A few days ago I joked on Twitter that every time I get my hands on a new American aquavit, a new one springs up within 24 hours to make my collection incomplete. That couldn’t be more true than in the month of November, during which four — or maybe 3 1/2 — new aquavits distilled in the United States came on to the market. I’ve also heard through the grapevine of several more in the works for 2014.
This rendered my comprehensive guide to aquavit available in the United States rapidly out of date, so I’ve updated it accordingly. Here are the new arrivals:
Riktig Aquavit — A brand new offering from Old Ballard Liquor Co. in Seattle. Flavored with caraway, mustard, and spices, then rested on local alder wood. Only six cases released in the initial offering. I really like it, so hopefully there will be more on the way.
House Spirits Small Batch Aquavit — This is a very limited edition spirit, with just over 100 375 ml bottles available for sale at the House Spirits tasting room. Apparently aged for several years and flavored with caraway, anise seed, grains of paradise, and dill. If you’re in Portland, swing by the distillery ASAP to pick up a bottle before their gone forever.
Montgomery Distillery Aquavit — A new aquavit from Missoula, Montana, infused with caraway, dill, citrus, and other botanicals.
Green Hat Ginavit — Not quite an aquavit. A gin-aquavit hybrid from Green Hat in Washington, DC, aged in Laird’s apple brandy barrels. A limited release for the winter.
In my year-end post for 2012, I predicted that 2013 would be a big year for aquavit:
Small distilleries need to generate revenue by making products that they can release with little or no ageing. Gin and vodka are the usual choices, but both of these markets are very competitive. The aquavit market is uncrowded and offers great opportunities for creativity with new botanical profiles. This is complemented by growing interest in the “New Nordic” cuisine.
A couple years ago, the only two domestic aquavits in constant production that I am aware of were Krogstad and North Shore. Now there is also the aged Krogstad, Sound Spirits, Gamle Ode, and a limited release from Bull Run. In 2013 I predict more new aquavits and more bartenders discovering the spirits’ versatility in cocktails.
A month ago this wasn’t looking like a great prediction, but now it looks like it’s finally panning out.
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