Akvavit (also spelled aquavit) is a
flavored spirit that is produced in Scandinavia and typically contains 40%
alcohol by volume. Its name comes from aqua vitae, the Latin for "water of
life". Akvavit, like vodka, is distilled from
either grain or potatoes. It is flavoured with herbs such as caraway seeds,
anise, dill, fennel, coriander, or "grains of paradise". The Danish distillery
Aalborg makes an akvavit distilled with amber.
The recipes and flavors differ between brands, but caraway is typically the
Akvavit usually has a yellowish hue, but this can vary from clear to light
brown, depending on how long it has been aged in oak casks. Normally, a darker
colour suggests a higher age or the use of young casks, though artificial
caramel colouring is permitted. Clear akvavit is called taffel; it is typically
aged in old casks that do not colour the finished spirit.
It is a popular belief that akvavit will ease the digestion
of rich foods. In Denmark it is traditionally associated with Christmas lunch.
In Norway it is particularly drunk at celebrations, such as Christmas or May 17
(Norwegian Constitution Day). In Sweden it is a staple of the traditional
midsummer celebrations dinner, usually drunk while singing one of many drinking
songs. It is usually drunk as snaps during meals, especially during the
appetizer course—along with pickled herring, crayfish, lutefisk or smoked fish.
It is said that the
spices and the alcohol helps digest the meal which is very rich in fat.