6 Aquavit’s Packed With Scandinavian Tradition


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Aquavit (also known as akvavit and akevitt) is the national drink of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, and their interpretation of vodka or gin. Packed with the distinctive flavour of caraway, the best aquavit brands offer a bitter, liquorice kick like no other.

Traditionally drunk neat, aquavit is enjoyed on special occasions in its homelands as an accompaniment to food such as smoked fish or spicy sausage and also complements beer. 

The Swedes and Danes usually drink it as chilled shots, whereas the Norwegians enjoy the taste of aged aquavit at room temperature. You can even mix it into your favourite cocktail in place of vodka or gin!

Best Aquavit Brands

I’ve selected 6 of the best aquavit brands you will find across Scandinavia, giving an insightful introduction to this fascinating spirit.

1. Linie Aquavit

Linie Aquavit
Credit: Linie

Overview

  • Distiller: Linie
  • ABV: 41.5% (83 Proof)
  • Country: Norway
  • Colour: Soft Gold

Review

Lysholm Linie is a Norwegian aquavit distilled from potatoes and a 200-year old recipe that includes caraway, fennel, dill, star anise, coriander, and other herbs and spices.

This potato-based aquavit is distilled and flavoured before undergoing an unusual maturation process. The ex-sherry casks are loaded onto a ship and take a four-month trip to Australia, crossing the equator twice. Check the back of the front label, and you will see the name of the ship and the two crossing dates.

On The Nose

Caraway and liquorice/aniseed, orange peel and vanilla

On The Palate

Caraway and star anise upfront lead to spicy oak and sweet vanilla mid-palate. A well-balanced lingering smoky oak finish with caraway, sherry, and liquorice notes.

Best Served

Serve it neat at room temperature in a tulip-shaped glass. Traditionally pairs well with fish dishes and also works well with beer.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

2. Åhus Akvavit

Åhus Akvavit
Credit: Åhus

Overview

  • Distiller: Åhus
  • ABV: 38% (76 Proof)
  • Country: Sweden
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Distilled in the tiny seaside Swedish town of Åhus since 1906 at a distillery known as ‘The Spirit Church’, this aquavit takes a modern approach to the spirit and pairs well with any number of international cuisines. 

A Swedish aquavit, Åhus is distilled from winter wheat macerated with caraway, fennel, rosemary, lemon peel, and Seville orange peel. I felt it is very gin-like in its delivery.

On The Nose

Rosemary, caraway and citrus peel.

On The Palate

Bright, herbaceous/forest fresh, and subtly sweet, with caraway and rosemary mingling with pepper and orange zest, leading to a slightly bitter, woody finish.

Best Served

Enjoy Åhus aquavit neat at below room temperature or pair with tonic water and ice. The brand themselves also recommends a Chica Sueca cocktail.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

3. Aalborg Taffel Akvavit

Aalborg Taffel Akvavit
Credit: Aalborg

Overview

  • Distiller: Danish Distillers
  • ABV: 45% (90 Proof)
  • Country: Denmark
  • Colour: Clear

Review

In 1838, a 17-year-old Pole named Isidor Henius came to Århus in Denmark, having already gained some experience with spirits. In 1846, he opened his new factory in Aalborg and launched this aquavit.

Aalborg has been distilling this ‘taffel’ (table) or unaged aquavit ever since; it is the world’s most sold aquavit. It is distilled from wheat and flavoured with caraway and other exotic spices.

On The Nose

The bitter liquorice note of caraway dominates.

On The Palate

Strong caraway from the start, with dill, black pepper, and a hint of orange peel, leading to a lingering cumin finish.

Best served

Aalborg Taffel Akvavit is best served neat, chilled straight from the fridge or freezer, and it pairs well with seafood, spiced sausage or pork. A great substitute for vodka.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

4. Svöl Danish-Style Aquavit

Svöl Danish-Style Aquavit
Credit: Svöl

Overview

  • Distiller: Svöl
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: America
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Despite being a Danish company, Svöl distils their aquavit at the New York Distilling Company in Brooklyn (source). They have sourced botanicals from various parts of the world to create aquavit in the different national styles. 

Their Danish-style aquavit is distilled from barley, corn, and rye. It is macerated with caraway, angelica root, birch bark, coriander, lemon peel, rosehip, and Cape gooseberry.

