Aquavit is a largely unknown spirit in the United States. Aquavit has been produced in Scandanvia for centuries. It is a neutral spirit usually distilled from grain and flavored with botanicals, the primary one being caraway. The majority of Aquavit sold in the U.S. remains unaged though there are some brands that can age it for decades.
Gamle Ode is the brainchild Mike McCarron. Back in 2002 he shared a bottle of Dill Aquavit in Iceland but upon returning to the United States he couldn’t find a bottle. Fast forward to Febrarury 2011 and he found himself without a job and his mind returned back to that wonderful Icelandic trip. He spent 3 months researching a recipe and in June 2011 he took his recipe to the closest small distillery, 45th Parallel Distillery. Paul Werni, the 45th Parallel Distillery, and Mike spent over 14 months perfecting a recipe.
Each of the Aquavit’s starts life as 45th Parallel Distillery’s award winning vodka. From there each expression is created using its own recipe. The Dill is infused with dill, caraway, and juniper berry. The holiday is a once a year limited release item. It builds upon the original dill recipe by adding orange peels, mint, and allspice and then aged in used wine barrels. The Celebration is distilled with dill, caraway, juniper, coriander, vanilla bean, star aniseed, plus lemon and orange citrus peels. It is then aged in two types of barrels: half in used Holiday Aquavit barrels and half in used bourbon barrels (45th Parallel Border Bourbon).
You are immediately hit with fresh dill and a subtle faint traces of pine. Upon tasting, your tongue is bathed in fresh dill and this is complemented by the earthy anise flavor of caraway. It’s a unique offering but can be tough to mix with as the dill is such a prominent flavor.
On the nose there is oak and baking spices upfront followed by fresh lemon zest. On the back end there is a hint of dill and caraway. On the palate there is faint traces of anise followed by lemon zest and mint. In the background there is oak and bitter orange.
This Aquavit is the most traditional formulation of all of Gamle Ode’s offerings. On the nose it’s well balanced with notes of dill, carraway, juniper, and vanilla. On the palate it manages to be both complex and balanced. The flavors meld together harmoniously creating what I think is the best offering of the three.
Game Ode Aquavit’s may still be hard to find at your local liquor store but if you can find it its worth checking out especially the Celebreation edition.
2 oz Celebration Aquavit
1 oz Simple syrup
3/4oz Lemon juice
2 oz seltzer
Shake all ingredients but the seltzer over ice and strain into ice filled collins glass. Top with seltzer and then express an orange peel over the drink and insert into the glass
An Ode #2
2 oz Holiday Aquavit
1 oz Demerara syrup
3/4 Lemon juice
1/4 Pimms No.1
1 Eyedropper Bittercube Bolivar Bitters
1 Egg White
Add all ingredients except bitters to a shaker and shake without ice. Add ice and shake until frosted. Strain into a chilled rocks glass and garnish with bitters
The last drink is a rift on a traditional sherry cobbler
Fountain of Youth
2 oz Oloroso Sherry
1/2 oz Pedro Ximinez
1/2 oz Holiday Aquavit
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
Build in a rocks glass, add crushed ice, and garnish with seasonal fruit.
For some other interesting cocktial ideas check out the recipe section of their website.
Review sample provided by representatives of Gamle Ode Aquavit.