Schnapps and Aquavit - What's the difference?

Scandinavian favorites

Schnapps and aquavit are two spirits that are very close to the Nordic region and have a long and traditional history.

The two alcoholic drinks share a few similarities, but are fundamentally very different. But what is the difference between schnapps and aquavit?

What is schnapps?

Schnapps is a spirit known for its spicy taste of herbs and spices and can be flavored with a wide range of ingredients.

It's easy to say that schnapps is a spirit flavored with whatever you think is fun to mix it up with.

For example, in Danish terms, Gin is actually a juniper-flavored schnapps.

Schnapps is known for often being served in small glasses, called snapsglas, and is often drunk as a small form of welcome drink or as part of traditional Danish dishes such as fried herring or liver pate.

Schnapps can have a varying alcohol percentage, but will most often be between 37-45%.

What is an aquavit?

Aquavit is also flavored with spices, but the most characteristic flavor is caraway. It typically also contains dill and may contain other spices such as coriander and anise. The intense caraway flavor is the most distinctive feature of aquavit.

Aquavit is served in small glasses like schnapps and is traditionally associated with fish dishes and other Nordic specialties.

The alcohol percentage for Akvavit is 37.5 - 45%.

Akvavit - a medieval medicine

The word Akvavit is derived from the Latin term 'aqua vitae', meaning 'water of life'.

This meaning has had a significant impact back in the Middle Ages, when aquavit was quickly recognized as a medicinal product infused with healing herbs.

Most well-known quality aquavits around the Nordic region have been in regular production since the mid-1800s and are known for being made by distilling liquid that has fermented on, among other things, grain and potatoes, and having a clear or light color due to the various added ingredients, such as caraway seeds.

Set of rules

Over the years, there has been much debate and doubt about when an aquavit can be called an aquavit and what actually characterizes the drink.

The fact is that an aquavit must be flavored with a distillate of caraway and/or dill seeds.
This also means that a distillation apparatus must be used to produce an aquavit.

Over time, the debate about aquavit has led to EU legislation that very basically outlines the rules for aquavit:

The EU legislation is as follows:

  • Aquavit is a neutral-flavored spirit drink flavored with a distillate of dill seeds and/or caraway seeds
  • Aquavit must not be bitter in a way that defines the taste
  • Akvavit may contain a maximum of 15 grams of dry matter per liter added after distillation
  • Aquavit must contain at least 37.5% alcohol.

Bornholm Spirits - a universe of schnapps and aquavits

Our product portfolio at Bornholm Spirits has grown over time and we are proud to offer both schnapps and aquavits of the finest and highest quality.

We highly recommend our FROST and BLOND aquavits as well as all our schnapps, which so far consists of 8 standard versions, 7 Limited Edition schnapps and 1 Special Edition.
A wide selection that will surely contribute to the upcoming Christmas parties or simply as a gift for a loved one.

Whether it's yourself or someone close to you!

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