Yes, Aquavit Is Coming

When you're in the business of introducing aquavit to the American public at large, the one thing you probably need more than anything else is patience (other than some good aquavit, of course). Educating the general spirit-drinking population in the U.S. about the beauty and versatility of this traditionally Scandinavian spirit is a long game for us; we always say that bringing aquavit to this market presents our greatest challenge but also our greatest opportunity.

A hand holding a glass of aquavitThings are moving incrementally, but we are making definite progress. Last year, we chronicled a bunch of mainstream press (Food & Wine, Men's Journal, Gentlemen's Journal, Drinks International) that were all touting the growing awareness and popularity of aquavit in America. They were all confirming what we have known for a long time: Aquavit, already known and loved by forward-thinking craft-centric bartenders, is poised to become a popular trend in cocktail bars and restaurants all over the country.

As aquavit apostles, we get excited when we come across new press that confirms the fundamentals of what we're doing. A recent article in The Spirits Business, published in April of this year, has a headline that reads, "Is Aquavit About to Go Global?" This piece focuses, not only on the growth of aquavit in the United States, but even more broadly on markets in the UK, France, and Canada.

As various international markets for aquavit expand, there's a growing movement among "traditional" aquavit producers in the Nordic countries to develop something of an international standard for aquavit. Most producers agree that this standard should be quite broad, but it should strive to maintain the core attributes that define the traditional spirit. A similar movement took place when California wine, tequila, bourbon, and other regional or culturally specific beverages began to skyrocket in popularity.

Today, the growth of aquavit producers in the United States and the UK has been robust enough to capture the attention of the long-established producers in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and other Nordic countries who want to ensure that the term "aquavit" maintains certain basic levels of quality and consistency. In the UK, Orkney Spirits claims to be the first Scottish producer of aquavit. Psychopomp Microdistillery claims to be the first in England. Silver Circle is the aquavit pioneer in Wales. On the U.S. side, growth has been even more substantial. According to the Nordic drinks group Anora, there are now more aquavit microdistilleries in Oregon than in Denmark.

Sasha Bladt-Cohen, CEO and distiller of London's Vintersol Distillery, sees major growth potential for the aquavit market in the UK and USA. "Given just how versatile aquavit is," Bladt-Cohen says, "the opportunities for it are near limitless. It has the potential to become a staple on any bar; something you might reach for instead of gin to mix with your tonic, or instead of whisky to cap off an evening. It's only in recent years that that Scandinavian (and to an extent North American) distillers have begun to explore the spirits in earnest; becoming creative with the recipes they create, the methodologies they use, and the way they present it. So we are only at the start of aquavit's journey."

We're excited about where aquavit is going in America. And we look forward to taking that journey with you.