Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Akvavit aka Aquavit

I recently came into possession of some Akvavit (Aquavit) made by distillery Snälleröds Ångbränneri straight from Sweden courtesy of my co-worker Julia. She recently traveled to her homeland of Sweden and was very kind enough to bring me a sampler pack of organic Akvavit. Thanks bella!!!!! But what is Akvavit you may be asking yourself. Well, here we go on to Sweden.

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica online:
aquavit, also spelled Aquavite, or Akvavit, also called Snaps,  flavoured, distilled liquor, clear to pale yellow in colour, dry in flavour, and ranging in alcohol content from about 42 to 45 percent by volume. It is distilled from a fermented potato or grain mash, redistilled in the presence of flavouring agents, filtered with charcoal, and usually bottled without aging. Various aromatic flavourings are employed, usually including caraway or cumin seed; lemon or orange peel, cardamom, aniseed, and fennel also may be used.

The beverage, produced in the Scandinavian countries, derives its name from aqua vitae (Latin: “water of life”), applied originally to liquor distilled from wine, and was made from imported wine; the product therefore was highly expensive until Swedish soldiers learned to make aquavit from grain. In the 18th century the potato became an important raw material.

Swedish and Norwegian aquavits are sweet and spicy and of straw colour. Sweden is the largest producer, manufacturing about 20 brands. Norway’s production, comparatively low, includes Linie Aquavit, so called because it is shipped to Australia and back (across the Equator, or Line) in oak containers to produce mellow flavour. Finnish aquavit has a cinnamon flavour. The Danish product, also called snaps, is colourless, with a pronounced caraway flavour. One of the best known Danish types is Ålborg akvavit, named for a small town in Jutland, on Denmark’s northern coast. The only brand exported from Denmark, it is produced by Danish Distilleries, a private organization granted the sole right to produce alcohol and yeast since 1927 under a monopoly of the Danish government.

In both the Scandinavian countries and northern Germany, aquavit is usually served chilled and unmixed, in small glasses, and is usually accompanied by appetizers or sandwiches; it is the traditional accompaniment to a smorgasbord.

This particular brand of Akvavit is made by a distillery called Snälleröds Ångbränneri which was founded in 1901 and was producing Akvavit until it was forced to close down in 1971. Twenty years later, Snälleröds Ångbränneri would be reborn under Eric Berntson. Describes the reason for restarting the Snälleröds Ångbränneri distillery:
Our philosophy is that we will create original and traditional products. We want to make a good craft from foundations and the best way to take advantage of our culture. In hundratalsår, Sweden has made ​​flavored schnapps, and we want to take advantage of that knowledge. Snälleröds not hanging on temporary trends without investing in good basic goods and careful development of our qualitative schnapps. 

When we develop a new product and we'll start with me and Leif Nerhammar sit down at the kitchen table here on Snälleröds. I bounce ideas with Leif, he says what we can do in practice and did not. Then we test the idea. Leif makes test products then we test them together here on the farm's fitting room. There is an old kitchen on the farm. 

Today Snälleröds Ångbränneri Ltd a family run organic snaps producer. It is developing new products for both the Swedish and international markets. Berntson Brands AB in Stockholm are dealers in Sweden and is in charge of distribution and sales
The sampler is made up of five different bottles of organic aquavit. Here is how they are described from both the box and translated from the website:
Brännmästarens Akvavit
This Aquavit is the favorite of the distillery master, with caraway, anis, fennel and with a tone of sherry.

Bokhållarens Akvavit
A dry aquavit with fresh notes of citrus fruits. Delicious light green in color with anise, caraway and fennel in the bottom and fresh orange tones. Aquavit is one of the most popular schnaps both for Christmas, Easter, Midsummer and the crayfish season. An aromatic aquavit as an aperitif or digestive (before and after meal) is also in time. Our old bookeeper's favourite.

Mäskdrängens Akvavit
A crystal clear aquavit, the caraway is dominant. Mäskdrängens Aquavit has a distinct cumin and fennel aroma and hints of citrus and licorice. The taste gives a real sense aquavit, just as aquavit tasted in the past. A perfect spirit, neat or with food.

Herr Berntson Besk
Spices and herbs in a magic combination. A wormwood liquor with a smooth and elegant wormwood bitter, with a nice rounded sweetness. Snälleröds use Wormwood from Skåne North expanse Inge. Mr. Berntson Besk fits cooled as traditional snaps to herring and other Scandinavian dishes. Try it with spicy food.

Jungfruns Vårbrännvin
Elegant bitterness with a soft finish. The color is slightly green. A warm and örtigt brandy, with clear citrus. Jungfuns Vårbrännvin excellent match to our traditional helgmat at midsummer, Christmas and Easter Virgo is seasoned with classic aquavit spices with the addition of coriander and lemon. All is well rounded and spices pekoreras for a long time.
The Brännmästarens and Mäskdrängens Akvavits are 80 proof (40% alc/vol) while the Bokhållarens, Herr Berntson Besk and Jungfruns Vårbrännvin Akvavits are slightly lower at 76 proof (38% alc/vol). So the akvavit is currently chilling in the fridge and when I crack them open, I'll describe what I think about them.

Until Then, Skål and Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla