Across the European Union, aquavit is variously categorized as a spirit (typically neutral, like vodka) infused with caraway, dill and/or anise. Notably, Iceland’s Brennivin uses only caraway—nothing more.
Brennivin’s nickname, Svartidauði, which translates to “The Black Death,” has built a devoted cult following. It is frequently smuggled in the luggage of returning travelers. Distilled from potato and proofed using soft, alkaline glacial water, the spirit is known for its silky texture, faint sweetness and distinctly savory palate.
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Often treated simply as an alternative to gin, Brennivín Aquavit’s horizons are far broader in scope. Consider its star flavor caraway as a culinary ingredient; the path of this savory spice leads to many delightful pairings. Herbs, tomato, smoke, apples, pears, carrots, red berries, vanilla, mint…the applications are vast and the flavor recognizable yet curious enough to lend a unique spin to many classics. Or just pair a shot with your beer like they do in Iceland! Skol!