Lysholm Linie

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$$ — 41.5% ABV 1 year

For most of its history, oak aging was an accidental process of the alcohol trade. Be it Bourbon farmers sending whiskey across the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, or Cognac vintners sending brandy up the Charente and through the English Channel — stories abound over the distiller's discovery that the wait was crucial to the product. Modern shipping is much faster and no less expensive, so aging now occurs almost exclusively in warehouses. But there has always been one glaring exception: linie aquavit.

There's a misconception that linie is a brand, but it's actually a style of aquavit, describing those that are aged at sea and cross the linje, or equator. The most common brand in the US is Lysholm Linie and the brand lettering being smaller than the style isn't helping matters. Round trips across the linje tend to be shorter now; Lhysolm's is aged a little shy of five months at sea, and twice as long on land.

Despite the relatively long aging time, large and old Oloroso Sherry barrels makes sure Lysholm's botanicals remain assertive. Linie is made from potatoes, not rye grain, and so is mostly a blank canvas. Caraway, orange and aniseed are the heavyweights, placing this spirit somewhere between a gin and an absinthe. Dill weed and coriander show through, as do the oaky vanilla and nutty wine flavors from its age.

Strong, dry and pungent, Lysholm is obviously meant to be enjoyed with something. It's no doubt why it's the aquavit of choice for many bartenders, and a lovely companion to smoked salmon or gravlax. And the very reasonable price means there's more in the budget for caviar!

Lysholm is located in Trondheim in Central Norway. Established in 1821 by Jørgen B. Lysholm, it is now owned by Arcus.