Danish Vodkas – Vodkas from Denmark
Like the other Northern European countries, Denmark learned to distil spirits in the fifteenth century, or perhaps even earlier — (a rudimentary still dating to the fourteenth century has been found).
While some grains were used, potatoes were the most common raw material, and for a long time, distillation was mostly a family activity. In the middle of the nineteenth century, there were around two thousand distilleries in the country. Industrialization and the institution of a monopoly later led to a marked decrease in their number.
Denmark differed from its neighbors in its development of a particular style of flavoured spirit, aquavit, which continues to be the preferred drink of Danish consumers (see the chapter on aquavit).
The production of transparent vodka remains marginal, even though new brands have recently appeared, mostly for export, since aquavit does not sell well on export markets.
The Danisco Distillers group is today the largest Danish producer and the only one that makes rectified alcohol, in its distilleries in Aalborg, Grena, and Jutland, which it also resells to other private liquor makers. The group has grown through the gradual absorption of independent distillers, beginning in 1881 with the Aalborg distillery, where the first quality aquavits were made in 1846 by Isidor Hennius.
Today, the group is part of a huge conglomerate of farm-produce industries, Danisco A/S.
Among the wide range of spirits produced by the group, there are two brands of transparent vodkas:
• Fris Vodka was developed in the middle of the 1980s, with the goal of offering a flavourful vodka that would have a rich texture as soon as it came out of the freezer. The Danish word fris means “ice” or “frost”. Its production is fairly complicated, and the goal is to obtain a pure spirit that also has real flavour. The distillation technique, which has been patented, includes several rectification steps, as well as the chilling of the alcoholic vapors to minimize the amount of impurities, which freeze before the alcohol. The process also involves several filtrations, notably through charcoal, which give it its characteristically smooth texture. After dilution with water of great purity, the vodka contains forty percent alcohol. It is sold by a joint venture between Danisco Distillers and the American group Hiram Walker, which has been providing access to the North American market since 1992. It is also distributed in Japan through agreements with the Suntory group.
• Danzka Vodka is a more classic pure-grain spirit that follows international standards. It was purchased in 1994 by Danisco Distillers. Well-known in Denmark, it is also well-distributed on Latin American markets and in the duty-free network. Made in Aalborg with demineralized water and containing forty percent alcohol, Danzka is filtered several times, notably through charcoal, before it is bottled. It is sold in three versions: neutral and flavoured with lemon or blackcurrant.