Aquavit: Water of Life

12 December, 2013

“At Aquavit our guests are not bound by ethnic traditions and often order a flight of three and sip them as a cocktail or sometimes even as an after-dinner drink. They also prefer our house-made flavours rather than the traditional ones,” says Swahn. “Our own is our best seller: AQNY White Cranberry. We also offer Linie Anise & Caraway, Aalborg Taffel Caraway & Orange, Krogstad Anise & Caraway.

“I prefer our own brand only because it’s has a natural, smooth flavour, is equally delicious neat, on the rocks or mixed in a cocktail replacing vodka, rum or tequila. In addition it’s only 70 proof giving it less of a bite on the tongue. For traditional taste, I prefer Linie as the trip over the equator in a cask has rounded out the flavour while keeping with tradition,” concludes Swahn.

Talking to two travel retailers, Marcus Skjörshammer, business development director of the Tallink Silja ferry company, which operates ferries between Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Germany, says: “We do sell some Norwegian, Swedish and Danish aquavits onboard, but they are not really huge in our part of the Nordics.”

Martin Arentz is assortment manager, Travel Retail Norway, which is owned by Gebr Heinemann and Norwegian health food and beauty care products group, Validus. It has duty free and duty paid shops in Norwegian airports including Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim and Kristiansand. He tells DI: “Aquavit is essential for our spirit business. It is a ‘must have’ as the majority of our customers are Norwegian, but also a much appreciated gift for tourists visiting Norway.

“We stock about 20 aquavits, but the best sellers are Lysholm Linie, Gammel Opland and Løiten’s Sommer Aquavit. My personal favourite is Gilde Maquavit – complex nose and taste with a bit of sweet aftertaste. Just enjoyed alone after a good meal and in front of the fireplace,” he says

“Everyone born and raised in Norway has a relation to aquavit in some way. But typically it is more popular among the more mature customers. For a Norwegian, Danish and Swedish aquavit is not ‘real’ aquavit. The mostly barrel-aged Norwegian aquavit makes it an even more complex taste.”

Arentz concludes: “Already today the producers and brand owners are doing a lot to highlight the image of the Norwegian aquavits. But there is still potential to reach out to the younger customers who are more into rum, Cognac and whisky. To be using different barrel types, maybe a bit sweeter aftertastes, using more smoky tones and making limited editions can attract an even wider crowd of appreciators of this truly Norwegian in heritage,” he says

The guys at Ruby say:

Risum-Urth: “We try to make people aware that aquavit is more than the harsh and ice-cold stuff you drink and wash down with pickled fish. Served at room temperature many are soft and lovely, served in a cocktail they add new and complex layers to the party.  

Kobbernagel-Hovind: “I definitely think a lot could be done. We have just started a project with Arcus to try to develop the category. I think there is a lot of potential and I think we should aim for ‘world domination’. Or at least a new wave of imbibers all over the world.” Kleist says: “I would have a closer look at the base spirit they use to make it with. The quality here is generally way too low.”

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