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The Types of Scandinavian Liquor to Drink

A guide to the spirits from the countries of Scandanavia

Exploring the Scandinavian alcohol sphere can be a captivating experience, offering an array of flavors and aromas.

From Aquavit’s smoky taste to Mead’s sweet notes, there’s something for everyone who enjoys an alcoholic beverage.

So, if you want to get acquainted with Scandinavian spirits while visiting Scandinavian countries, pass on the wine and meet the 10 most popular Scandinavian spirits you have to try.


Scandinavian Liquor

There’s a distinct flavor profile reserved for Scandinavian spirits. What are they? How and what are these Scandinavian spirits made?

Read on to learn more about this diverse selection.


Akvavit

Also known as Aquavit, Akvavit means water of life. A distillery makes Aquavit from potatoes, grains, and caraway seeds; this Scandinavian spirit has a unique sweet and piquant taste, with notes of aniseed and citrus.

Aquavit is one of the Scandinavian spirits where the herbs and spices infuse with the alcohol before being distilled and blended with more alcohol and pure water. Some of the spices include caraway, cumin, and fennel.

Traditionally, Scandinavians serve Aquavit chilled as an aperitif or digestif in small glasses called snapsglas. It’s also commonly used in cocktails, such as the classic Scandinavian drink, the Viking Fjord. 

A fun fact. Every Scandinavian country (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) has their version of Aquavit, such as Swedish Akvavit. It is part of their Nordic Heritage.


Glogg

Glögg is a warm spiced wine typically served during wintertime celebrations in Scandinavia.

The main ingredients are red wine infused with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, orange peel, fennels, raisins, and almonds for sweetness.

You can enjoy Glögg on its own, but it’s usually mixed with brandy or vodka to make glögg shots – perfect for keeping you warm on cold winter nights. One often sipped slowly to enjoy this.


Mead

Mead is one of the Scandinavian spirits enjoyed by both Scandinavian and the rest of the world.

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bottle and glass of mead on a plate with a honey comb

Mead-makers ferment the honey, water, and yeast to create the Scandinavian spirit; they also include their choice of fruits, grains, or spices for additional flavor. Like wine gives liquid courage, Vikings believe that Mead gives them courage and strength.


Lakka

This Scandinavian spirit from Finland came from the wild Arctic cloudberry fruit.

cloudberries used to make lakka

It has a distinguished sweet and fruity flavor with a hint of tartness and a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Distilleries produce Lakka by steeping the cloudberry berries in neutral spirits for months. This process allows the flavor and color to infuse into the alcohol. After that, it is filtered and bottled to the beloved alcohol with 20-25% alcohol strength per volume.


Punsch

Punsch is another one of the famous Scandinavian spirits enjoyed by many, usually as an after-dinner drink.

It has a sweet, dark, and spicy taste that is made by blending distilled spirits, such as arrack, with sugar, water, and other spices.

One can also create a cocktail from this Punsch by mixing it with soda water or ginger ale.


Cherry Heering

In 1818, the Danish liquor, Cherry Heering, was produced. Distilleries make this alcoholic beverage from sour cherries, species, and neutral grain alcohol.

Your usual Cherry Heering has a deep red color and a sweet fruity flavor with hints of almonds. Bartenders often use Cherry Hearing in popular cocktails like Singapore Sling, Blood and Sand, and Remember the Maine.

It is also popular in traditional dishes such as cherry soup and cherry sauce for meat dishes. Of course, you can still enjoy this on its own.


Sahti

From Finland came a traditional beer-like beverage called Sahti.

To create it, brewers used a combination of malted barley, rye, and juniper berries to give Sahti its unique slightly sweet and spicy taste with a solid juniper flavor.

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Small breweries make the oldest beer style in Finland by boiling malted grains and juniper berries together in water, then cooling the mixture before adding the yeast to start the fermentation process. You can enjoy this strong beer with a slice of bread and cheese.


Brennevin

Brennevin, also known as Swedish vodka and Brännvin, is one of the famous Scandinavian spirits.

A distillery can make Brennevin from grain or potato-based mash distilled to at least 40% ABV (alcohol by volume) and infused with herbs such as juniper berries and lingonberries for additional flavor.

Brännvin has a smooth texture and neutral relish, making it ideal for mixing cocktails or drinking neat over ice. 


Koskenkorva

Another one of the famous Scandinavian spirits is from Finland; Koskenkorva is a spirit brand known to produce a clear, colorless, and odorless vodka-like beverage.

Made from the local barley and pure spring water of Koskenkorva, Finland, the distillery distilled this spirit multiple times to produce a high-quality pure spirit. This beverage has a smooth and neutral flavor, an excellent base for mixed drinks and cocktails.

One thing about Koskenkorva is its flavored version, such as cranberry, lemon, and vanilla, which is popular with locals and tourists in Finland.


Vodka

Last on our list is the famous vodka. A distillery traditionally makes this clear, colorless, and odorless spirit by distilling fermented grains like barley, rye, or wheat.

vodka shots with ice

You can enjoy this either neat or in cocktails. Many love Vodka brands from Scandinavian countries like Absolut from Sweden, Koskenkorva from Finland, and Aalborg from Denmark for their high quality and purity.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the most asked questions:

What alcohol is Norway known for?

Norway is known for several types of alcoholic beverages, but these two are some of the most popular:
1. Norwegian Aquavit: This Norwegian version of water of life is made from over 95% Norwegian potatoes with caraway and dills and kept for six months in an oak barrel for aging. The name “Norwegian Aquavit” is a protected name. 
2. Mead: It’s a beverage consumed since the Viking era and is still considered and enjoyed as a traditional Norwegian liquor.

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What alcohol is Sweden known for?

The most famous alcohol Sweden is known for is Absolut Vodka. It is a premium brand first introduced in 1879 and sold in over 126 countries worldwide. This brand uses ingredients from locally sourced winter wheat and pristine water in Ahus, Sweden. Its smooth taste and versatility can be enjoyed on its own or used in cocktails. Swedish Akvavit and Swedish cider are famous alcoholic beverages in the country.

What is a traditional Scandinavian drink?

If you’re asking for a traditional Scandinavian spirit, you must try it while visiting any Scandinavian spirit; there’s no more traditional spirit than Aquavit or Akvavit. It isn’t just one of the famous Scandinavian spirits; it’s THE Scandinavian drink. Akvavit originates from the formerly unified Scandinavia and has an essential role in the culture and tradition of the Scandinavian countries and Scandinavians. So, if you find yourself in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, or their territories, try Aquavit.


Final Thoughts

One can explore and try numerous Scandinavian spirits from each Scandinavian country. Each has its unique taste and benefits.

Whether looking for a new way to enjoy your favorite drink or just trying something different, Scandinavian liquor should be at the top of your list. With a wide selection of flavors, you will surely find the perfect Scandinavian spirits for your palate to enjoy and sip slowly.

So why not give Scandinavian spirits a try today? And give us your review and favorite Scandinavian spirits you’ve enjoyed.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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