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Anyone for Akevitt?

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Anyone for Akevitt?

Postby kljostad » Sun Apr 09, 2006 10:32 pm

I know this is a forum for Whiskey lovers, but I would like to share with you my other passion: Akevitt (or Aqua Vitae as it is also known). If you enjoy your Whiskey, I'm pretty sure you will also enjoy Akevitt.

Akevitt is a Nordic phenomenon, although Denmark, Sweden and Norway all claim to be the first to produce this elixir of life. But to be honest: Who cares? The way we produce Akevitt has changed dramatically since the 17th century.

Denmark's Aalborg Aquevit is probably the best known Akevitt in the world, but in recent years the most innovative of the producing countries has been Norway. In Norway, we have a state owned monopoly for selling wine and spirits, and in alle practicality a monopoly for producing spirits. Although this might sound like an evil idea, it has a lot of positive sides. The sales monopoly ensures a very broad availability of goods. More than 300 whiskeys are available! The most expensive ones to very good prices, compared to other countries.

Another good side, is that they can take risks, without going bankrupt. About ten years ago, Arcus started working on a project to find old local recipes for Akevitt. They then adopted these to suite modern technology, and started producing new varieties. We now produce more than 40 different Akevitts in Norway.

There are a few very good reasons why Akevitt is not a big export article:
1) Akevitt is matured in Sherry casks, and the availability of these casks limits the production. Arcus ensures that the local market gets what they need before they start exporting.
2) The main ingredient of Akevitt is not very fashionable. In Norway, most Akevitts are produced on Potatoes... Altough some of the new brands are starting to use smoked malt.

Have anyone of you fellow Whiskey-lovers tasted Akevitt? Do you have a favourite?

Mine is Gilde Non Plus Ultra. Probably the best Akevitt ever produced. It is available in all Norwegian Tax-free shops.

Regards,
Kjell[/list]
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Apr 10, 2006 2:18 am

Hi kljostad

I have not tasted Akevitt but do not apologise for the fact that it is made potato. We in Ireland have a clear spirit called poiteen and that too is made from potato. Too much is made of the malted barley some times... if it's a good spirit it should be able to stand on it's own.


Long live varitey............ :D
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Re: Anyone for Akevitt?

Postby voigtman » Mon Apr 10, 2006 3:28 am

The only akevitt I have had was Black Death, which, despite the ominous name, was great! I think it is Danish, intended for the Icelandic market, but this may be wrong (it has been a few years since tasting this). In any event, who can resist an akevitt with a skull and cross bones as the label? If single malt and bourbon did not exist, and akevitt was easier to obtain in the USA, I would definitely have a bottle on hand at all times. Cheers, Ed
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:05 am

I have a sampler pack of ten Norwegian Aquevits I picked up in the airport in Bergen a year and a half ago. Haven't got around to checking them out yet! Let's see, it's around here somewhere....
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Postby Jan » Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:39 am

As a Dane I of course know Danish Aquevit. (Rather well as this is traditionally served with christmas & easter lunches.)

I have only tasted the norwegian oak matured variety once and it was pretty allright, far better than the danish ones. I think (but am not 100% sure) that it was "Gammel Reserve"

This coming friday a friend will a bottle of this for our easter lunch and I'm looking forward to taste it again.

Oh and Velkommen til forummet, Kjell :D

Cheers
Jan
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Postby SpiritofShetland » Mon Apr 10, 2006 8:06 am

Hi Kjell and welcome to the forum. We need a few more Norwegians here.

As for aquavit I agree with the Gilde Non Plus Ultra (12yo - the oldest aquavit available). But for daily use I have the Steinvikholm (this and Skipper Worse are both partly made with malted barley - dried over alderwood, not peat).

As for the differences between the Norwegian and the Danish/Swedish stuff: The Norwegian aquavit is (almost?) always stored is sherry butts before being vatted and bottled (tips for the producer Arcus: Single Cask, Cask Strength aquavit!), even the blank stuff (100 year old sherry butts are used for this). Norwegian aquavit should therefore be drunk just as whisky, not chilled or frozen like many people do.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:15 am

Gilde Non Plus Ultra is my favourite too. Great stuff!

edit/added: although I think there are more suitable ones like Løiten Linie if you want something to accompany traditional norwegian food.

.....and welcome to the forums Kjell :)


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Postby Aidan » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:51 am

I would like to try some. I hope it's not blended with unmalted potato, as I am only interested in the purest expression of distilled potato juice - it's malted form.
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:13 am

I'd never heard of Akevitt before this posting, but as I will be in Norway later in the year I am now looking forward to trying some. Which do you recommend?

