2014 and has created its own craft Aquavit. It was the first locally produced Aquavit in Finland in over a century.

Icelandic Aquavit

Black Death Brennivín (Aquavit) earned its nickname during the 1930’s when Iceland's prohibition was partially repealed allowing alcohol sales again. The government wanted to discourage people from drinking hard spirits and put the famous black label on the bottle. It had the opposite effect, and quickly became the island's national liquor. This is a cumin and caraway dominant spirit that has a distilled potato base similar in style to Norwegian Aquavit.

North American Aquavit

Over the last few years, Aquavit has become a popular craft spirit in North America. With many Scandinavians immigrating to the Midwest and Canada in the early 20th century, these cities are now playing host to a new wave of modern craft spirits. North American producers are redefining Aquavit for the modern palate using traction from the growing popularity of the gin market. Lighter and more dill forward Aquavits are becoming popular with craft bartenders and craft spirit fans.

 

Cocktail of the Week: Valkerie

This week we have a twist on a Vesper, the classic James Bond cocktail.


We’ll be doing ours with a dill forward Aquavit and a good measure of dry French vermouth with a touch of gin to balance it all out.

To top it off we're garnishing with dill and bleu cheese stuffed olives. This delicious and indulgent cocktail will bring a smile to any martini fan and convert a couple of gin fans over to Aquavit.

If you aren't an olive fan, try a twist of lemon. If you don't do dairy, then plain olives or almond or garlic stuffed olives work nicely as well.

 

What You’ll Need:

  • Dill Forward Aquavit

  • Gin

  • Blanc Vermouth

  • Large Pitted Olives

  • Bleu Cheese Crumbles

  • Fresh Dill

  • Mixing Glass

  • Stirring Spoon

  • Julep Strainer

 

Dill and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Olives

In a bowl add 1 Tbsp of bleu cheese crumbles and ¼ tsp of fresh finely diced dill. With the back of a fork mash to combine until consistent texture. Take a small ball of the mixture and stuff it into large pitted olives. Makes 4-8 depending on the size of olives.

 

Valkyrie

1 ½ oz Danske Aquavit from Norseman Distillery

1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth de Chambery

½ oz Townbranch Gin

Dill and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Olives for Garnish

Combine Aquavit, vermouth, and gin into a mixing glass filled with a generous amount of ice and stir until the glass is cold to the touch. Strain with julep strainer into a chilled martini glass and garnish with dill and bleu cheese stuffed olives. Salute!

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