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Aquavit is a flavored spirit produced in Scandinavia and Germany, Aquavit (or Akvavit) is distilled from either grain or potatoes, and flavored with the addition of herbs and spices. Legally, the main ingredient must be either caraway or dill. It is traditionally drunk chilled from a shot glass. In Norway, most aquavit is aged in oak casks, and the result is complex and should be served in a tulip glass to enhance the flavor.
Aquavit is clear to pale yellow in color, dry in flavor, and ranging in alcohol content from about 42 to 45 percent by volume.
The beverage, produced in the Scandinavian countries, derives its name from aqua vitae (Latin: “water of life”), applied originally to liquor distilled from wine, and was made from imported wine; the product, therefore, was highly expensive until Swedish soldiers learned to make aquavit from grain. In the 18th century, the potato became an important raw material.
Swedish and Norwegian aquavits are sweet and spicy and of straw color. Sweden is the largest producer, manufacturing about 20 brands. Norway’s production, comparatively low, includes Linie Aquavit, so called because it is shipped to Australia and back (across the Equator, or Line) in Oak containers to produce mellow flavor. Finnish aquavit has a cinnamon flavor. The Danish product also called snaps, is colorless, with a pronounced caraway flavor. One of the best known Danish types is Ålborg akvavit, named for a small town in Jutland, on Denmark’s northern coast. The only brand exported from Denmark, it is produced by Danish Distilleries, a private organization granted the sole right to produce alcohol and yeast since 1927 under a monopoly of the Danish government.