Cheers

Paul
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:32 am

Aidan wrote:I would like to try some. I hope it's not blended with unmalted potato, as I am only interested in the purest expression of distilled potato juice - it's malted form.

Hi Aidan - I'm not sure how it's made. Think Arve knows his stuff well or Kjell? They use a lot of herbs in akkevits and for many it's a love it or loathe it thing. For whisky lovers I would think the norwegian sherry cask matured akkevits are the ones to go for.

Paul - you should look for the norwegian akkevits; Løiten Linie or Lysholmer Linie (linie means it's been on a norwegian ship crossing the equator twice) are mellow and has a certain sherry character from the casks. The Gilde Non Pluss Ultra is very good but more suitable as a digestif or enjoyed like a whisky. Where in Norway are you going by the way?

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Postby kljostad » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:53 am

Paul,

Most Norwegian Akevitt is made to go with traditional Norwegian food. Or to be perfectly honest; Akevitt is made to hide the taste of traditional Norwegian food... From old times Norwegians has had the word for beeing a barbaric herd. You might think that has something to do with the sparetime activities of the Vikings (raping and pilaging), but me theory is that it is caused by our eating habits.

Traditional Norwegian food consists of salted and dried sheep-ribs, burnt sheeps-head, rotted fish and dried fish moistened in potassic lye. I am not kidding! To be able to eat this, we need to drink Akevitt both before and during the meal.

But there are a more and more Akevitts made to stand on their own. Gillde Non Plus Ultra is one of these. It stands very well on its own. Other Akevitts I can recomed is Skipper Worse and Maquevitt (both made with some smoked malt). If you want a nice apetizer, my favourite is Simmer's Taffel. A colourless Akevitt with a cumin-like taste. Very elegant.

You can find all of these at most Norwegian Airports with tax-free shops. Don't go to the Wine Monopoly to buy them. They will charge you an arm and a leg in taxes.

If you're going to Oslo, you can find a fantastic Akevittbar at the heart of Oslo (Youngstorget). It is called Fyret (Norwegian for the lighthouse).
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Postby Aidan » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:57 am

Ah, some burnt sheep's head, maybe with a garnish of parsley and some fondant potatoes. Lovely.

What you have for dessert?
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Postby kljostad » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:59 am

Aidan wrote:I would like to try some. I hope it's not blended with unmalted potato, as I am only interested in the purest expression of distilled potato juice - it's malted form.


Aidan, from early time, they used a lot of spices in Akevitt, to hide the taste of raw spirits. As the knowledge of destilling grew better, they kept the spices. What spices they use vary from Akevitt to akevitt. But mind you, Akevitt is much closer to Whiskey than the spicy Schnaps you can find longer south in Europe.

One of the similarities is that most Akevitt is matured in Sherry casks. Of you want a more"clean" Akevitt, I can recomend you the colourless varieties, like Simmers Taffel. Simmers was voted the best Akevitt in the world a few years ago.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:00 am

A nice Drisheen for Dessert......


Jellied Sheeps blood (made in the shape of a black pudding)


Yummy .... :lol:
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Postby Aidan » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:06 am

kljostad wrote:
Aidan wrote:I would like to try some. I hope it's not blended with unmalted potato, as I am only interested in the purest expression of distilled potato juice - it's malted form.


Aidan, from early time, they used a lot of spices in Akevitt, to hide the taste of raw spirits. As the knowledge of destilling grew better, they kept the spices. What spices they use vary from Akevitt to akevitt. But mind you, Akevitt is much closer to Whiskey than the spicy Schnaps you can find longer south in Europe.

One of the similarities is that most Akevitt is matured in Sherry casks. Of you want a more"clean" Akevitt, I can recomend you the colourless varieties, like Simmers Taffel. Simmers was voted the best Akevitt in the world a few years ago.


I was only joking about the malted potato thing, but I would love to try Akevitt. It's unlikely I'll find it here in Ireland. I hope to be going to Oslo in the next year or so, depending on circumstances, so I will try to pick some up there.
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Postby kljostad » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:07 am

Aidan wrote:Ah, some burnt sheep's head, maybe with a garnish of parsley and some fondant potatoes. Lovely.

What you have for dessert?


Image

I must admit, I have never tasted this delicatesse myself, but roumur has it that people even eat the eyes. That might be related to intake of Akevitt.

The traditional garnish is potatoes and mashed swedes.
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Postby Aidan » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:10 am

It does not look very apetising, but I've had brawn and it is lovely, so who knows.

A nice bit of head on the bone, who could ask for anything more.
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:16 am

Where in Norway are you going by the way?

Christian


Hi Christian

We shall be stopping in Stravanger, Geiranger, Trondheim, Honningsvaag, Tromso, Andalsnes and Bergen; leaving the UK on August 6th.

