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Brännvin, a Swedish word; the Norwegian word Brennevin; the Danish word Brændevin and the Finnish word (palo)viina, are general terms for distilled beverages from potatoes, grain and formerly wood cellulose, which may or may not be flavored. This includes akvavit and vodka. The name "brännvin" means "burnwine", the Finnish equivalent means "burn liquor"; sometimes the distillation of beverages is called "burning". It has the same linguistic roots as the English brandy and the German term Branntwein, which originally had same meaning like its Scandinavian counterpart.

Left: Koskenkorva Viina (Finland).

Beverages branded "brännvin"/"viina" are usually unflavoured and with an alcoholic content by volume between 30 and 38%. EU regulations reserve the name "vodka" for beverages distilled up to at least 95% and a final content of at least 37.5%.

Within Finland, the word viina is always used for Finnish made neutral spirits, including Finnish vodka, since the originally Russian word vodka is only used for vodkas from other countries. The term vodka also wasn't used for Swedish vodkas before 1958.

There is also an Icelandic version, called Brennivín, which is similar to Danish and Swedish akvavit.


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