Raise a glass
Tamworth Distilling brings a taste of New Hampshire to their Skiklubben Aquavit
CHRISTY OLSEN FIELD
Taste of Norway Editor
The Norwegian American
Looking for something special to serve this holiday season? Look no further than Tamworth Distilling’s Skiklubben Aquavit. Since its release in 2015, Skiklubben Aquavit has delighted fans of this Nordic spirit with its ginger-forward taste and hints of baking spices and woody notes.
I was delighted to speak with Matt Power, one of the distillers at Tamworth Distilling, to learn more about Skiklubben Aquavit.
Christy Olsen Field: First of all, can you tell me about your position at Tamworth Distilling?
Matt Power: I am one of the distillers at Tamworth, and my work is more of a botanical chemist: I am constantly smelling plants and ingredients and think about the balance of aromas and how I can extract those aromas to put into a spirit.
COF: Tamworth Distilling makes an impressive variety of spirits. What inspired you to add aquavit to the lineup?
MP: Aquavit is special to us because most Americans are familiar with gin, a juniper-based spirit. Aquavit is made very similarly to gin but made with caraway or dill. Most gins are on the fruity, floral side of things, so embracing the woody flavors makes it possible to open this whole world of flavors. Shine the light from another angle, if you will.
COF: What ingredients do you use in Skiklubben Aquavit?
MP: Caraway isn’t something that we use often in New England, so it was a challenge to find something that could bring the woody flavors of caraway. We saw the woodiness of ginger that brought a whole new world of bright flavors. We also have some bitter orange peel, cardamom, star anise, and caraway that melt away into a woody wave. An untraditional ingredient is pink peppercorn, which has a piquant, bright bouquet. We also brought in a bit of New England with black walnuts. We harvest them green in July and cure in the sun, so they take on this dark, tobacco-y flavor. We infuse the cured nuts, and it brings a bit of tobacco, vanilla flavor and helps the aquavit have a bit more body.
One thing that we do at Tamworth Distilling is that we distill each ingredient individually, at different rates and different proofs. Then we combine them into the final product. The ingredients never get above 115°F, which means that they aren’t cooked. Anytime you heat up an ingredient, it changes: the aroma can change or fall apart. With our process, it allows us to express the full fresh ingredients in precise form.
COF: What do you use as the base spirit for your aquavit?
MP: We talked about using potatoes like they do in Scandinavia for our aquavit, but they are too perishable. So, we use our whiskey base—corn, rye, and a bit of malted barley—as our base spirit in the Skiklubben Aquavit, which serves as a rich background for the balanced spice of the other ingredients.
COF: What inspired the name of Skiklubben?
MP: Skiklubben, or the Ski Club in Norwegian, is a nod to the Nansen Ski Club, which was founded in 1872 by Norwegian immigrants in Berlin, N.H., about an hour north of Tamworth. Nansen Ski Club is the oldest continuously run ski club in the United States, and it maintains cross-country trails. There is also an enormous ski jump called Big Nansen, and it’s currently under restoration. We wanted to incorporate this Norwegian link with the ski club to the aquavit.
COF: What’s your favorite way to use Skiklubben Aquavit?
MP: I always enjoy it served neat, which is one of the hallmarks of Tamworth Distilling. It has a slight bit of sweetness and acid, and a full body of botanical spirits. It is really balanced.
Skiklubben Aquavit is available for purchase at Tamworth Distilling in Tamworth, N.H., Art in the Age in Philadelphia, and available for nationwide shipping at seelbachs.com.
To learn more about Skiklubben Aquavit, visit tamworthdistilling.com.
All photos courtesy of Tamworth Distilling
Created by Jackie Nevin, bartender at Art in the Age,
a liquor store in Philadelphia
Reprinted with permission
1½ oz. Tamworth Distilling Skiklubben Aquavit
¼ oz. maple simple syrup (recipe follows)
1 full dropper Crude Spruce & Birch Bitters
Here’s how you make it:
Add all liquids to a mixing pitcher with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into brandy snifter glass with whiskey stone. Garnish with rosemary sprig.
Maple Simple Syrup
Runamok Rye Whiskey Barrel-Aged Maple
Combine one part Runamok Rye Whiskey Barrel-Aged Maple to ½ part warm water. Mix until combined.
This article originally appeared in the Nov. 19, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.