This Cruise Is Making Traditional Nordic Liquor on Its Maiden Voyage

The barrels of booze must cross the equator twice, according to tradition.

This Cruise Is Making Traditional Nordic Liquor on Its Maiden Voyage

The “Viking Sun” in Venice—with 930 passengers and six barrels of maturing aquavit on board

Courtesy of Viking Cruises

The 930 passengers aboard the Viking Sun aren’t the only ones taking Viking Ocean’s first around-the-world trip: Six 500-liter barrels of Scandinavian linje aquavit also left Miami on December 15 on a five-month voyage circumnavigating the planet, too. When the ship sails into London on May 5 after the sold-out, 141-day world cruise, they’ll have completed their journey.

But why?

The 500-plus-year-old recipe to make linje aquavit requires that the barrels that hold the liquor cross the equator twice. On this cruise, though, the barrels also happen to be crossing the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. And the International Date Line. And passing through the Panama and Suez Canals. And traveling to five continents and calling on ports such as Havana, Cuba; Papeete, Tahiti; Sydney, Australia; and Shanghai, China.

So, besides the miles accrued, what makes this aquavit designed by explorers so special? The rocking motion from the sea and the temperature changes in different parts of the world are said to impart a stronger oak flavor from the American white oak barrels, producing vanilla and caramel flavors in the liquor to complement the classic herbaceous flavors of caraway, dill, anise, and fennel. The liquor was first aged in sherry casks then moved to oak before being loaded on board the ship.

One of the barrels holding the linje aquavit is on display on the ship.

One of the barrels holding the linje aquavit is on display on the ship.

Courtesy of Viking Cruises

The Viking Sun’s first passengers will get to relax in the spa’s saunas and cool down in the chilling Snow Room. They’ll have their waffles with Norwegian brown cheese before the fireplace in the Explorer’s Lounge each morning. They’ll even see one of the barrels on display in the Living Room on Viking Sun. But they won’t get to taste the liquid fruit of their trailblazing sailing. Before the linje aquavit can be sampled, the casks must be offloaded in Bergen, Norway, after the world cruise passengers disembark in May. The aquavit will then be processed and bottled at the Atlungstad Distillery, where it began its distillation process in Spanish sherry casks, before being returned to the bars of Viking Sun.

Passengers on the upcoming 2019 and 2020 World Cruises on Viking Sun will get to order the linje aquavit, which can be served neat as a warming spirit on cold nights, paired with gorgeously smoked Norwegian salmon (available across the ship, including the dining room’s breakfast menu and in tea sandwiches served in the sunny glass-enclosed Wintergarden each afternoon), and mixed into handcrafted cocktails, such as the Viking Royal, in which aquavit is blended with sparkling wine and lime juice.

The line’s Norwegian chairman, Torstein Hagen, has a special relationship with the ancestral spirit of his forefathers, and so does the ship itself. Instead of being christened with the traditional bottle of champagne, Viking Sun was blessed with a bottle of Gammel Opland aquavit, Hagen’s mother’s favorite, which is one of the many aquavits the current world cruisers can choose as they sail toward London—those, too, will have made it around the world.

>>Next: Ritz-Carlton Heads to Sea With Luxury Yachts and Slow Itineraries

Writer/Editor/Digital Content Strategist. Author. Never checks bags. Asker of questions; Maker of jam.
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