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Akvavit

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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.

Left: Danish Akvavit.

The recipes and flavors differ between brands, but caraway is typically the dominant flavour.

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.

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