On The Nose

Caraway dominates, with floral overtones and a hint of lemon.

On The Palate

Caraway and rosehip mingle with citrus and coriander, leading to a rye finish—distinctly gin-like aquavit.

Best Served

Best served neat and chilled, the Svöl brand also recommends plenty of Aquavit cocktails, even a Danish Negroni!

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

5. Spirit Of Hven Organic Aquavit

Spirit Of Hven Organic Aquavit
Credit: Spirit Of Hven

Overview

  • Distiller: Spirit of Hven
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Sweden
  • Colour: Amber

Review

Located on the island of Hven in Öresund, Sweden, the Spirit of Hven distillery makes aquavit from organic wheat and botanicals before maturing it in oak barrels. The distillery has its own laboratory and offers guided tours

A Swedish aquavit, Spirit of Hven is made from organic wheat, matured in oak before and after distillation, and infused with caraway, dill, fennel, St. John’s wort, and citrus peel. 

On The Nose

Caraway, Vanilla, citrus, light oak.

On The Palate

A strong carraway opening, with vanilla and smooth oak mid-palate with subtle herbaceous citrus notes. A lingering oaky vanilla finish.

Best Served

Best served neat and chilled in the traditional way, pair with Fever-Tree tonic water for a long drink.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

6. O.P. Anderson Aquavit

O.P. Anderson Aquavit
Credit: O.P. Anderson

Overview

  • Distiller: O.P. Anderson
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Sweden
  • Colour: Clear

Review

O.P. Anderson Aquavit is distilled from wheat and infused with organic botanicals, including caraway, fennel, cumin, and aniseed. Unusually for Swedish aquavit, it is aged for a minimum of six months in oak.

Named after its founder, Olof Peter Anderson, this aquavit has been in the family for over 125 years and was first presented at the 1891 Gothenburg (Göteborg) Exhibition Fair in Sweden.

On The Nose

Caraway and fennel dominate, with hints of vanilla.

On The Palate

Clean and dominated by fennel, with welcoming spice, vanilla, and light oak, leading to a heavy caraway finish.

Best Served

Best served neat and chilled and pairs well with salty fish. Also, try it in a feisty martini or a Swedish Mule

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

Seperator

Ingrid’s Top Pick

best Aquavit

Linie Aquavit

I have chosen Linie Aquavit as my top pick because it balances the bitter liquorice note of caraway and star anise with hints of spicy oak, sherry and vanilla.

Q&A Aquavit

Caraway
Caraway must be the main flavouring in aquavit

What Is Aquavit?

Aquavit is a neutral spirit distilled from grain in Sweden and Denmark or potatoes in Norway. So far, it’s vodka. However, they flavour aquavit with caraway, dill (or both), and in Sweden, fennel. Without these vital botanicals, and at an ABV of at least 37.5%, it cannot legally be called aquavit.

How Is Aquavit Made?

Aquavit begins as a fermented grain or potato mash (depending on the country), infused with caraway/dill/fennel botanicals and others such as cumin, anise, cardamom, coriander, citrus peel, clove, and juniper. It is then distilled and blended with pure water.

Is Aquavit Aged?

Most aquavits are filtered with charcoal and bottled straight after distilling without ageing, except in Norway, where it is usually aged in oak or alder barrels for a few years. Some aquavit is aged for as much as 20 years. The designation ‘taffel’ or table indicates unaged aquavit.

What Does Aquavit Taste Like?

Caraway is the most dominant note that gives aquavit a slightly bitter, liquorice flavour with subtle citrus hints that lean towards savoury rather than sweet.

Danish aquavit shows notes of coriander and dill; Swedish aquavit tends toward anise and fennel. In contrast, Norwegian aquavit is more complex, with cumin, citrus peel, and mellow woody vanilla notes.

Conclusion

The best aquavit brands can all be enjoyed neat as an accompaniment to traditional Scandinavian fish dishes or substitute for your favourite gin and vodka cocktails!

If you love the slightly bitter, liquorice, and zesty taste of caraway, I’m sure you will enjoy these flavourful aquavit brands, which represent Scandinavia’s best.

Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, cocktail recipes and more.

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