Aquavit: A new lease of life

22 August, 2018


Right now, the production of aquavit is consolidated mainly between two companies – Arcus and Altia – with a smattering of smaller brands, not many of which have meaningful export sales. But Arcus is bent on exploiting the new opportunities domestically and internationally. “With the hipster movement, there’s a surge back to authenticity, so between the ages of 18 and 25 we see a surge of relevance for aquavit,” says Toftkjær. Currently 38% of Arcus’s volumes are international, which is slightly skewed as Germany has a tradition of drinking the spirit and is the largest export market. But within three years Arcus plans for half its volumes to be sold outside Scandinavia. “We have every potential for huge growth internationally,” says Toftkjær. The boat-aged Linie aquavit is a focus, but Opland has been repackaged and repositioned and is now destined for export markets. Allied to that, the Finland-based, Nordic-wide company Altia opened a new aquavit distillery in Sweden to produce its flagship O.P. Anderson aquavit and smaller Swedish brands. When you see investments such as these, it’s undeniable that aquavit is moving in the right direction.

But, perhaps most tellingly, Pernod Ricard has re-entered the category. Having sold up its aquavit operation to Arcus in 2012, it’s back this year with Swedish brand Åhus Akvavit. It is a product engineered for its consumers – craft packaging, produced in an area of distilling heritage. “Everything that helps aquavit helps us,” says Toftkjær. “It signals that they too see potential for expansion.”

It might be a step too far to say aquavit will be the next big thing, but let’s just say things haven’t looked this positive for a while. The conditions are there for a revival – it’s now over to the category’s producers to exploit their good fortune and carve a reputation into the landscape that lies a little further from home.

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