Dive into the Spirit of Norden Aquavit: Your Questions Answered!

At The Crafty Cask, we’re passionate about sharing the stories behind the craft alcohol brands featured in our subscription boxes. Today, we’re thrilled to shine the spotlight on Norden Aquavit, our upcoming SipScout Kit Maker. We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Robyn Cleveland, the distiller and co-mastermind behind Norden Aquavit, to learn more about the inspiration, craftsmanship, and unique flavors that set their spirits apart. Here’s what Robyn had to say:

Mel studying up on Rum
Mel moving barrels

 

What inspired you to create Norden Aquavit, and what sets it apart from other spirits in the market?

My wife Summer (who is our direct link to all things Scandinavian!) and I had a longtime admiration for Aquavit, particularly its origins, traditions, and unique ability to pair WITH food during a meal. After collecting dozens of expressions over the years, we felt we could broaden the category by making Aquavits that are not only worthy of sipping, but also particularly well-suited for mixing in cocktails.

What sets our spirits apart from other Aquavits and ALL other spirits is our inclusion of specially selected botanicals and distilling methods. We choose to follow the EU guidelines that define the category in order to pay homage to its origins and respect tradition, but this still leaves plenty room for innovation. Unique botanicals, taking a more calculated approach to blending flavors, and sourcing the highest possible quality inputs have all been facets of our approach that you wouldn’t have seen in the Aquavit category after decades of conglomeritization and Scandinavian government-run Aquavit production monopolies. Our distilling style is more in-line with London Dry gin (adding all botanicals in the still together, distilling just once, and adding nothing but water before bottling) rather than just adding extracts and flavoring to a base spirit, which is how most Scandinavian producers manufacture Aquavit.

Can you share a memorable moment or story from the journey of developing Norden Aquavit?

What started out as a major frustration became a unique ingredient origin-story which today we still laugh about. In the early development days of our Original Taffel Style we knew we wanted to incorporate a strong citrus element. Originally we landed on grapefruit, but after trial runs yielded a less than exemplary flavor profile we began testing out over a dozen different citrus varietals. Weeks went by and nothing was really working out. We were very close to giving up and starting fresh when we discovered some dried clementine peels that had been tucked away in our home bar. The intention had been to make bitters with them after drying peels on the windowsill from fruit we had placed in our kids’ Christmas stockings.

To our relief and profound joy, this addition was EXACTLY what the recipe needed. Only problem now was the fact we couldn’t find a supplier of already dried peels. So, to this day we still hand peel and air dry only true clementines that are shipped directly from 2 family farms we work with. Current production output requires we peel about 750 pounds of fruit each year. All by hand. This takes 2-4 people about 3-4 days to complete and fills 20+ 2x6ft drying tables.

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Ready To Try All 4 Norden Aquavits?

Smart move! Order this month’s SipScout kit by February 29, 2024 and receive a tasting kit of Original Taffel Style, American Oak Reserve, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Dill Aquavit along with all of the ingredients you need to make 2 Bunny Mary brunch cocktails with the Dill Aquavit. Then join in on our virtual tasting in March, where Robyn will be joining us live for the fun!

Reading this after the cutoff date? Don’t despair! Join SipScout as a full member at any time so you don’t miss a future kit and receive valuable discounts.

Get Your Kit or Join SipScout

How do you encourage people who have never had or heard of Aquavit before to try it?

Always try a spirit neat first. Then maybe add some ice or a touch of water to see how it develops. Discovering the subtleties and nuances should get your brain going and then you can think about flavor pairings!

With our more caraway-forward aquavits (original taffel style, American oak reserve, and even the strawberry rhubarb) one of my absolute favorite “sleeper” pairings is chocolate and/or coffee. Especially in cocktails!

Our American oak reserve is lovely with traditional Danish roast pork, smoked meats, aged cheeses, and richer fare. Lightly chilled. Take a bite of food, “sippa da beer, sippa da Aquavit” Skål!

Aside from chocolate and coffee, our Taffel Style is fantastic with more tropical/fruit flavors, think pineapple, mango, coconut, peach, passion fruit. This is particularly true when paired with umami-rich Asian-inspired flavors. I love to pair our dill Aquavit with smoked salmon on a rye crisp with lemon aioli and capers or chives on top, or for the party-people, a little bump of caviar with a frozen dill Aquavit chaser is magic!

Mel nosing whiskey

 What cocktail creations do you recommend with Norden Aquavit, and do you have any favorite recipes to share?

Lots! I recommend anyone looking to learn more about how to mix with Norden Aquavit give us a follow on Instagram @nordenaquavit where we are always sharing fun creations by our team and from top bars all over the country.

What do you hope drinkers experience when they taste Norden Aquavit for the first time?

We hope folks will experience a well-balanced and clean spirit that excites the senses on its own or when paired with food in traditional settings. Beyond this, we get excited to see our spirits activating creative-minded folks to explore Aquavit’s potential in cocktails, either by swapping aquavit in for a traditional base-spirit, or coming up with entirely new recipes. We hope folks lean in to the feeling of warmth and hospitality a thoughtfully prepared meal and/or cocktails with loved ones can evoke, be it traditional or something totally new. Our goal is the Share The Spirit of Aquavit with the world!

 

 

 

As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of Norden Aquavit in our upcoming SipScout kit, we invite you to join us in raising a glass to craftsmanship, tradition, and innovation. Stay tuned for more updates and be sure to subscribe to SipScout to experience Norden Aquavit and other incredible craft makers for yourself!

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