Aquavit is no longer exclusive to the Nordic regions of the world. It currently hails from at least seven countries and a dozen states across the U.S. In addition to the caraway-infused classic, there are more varieties of aquavit than may be imagined.
While Norway claims two producers that own 15 brands of the spirit, the northwest states of Oregon and Washington combined create 21 brands from seven producers. California and Minnesota each have several producers and brands; and Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have joined the states that produce the beverage.
The economic theory of supply and demand is well illustrated by the inception of Skadi Aquavit, produced by the Montgomery Distillery based in Missoula, Montana. According to the company’s co-founder, the genesis of Skadi occurred when the distillery was approached by members of a local Sons of Norway lodge who keenly missed the presence of the spirit in their community. Before long, a local aquavit was available to them.
There are many flavors and nuances involved in producing Aquavit, often depending on region or simply the creativity of the producer. Aquavit may be distilled from grain or potato, and while caraway is often the dominant spice, an array of other zests are used, including dill, fennel, coriander, cumin, juniper, vanilla, bog myrtle, citrus and anise. The spirit may be unaged and clear, or aged in wood barrels that yield a golden liquid. In Norway, aquavit is typically distilled from potatoes and is cask-aged.
No matter the flavor or region of origin, there’s an accepted practice of how to properly skål prior to imbibing. Tradition has it that one looks his or her drinking partner in the eye before and after tossing back a glass of aquavit. Check out these gentlemen, including a then-young actor Max von Sydow, for guidance on how to perfect your toasting technique.