Atlungstad Distillery: A taste of history
By Eva-Kristin U. Pedersen | Photos: Atlungstad Distillery
Some products just seem to embody the soul of a country. For Norwegians, aquavit is considered such a product.
This clear, strong liquor, made of potatoes and aged in oak barrels, is perhaps the most Norwegian of all drinks. Traditionally it is consumed at lavish Christmas dinners, where the boozy aid helps one to cope with hearty Norwegian cooking. But aquavit is much more than a digestive – it is part of a centuries-old culinary history.
In an effort to preserve that tradition while creating new, exciting and modern products, new Norwegian distilleries have come forth over the past few years. Few of them, however, can boast the heritage that Atlungstad Distillery can.
Atlungstad Distillery is located in the oldest functioning distillery in Norway, which was officially recognised as industrial cultural heritage in 2013, and produces a range of different aquavit blends for different occasions, as well as their own gin. All products are made from Norwegian potatoes and predominantly use Norwegian-grown spices, and most of them are aged in oak barrels for between six months and five years.
“In Norway, aquavit used to be only a Christmas drink, but this has changed in recent years and aquavit is now widely used in cocktails,” says Romain Jourdan, manager of the Atlungstad spirit brand, explaining that aquavit is very similar to gin and that bartenders around the world are experimenting with it.
In accordance with Norwegian law, in Norway, the aquavit from Atlungstad is sold at the state-owned Vinmonopolet, not in regular shops. Perhaps the best way to try it, however, is by paying a visit to the production site.
Atlungstad Distillery is supremely located on the shores of Mjøsa, a beautiful lake in eastern Norway, and offers a wide variety of guided and tailored tours that teach visitors about how aquavit is made. These can be paired with snacks or full meals at the acclaimed on-site restaurant, where dishes are made with local produce and either use aquavit as an ingredient, or are accompanied by a little glass of aquavit – or two.
There is a beach and a dock at Atlungstad – a beautiful place to enjoy the sun during a visit to the distillery. Atlungstad Golf is also nearby, where guests can try out the courses and even stay overnight to make the most of this idyllic area.
The summers at Mjøsa lake are renowned, but the distillery remains open during the enchanting snowy winters, too. “We are a destination to be enjoyed all year round,” says Andrea Jervidalo Jensen, manager at Atlungstad Distillery.
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