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Akvavit

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Eit glas akevitt.jpg

Akvavit or aquavit is a traditional flavoured spirit that is principally produced in Scandinavia, where it was already being produced in the 15th century. It gets its distinctive flavor from spices and herbs, most often from caraway. It typically contains 40% alcohol by volume. Akvavit is an important part of Scandinavian drinking culture. It is usually drunk during a formal procedure called "drinking snaps". Akvavit is often drunk quickly from a small shot glass. This is usually attributed to tradition. Akvavit arguably complements beer well, and its consumption is very often preceded, or followed, by a swig of beer. Purists generally lament this practice, claiming that the beer will ruin the flavour and aftertaste.

Akvavit, like vodka, is distilled from either grain or potatoes. After distillation, it is flavoured with herbs, spices, or fruit oil. Commonly seen flavours are caraway, cardamom, cumin, anise, fennel, and lemon or orange peel. Dill and "grains of paradise" are also used. The Danish distillery Aalborg makes an akvavit distilled with amber.

The recipes and flavours differ between brands, but caraway is typically the dominant flavour. Akvavit usually has a yellowish hue, but this can vary from clear to light brown, depending on how long it has been aged in oak casks. Normally, a darker colour suggests a higher age or the use of young casks, though artificial caramel colouring is permitted. Clear akvavit is called taffel; it is typically aged in old casks that do not colour the finished spirit.

The earliest known reference to akvavit is found in a 1531 letter from the Danish Lord of Bergenshus castle, Eske Bille to Olav Engelbrektsson, the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Norway.

Among the most important brands are Løiten, Lysholm and Gilde from Norway, Aalborg from Denmark and O.P Andersson from Sweden. While the Danish and Swedish variants are normally very light in colour, most of the Norwegian brands are matured in oak casks for at least one year and for some brands even as long as 12 years, making them generally darker in colour. While members of all three nations can be found to claim that "their" style of Akvavit is the best as a matter of national pride, Norwegian akevitt tend to have, if not the most distinctive character, then at least the most overpowering flavour and deepest colour due to the aging process.


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References

Akvavit , en.wikipedia.org

akvavit , www.websters-online-dictionary.org

Akvavit , www.foodista.com