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Giving the water of life as a farewell

Aquavit connoisseur Halvor Heuch has assisted Vigdis Folde in making Foldes dream come true. From today customers can buy the Svalbard aquavit at Nordpolet. FOTO: Christopher Engås

Giving the water of life as a farewell

Vigdis Folde has spent seven years in Svalbard and at Norpolet, but is moving next summer. As a parting gift, she is giving the archipelago its own aquavit.

"Svalbard has its own cognac which is very popular," Folde said. "But we have no aquavit. Therefore, I decided to make an effort on that front."

She is working with perhaps Norway's foremost aquavit connoisseur, Halvor Heuch, to produce the noble drops. Heuch is a civil engineer and has published several books on aquavit and Norwegian food traditions. In 2010, he was appointed Knight of the First Class of St. Olav's Order for his efforts involving "Norwegian food culture and aquavit tradition."

'A dream'

Folde said she likes to sip a good aquavit and has long been enthralled by the idea of creating a separate aquavit for the archipelago where she has spent so much time.

"It has been a dream for me to make a separate aquavit for Svalbard," Folde said. "Once I was going to do it I contacted Halvor Heuch. And I think the result has been very good."

Heuch is offering flowering praise for the new product.

"Aquavit is our national liquor," he said. "It stems back to Jørgen B. Lysholm, who started a distinctively Norwegian tradition of aquavit."

Barrel aged

Svalbard's aquavit is made of almond potatoes and aged in oak barrels in the Norwegian aquavit tradition.

"This aquavit is a bit milder in flavor than what people might be used to," Heuch said. "It has a slightly lower alcohol content than is usual and is slightly rounder. Nor have we used as much spice in it."

The aquavit will be a year-round product.

Hiorthfjell motif

Folde has been involved in the entire process of getting the aquavit prepared, including the label.

"It was important for me to get a label with Hiorthfjellet in the backdrop," she said proudly. "We also included a sailing ship and a polar bear on the label."

Svalbard's aquavit is produced in the traditional Atlungstad distillery just outside Hamar.

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