The name of this brandy, which is particularly popular in the Scandinavian countries, is derived from Aqua vitae (lat. water of life). In the Middle Ages aquavit was still made from wine, later from potatoes and only since the end of the 17th century from grain. At that time, aromatic substances such as juniper berries, malt, honey, dill herb and caraway were used to give the taste. Gradually, however, caraway has established itself as the dominant flavouring. One of the first producers of aquavit was Isidor Henius, who came from what was then Prussia. In 1846, he founded the foundation stone of the now world-famous Aquavit culture in Denmark in Aalborg, and the legendary brand "Aalborg Taffel Akvavits" was born. By the way, the addition "Danske" (Danish) is today a protected designation of origin.
The aquavit is distilled from grain or potatoes, herbs and spices are added during the second distillation, but the addition of essential oils is not permitted. The main component is caraway, but aniseed, coriander, fennel, cinnamon, cloves and dill seeds are also used. In some varieties, dill is even a determining factor in taste. The caraway note develops best at an alcohol content of 40 to 45% vol. In Italy, "Acquavite" is the designation for all bare, clear spirits. In Austria and Germany, an alcohol content of at least 35% vol., in Switzerland at least 40% vol. is required by law. Well-known German brands are for example Bommerlunder and Malteserkreuz. Aquavit is served and drunk ice cold. As with all aniseed spirits, a characteristic milky discoloration develops when water is added or very strongly cooled - the so-called louche-effect (ouzo effect).