Aquavit, also spelled akvavit, is available worldwide, but in limited variety. To sample the full range, one must visit Scandinavia, and there's no better place for aquavit than Aalborg, a friendly city of about 160,000 people in the North Jutland area of Denmark. It is the home of De Danske Spritfabrikken (Danish Distillers Ltd.), producers of Aalborg Akvavit, the world's largest-selling brand, and 11 others.
Aquavit is a distilled spirit made from grain or potatoes, much like vodka. What sets it apart is the addition of distilled extracts of a range of herbs and spices. Caraway is the most common flavoring, the one most people think of when they think of aquavit. But dill, coriander, citrus, cinnamon and Madeira are also widely used.
The name itself means water of life (like aqua vitae, eau de vie and Lebenswasser). Aquavit is also made in West Germany, Greenland, Finland, Sweden and Norway, but the world market is dominated by Denmark, where distilling has been traced back to around 1400. In 1555, King Christian III established a royal distillery.