Nuet Aquavit: the trailblazing Norwegian spirit that doesn’t play by the rules
By Maria Vole | Photos: Rammelaus
Since its beginnings in 2018, Scandinavia’s most innovative aquavit brand has gone from strength to strength. In fact, Nuet Dry Aquavit made history as the first aquavit to win a gin award at the 2021 Nordic Spirit Awards – and the ambitious team behind it has no plans to slow down.
Nuet Aquavit has made quite a splash on the international alcoholic drinks market. The groundbreaking brand is the brainchild of founder Morten Pharo Halle. “I’ve always had an interest in food and drinks, and it struck me as a shame that aquavit, a product that is archetypically Scandinavian, is so little-known outside of our borders,” says Morten.
While aquavit isn’t very well known internationally, this distilled spirit has a long history in the Nordics. The word comes from the Latin aqua vitae, meaning ‘water of life’ and the spirit has played a major role in Scandinavian drinking culture since the 15th century. For Nuet Aquavit, the focus is on honouring tradition while thinking outside of the box – putting a modern twist on a classic spirit. “Our mission is to capture the Scandinavian spirit through the most innovative aquavit products ever created,” says Morten.
Merging tradition and innovation
Based on 500 years of Scandinavian traditions, Nuet Aquavit currently has a two-product line-up. “We’d rather do a few things well than doing a lot of things half-way,” says Morten. With their first product, Nuet Dry Aquavit, the goal was to create the smoothest, most versatile aquavit ever made – a spirit that would be well-suited to cocktails. Morten and the small team behind Nuet Aquavit spent around 8 months and over 100 test distillations developing the recipe to get it right, taking a lot of inspiration from gin. “We wanted to combine the best of tradition with the best of innovation, to create a good blend of the traditional and the modern,” says Morten.
Nuet Dry Aquavit follows a fairly traditional distillation method – it is distilled in the same way as a London Dry Gin in that no flavourings are added after the distillation process. The drink is made with potato spirits from Norwegian Hoff potatoes and caraway, which is a key ingredient in all Norwegian aquavit, sourced from Inderøy in Trøndelag. “Our innovation revolves around the ingredients,” Morten explains. “In many other traditional Norwegian aquavits, you’ll find ingredients like fennel and star anise, which we’ve replaced with fresher, more modern, botanical elements like grapefruit peel and blackcurrant as well as ingredients that you more commonly see in gin, such as cassia bark, angelica root and seeds and pink pepper.” Unlike traditional aquavits, Nuet Dry has no added sugar.
Their second product launching in late 2021 was Moments Toddy – an aquavit-based liquor made with Norwegian apples and blackcurrants. The sweet, spicy, citrusy drink is a grown-up version of the warming spiced blackcurrant toddy most Scandinavian people remember from their childhood. Nuet Aquavit’s products can be bought on their website with delivery to most European countries as well as Singapore and Australia. Consumers in the US can purchase via The Whiskey Exchange, which also ships to many other countries internationally.
Leading the aquavit revolution
Though it is a proudly Scandinavian brand, Nuet Aquavit has clear global aspirations. “I want to put Scandinavian spirits, culture, lifestyle and values on the world map through creating new and innovative aquavit products. Aquavit embodies everything that is Scandinavian, and I want it to reach its full potential,” Morten says.
The name captures the brand’s unique spirit and ethos – ‘nuet’ means ‘the now’ in Norwegian, and is often used in the phrase ‘lev i nuet’ – ‘live in the now’. “Living in the now is a huge part of the balanced Scandinavian lifestyle,” says Morten. “Whether you’ve just reached the top of a mountain and want to sit down to take in the view or have come to the end of a busy working week, being able to exist in the now and enjoy the moment is important.”
Morten’s all-time favourite cocktail is a dry martini. “A Nuet Dry Martini is very easy to make, and it’s an honest and unpretentious drink. It displays the full spectrum in Nuet – since it’s served cold, more flavours and aromas will emerge as the drink starts to warm up.” Recently, he’s also found a deep appreciation for a Nuet Margarita: “it’s a citrus-forward, fresh cocktail that goes really well with the grapefruit notes in Nuet Dry Aquavit.”
Since the start, the small team behind Nuet Aquavit have seen themselves as leading the aquavit revolution. “We see a huge potential in aquavit, and we want to revolutionise how people see it,” says Morten. “There are huge opportunities for experimentation and innovation, so many ways to innovate, so many possibilities – we’re just getting started.”
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