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Linie Aquavit: The Spirit of Norway

By Dave Fox
Drøbak, Norway

In the mountains of Norway, Globejotting.com mascot Sven Wondermoose indulges in a few nips of akvavit.

Every year on May 17, Norwegians celebrate the drafting of their constitution with parades, parties, and a few swigs of their national fire water, aquavit.

Aquavit (pronounced “AH-keh-veet” and sometimes spelled “akvavit”) is a potato-based liquor, flavored with caraway. Other herbs, such as dill and cumin, are sometimes added. Some varieties also contain subtle hints of fruit. The drink takes its name from the Latin “aqua vitae,” meaning “water of life.” It’s a potent drink with an alcohol content around 40 percent.

You’ll find aquavit throughout Scandinavia, but the Norwegians make a special kind they call “linie aquavit.” Linie (pronounced “LINN-yuh”) is the Norwegian word for “line,” referring, in this case, to the equator. Linie aquavit is shipped from Norway, across the equator, down to Australia, and back again in oak sherry casks. Afficionados say the liquor gains a richer flavor as it sloshes around in the barrels for several weeks.

The concept of linie aquavit happened by accident in the 1800s. Jørgen Lysholm owned a distillery in Trondheim, Norway. His mother and uncle sent a batch of aquavit to Asia on a large sailing ship, hoping to market it there. It didn’t sell, however, and five barrels were shipped back to Trondheim. When the aquavit arrived back in Norway, Lysholm noticed it had a richer flavor. At that time, Norway was shipping dried cod around the world. Lysholm began loading barrels of aquavit onto freighters that carried the cod, and retrieving them at the end of a long round trip.

Svenny on the shores of Lustrefjord: Oh dear….

With a little searching, you can find Linie Aquavit in the United States. If you look through the bottle at the back side of the label, you’ll find the name of the ship that carried it across the equator, along with the date it sailed.

Most Norwegians store their aquavit in the freezer and drink it ice cold from stemmed cordial glasses. The stem on the glass prevents your hand from warming the liquor. Many people sip it with a pilsner beer chaser, which accentuates the caraway flavor. It’s consumed year-round, particularly on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, and Constitution Day.

Published on Monday, May 17, 2004

19 Responses to “Linie Aquavit: The Spirit of Norway”

  1. Hank
    September 18, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Any idea where I can buy Linie Aquavit in Buffalo, NY?

    Cheers.

    • September 18, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      Hi Hank–

      Unfortunately. I am not up on the liquor situation in Buffalo but I’ll leave your question up. Perhaps someone else out there knows. Thanks for stopping by, and good luck on your search!

    • Matt
      October 13, 2012 at 4:04 am

      I found it by accident at Cascade Liquor in Grand Rapids, MI. The shop owner said a regular customer insisted she carry it. I was looking for something interesting and she recommended it.

    • Jim
      December 13, 2012 at 6:33 am

      you can try your local COSTCO store, this time of year we get alot of odd stuff. we have it now at our store, of you shouldn’t need to be a member at there liq store, check it out

    • Kathy
      February 22, 2013 at 6:52 am

      Can be found at Disney World, Fl for $39.95 at the Norway attraction in Epcot

    • Kevin
      December 22, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      Do you have a Costco with a Liquor Store? I purchased a bottle at a Costco in MN today.

  2. Marnelle
    October 5, 2012 at 7:45 am

    I’m in Canada but I’d love to know where it can be found in Buffalo too or Detroit. Thanks!

  3. sumit
    November 8, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    just wanna know about this spirit, that its been kept in freezer since 2 years.. So is it still we can consume or not?
    Thanx

    • Ed
      December 19, 2012 at 7:04 am

      Should be okay. Just checked my bottle and it crossed the equator on the good ship M/S “TALABOT” on a trip from 17/07/2001 to 30/11/2001 and its still god. I save it for special meals on Christmas only. Not a heavy drinker you see?

    • December 19, 2012 at 9:15 am

      Yeah, Sumit… liquor generally stays good for a while. Many years ago, at my grandparents’ 50th anniversary, they opened up a bottle of Goldschlager (a German liquor) that had been given to them … as a wedding present 50 years earlier! Everyone in the immediate family (okay… everyone who was at least close to legal drinking age, that is) had a shot and we all lived to tell the tale.

      Skål!

  4. Bill H.
    November 14, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Wow! What a happy accident. I’m going to buy a few bottles (or a case) the next time I head down to G.R. from Cheboygan.

    Viva la Wolverine State!

  5. Roxy
    November 21, 2012 at 8:39 am

    We found it on drinkupny.com
    Ordered it last Friday, it shipped out the same day, and we just had a skål tonight, Tuesday!
    Fabulous!

  6. Frank
    December 2, 2012 at 8:15 am

    try to get linie aquavit, we drink a lot of aquavit in Denmark,Sweden and Norway, if you try it you are close to be a real viking.

  7. Jinger
    July 1, 2013 at 11:13 am

    1. I have purchased my Linie at Beverages and More here in San Diego.

    2. Our bottle has been in the freezer for a few years, still good (my first bottle lasted for ten years, good to the end) and comes out every May 17 and Summer Solstice to celebrate with friends, and other special occasions upon request. Always good.

    Skol!

  8. Colleen
    October 3, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Have been happily drinking Linie for at least a year now…and even though I am not a fan of hard liquor (I prefer red wine unless it’s a gin & tonic), this is the perfect sipping libation. Love it. We can buy it in Grand Forks, ND for $29.

    PS My husband’s grandmother is from near Lillehammer….immigrated at age 16.

  9. Chris
    December 31, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    I have an unopened bottle from 1985. Dont know if it is any good.

    • January 1, 2014 at 10:27 am

      Heh… interesting that out of 500+articles on this website, this article has the most comments by far!

      Chris, I’m guessing an unopened bottle from 1985 should be fine. (Please see my earlier response to Sumit’s quote.) But hey… 1985 and still unopened? What are you waiting for? :-)

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