Michigan-based Norden Distilling focuses on aquavit. For their Norden Aquavit American Oak Reserve offering they took their taffel style Norden Aquavit and then rested it in 53 gallon barrels that held Kentucky distilled rye whiskey.
Their aged offering blends three different aquavits, of varying aging lengths. The final blend includes aquavit aged for 12 months, 16 months, and 18 months.
Color: Transparent and blonde/hay hued.
Nose: The aging amplifies the dill and caraway. Warm to the point of almost being hot to the nose, spice shines.
As it sits though, at warm temperature it begins to transform slightly with fruity hints of dried cherry and camphoric sage emerging.
Flavor: Bigger and fruitier than the taffel style. Mandarin with hints of yuzu (!). Sedate dill comes on mid-palate. Peppermint and fennel seed notes build as the spirit recedes from the back of the palate.
Finish: Long and hot with mentholic undertones. There’s even a distinctive hint of sour rye whiskey that colors the long finish.
While Norden’s taffel-style aquavit is ideal for cocktails, aged aquavit tends to lend itself best to being sipped neat or on the rocks. For me, neat at room temperature, the round menthol and citrus notes shine. Cooled, the spice comes through more prominently.
Norden Aquavit American Oak Reserve is a versatile sipping spirit.
Overall, Norden Aquavit American Oak Reserve
The barrels have radically transformed their flagship un-aged Aquavit. Further, it changes fairly dramatically in the glass (well, especially on the nose) as it sits out.
No matter when you sip it, Norden Aquavit American Oak Reserve takes the drinker on a long journey as the complex melange of botanicals (more similar to a barrel rested gin than some other aged aquavits) unfold and evolve.