A Tasty Well-Traveled Booze.
The people who produce spirits all seem to have either their own unique formula or something in the way of a secret process that makes their whiskey or rum or tequila special … and, of course, all of that secret stuff adds a je ne sais quoi that enables them to charge a few dollars more for their elixir.
Some tout the oak barrels in which their whiskey is aged. Supposedly the longer the aging process, the better … and certainly the pricier. Johnny Walker 12-year old scotch is quite a few bucks more than the stuff that’s been aging for a mere eight years.
But for unique aging techniques, this has got to be the topper: a bottle of Norwegian aquavit hand-carried all the way from Norway to Maui by friends I met on my trans-Siberia train ride several years ago.
Aquavit is very popular all over Scandinavia. It’s made from potatoes and—depending, I guess, on which distillery makes the stuff—it’s flavored with a variety of herbs, including caraway, dill, anise, fennel, and coriander (among others). A caramel color is also added.
But this particular aquavit from Norway has a very different story. It’s distilled in oloroso sherry casks, then loaded aboard ships and sent off to Australia. And then? Well, then it’s brought back to Norway, bottled, and sold … mostly to thirsty Norwegians, I presume.
That’s the way the Norwegian aquavit has been “aged” since the days of wooden ships and iron men. Apparently, the long sea voyage, four-and-a-half months of constant rolling motion and the salt air, does something to the aging and maturing process that the Norwegians have never been able to duplicate on land.
At any rate, this particular aquavit is 83 proof, about the same as the typical scotch or bourbon, and I can tell you from personal experience—quite a few of them, in fact—that it taste very good indeed, especially on a chilly (60 degrees), rainy winter evening here on Maui. Just imagine how good it must taste these days in Norway!