Aquavit

(n.) Similar in structure to gin, this Scandinavian spirit is distilled from grains or potatoes, and flavored with caraway plus a slate of other herbs and spices, including cinnamon, anise, cardamom and citrus peel. Often bottled young when the spirit is clear or light yellow, some versions—usually Norweigian—are aged in oak barrels. The best versions are made by distilling the flavoring agents with the alcohol, though some brands, as well as home aquavit-makers, practice the infusion method of soaking spices in neutral spirit. Though the spirit is primarily associated with Scandinavia, some domestic versions are being produced as well.

The spirit is usually consumed neat, either at room temperature or chilled, and often with food, such as crawfish or pickled or smoked herring. Aquavit plays a large role in Scandinavian holiday celebrations, especially the Swedish midsummer celebration, where shots are paired with a number of drinking songs. Producers to seek out include Aalborg, O.P. Anderson, Krøgstad and Linie, which has the distinction of having been sent on a ship across the equator and back.

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