Saturday, January 9, 2010

Review: Linie Aquavit

To say the least, Linie Aquavit is an interesting spirit, bearing little similarity to any of the commonly encountered classes of liquors. Hailing from Norway, it's distilled from potatoes, and flavored with caraway and other herbs and spices. It's then placed into sherry casks, which are carried inside of a ship on a journey that crosses the equator (the "linie" in Linie Aquavit) two times. Indeed, the inside of the label gives the dates of each bottle's journey. This process supposedly imparts the spirit with unique flavors as it rocks inside the cask and is exposed to the sea breeze and frequent temperature changes. It all reeks of a marketing gimmick, but at least it's a creative one with some tradition behind it.

But what's it like? Well, it pours out with a light yellow-brown color, revealing its time spent in sherry casks. Its aroma is fairly subtle, but with definite notes of anise, caraway, spearmint, and quite a bit of alcohol. A bit reminiscent of an herbal vodka. On the palate, however, the flavor is considerably richer, with the sherry aging imparting a nice smoothness and a bit of sweetness. The caraway is the dominant flavor - Linie is definitely more akin to rye bread than rye whiskey, and this caraway gives the spirit quite a bit of bite. Anise is also mutely present, and a mintiness shines through, making the spirit nicely refreshing, albeit a tad medicinal. The finish comes with a bit of bitterness, but not in an unpleasant way. In all, it's not too complex, but fairly enjoyable.

Linie is an interesting spirit, but in all honesty, I'm a bit at a loss for what to do with it. It's quite refreshing, especially when chilled, but it's not something that I feel like having very often. And I'm not really sure what sort of cocktails you can mix with it (but I'm completely open to suggestions). Maybe it would go well with some corned beef, swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing...

If you're looking for something unique, this could fit the bill, but unless if you're a caraway junkie, I don't think it's a must-have.

Price: ~$28

Value: 15/20
Overall Quality: 14/20

1 comment:

  1. Aquavit

    A classic Scandanavian tradition, a chilled sip of aquavit is thought to aid in the digestion of rich holiday foods while also warming the blood. Aquavit is distilled from either grain or potatoes, depending on where it's made, and it's always flavored with a variety of botanicals—caraway and dill are common. Its savory flavors mean that it pairs well with food—it's one of the few spirits that does so. Fatty foods and those with robust, rich flavors are among the best pairings with aquavit—think pickled herring, salmon, rye bread, and rich cheeses. Consider serving aquavit alongside appetizer plates or mid-course nibbles.
    Although the U.S. market doesn't import a lot of aquavit, some strong brands are represented here: Linie and Aalborg should be pretty easy to find. On the domestic front, you'll find Krogstad from Portland, Oregon, and North Shore, from Chicagoland