Eating out sounds like fun!

Cheers

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Postby Aidan » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:21 am

Image

0 out of 10 for presentation, I'd say. Maybe, if they had a few of them on skewers with slices of onion and red and green peppers in between, it would be a winner,
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Postby kljostad » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:25 am

Paul A Jellis wrote:
Where in Norway are you going by the way?

Christian


Hi Christian

We shall be stopping in Stravanger, Geiranger, Trondheim, Honningsvaag, Tromso, Andalsnes and Bergen; leaving the UK on August 6th.

Eating out sounds like fun!

Cheers

Paul


Paul, when you go to Bergen, do yourself the favour of visiting a bar called Altona. It was named one of the best Whiskey bars in the world by Whiskey Magazin.

And when in Tromsø, visit a restaurat called Arctandria, order grilled dried fisk with Akevitt. That is delicious!
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:56 am

kljostad wrote:Image

I must admit, I have never tasted this delicatesse myself, but roumur has it that people even eat the eyes. That might be related to intake of Akevitt.

The traditional garnish is potatoes and mashed swedes.

I've had smalahove several times and it's lovely - the taste is not unlike dried rib of lamb (only more tender) which is also a speciality from the western parts of Norway. In my years at university I used to host a yearly smalahovelag for my friends. Strictly speaking smalahove is a very local speciality from the village/area of Voss not far from Bergen. The skinn on the skull is lightly burned and the head is put in a smoke house - also of local origin (eldhus) . The reason why they have always smoked rather than salt the meat in this area is because of the enormous humidity in the air - salted meat wouldn't last whereas smoked meat would stay preserved without problems.

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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:13 pm

Paul A Jellis wrote: Hi Christian

We shall be stopping in Stravanger, Geiranger, Trondheim, Honningsvaag, Tromso, Andalsnes and Bergen; leaving the UK on August 6th.

Eating out sounds like fun!

Cheers

Paul

Hi Paul!
Pm in your inbox :)

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Postby SpiritofShetland » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:39 pm

Mr Fjeld wrote:Hi Aidan - I'm not sure how it's made. Think Arve knows his stuff well or Kjell? They use a lot of herbs in akkevits and for many it's a love it or loathe it thing.


When it comes to production most Norwegian aquavit's are made with the same equipent, since almost all are made by one company, Arcus.

The potatoes are crushed and the juices collected. This is fermented by addisng yeast and then distilling in a Coffey-still. The spices and herbs are then added to the spirit and left to soake for a bit, before the spirit once again is distilled (a bit like gin in away). The spirit is then poured into ex-sherry butts (sometimes ex-ex-ex-ex-ex-ex etc, if they're making taffel - the clear stuff) and left for a period of time, from half a year to 12 years. Sometimes a very special bottling is made, this can then cotain spirits of upto 60 years of age.

As Christian says a couple of brands are actually send (in casks, by boat, on deck) to Australia and back.

The Skipper Worse should be available in the tax-free shop both when you arrive and depart Norway, if you want to buy a bottle cheap (it's about £10-15 cheaper there than in the stae run monopolyshops in Norway, and yes you can buy tax-free goods both upon arrival and departure in Norway).
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Apr 10, 2006 2:20 pm

Paul, I'm Jellis! Uh, jealous. Sounds like a great trip. I've been to Trondheim and Bergen, and really wanted to get up north to Tromso and Lofoten.

Every bar I went into in Bergen had a few malts, sometimes something unusual (and expensive). Cognac seems to be more popular--there's a wide choice. And each one had at least one calvados--be sure to give that a try too. We hung out in the Dubliner, but alas, I didn't know Christian then.

Aidan, we're ignoring that one....
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Re: Anyone for Akevitt?

Postby Rlibkind » Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:32 am

I spent aonth in Norway this summer and tasted at least a dozen. Gilde is tops, but I , too, am fond of Simmers -- the main flavor is caraway, not cumin. It's clear and unaged and is the fav of fictional Bergen private eye Varg Veum.

Hard to find a good selection in the US -- mostly Aalborg from Denmark. Only Norge to be found is Linie, which is hardly a sacrifice.

Fryet in Oslo is a great bar with scores of akevitts. The owner taught me to drink them at room temperature; the few bars in US that offer it serve it too cold. Trondheim's No. 1 Aquavit Bar is also tops. Hurtegrute ships offer about a dozen.

Gammel Reserve is fine but pales next to Gilde. Trondheimers akevitt has a nice slight citrusy finish, as does Bergens, if I recall correctly. A pal who runs the bar at Philadelphia's Oyster House restaurant created her own and did a credible job of infusing vodka to resemble a quality akevitt.
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