Fahrenheit 173 - Aged Spirits
"If it's not good enough to drink slowly, then it's not worth drinking"
In my search for aged spirits I've looked at more and more exotic drinks, from places further and further away from my native Sweden. I've tried Grappa from Italy, rum from the Caribbean and tequila from Mexico... but the other day something struck me. I realized that there is a kind of oak-aged liqour made in my home country! I'm not talking about Swedish whisky - no, I mean the traditional Scandinavian flavoured vodka called akvavit.
Akvavit is flavoured with herbs and spices and some brands are aged in oak casks, usually old refill sherry butts. Of course, aged akvavit spends a much shorter time in wood than whisky or cognac, for instance.
For fun I decided to do a tasting where I nose and taste akvavit the same way I compare single malts or aged rums. Also, I might provide hints for people shopping for akvavit to drink on e.g. "midsummer's eve", the traditional Swedish holiday when akvavit is imbibed during dinner amid toasting and singing!
The process of aging akvavit is most common in Norway, where most brands are aged in wood. In Sweden only a handful akvavits are aged. Denmark is a large producer of akvavit but I've only heard of one Danish oak-aged akvavit: Aalborg Nordguld. I haven't found that one, but I did buy 14 (!) Norwegian and Swedish akvavits for the tasting. All minis, though! =)
After tasting these akvavits I must admit that the best ones are really good. Good enough to drink at room temperature, sip by sip, rather than slugging them back ice cold which was how I used to drink akvavit!
My favourites - all of them from Norway - are:
Simers Oslo Aquavit:
Gammel Reserve Aquavit:
Gilde Taffel Aquavit:
Gammel Opland Aquavit:
(The full list of tasting notes can be found here)
Three new Swedish single malt whiskies
Five single malts from Cadenhead's
Six Irish whiskeys