Unusual spirits from around the world

Unusual spirits from around the world

Six weird spirits to try

  • Akvavit/Aquavit

Dating back hundreds of years, this Scandinavian spirit is distilled from grain and potatoes. Its major flavour is similar to pickles. It has a sharp taste and is usually slowly sipped with meals. Akvavit is often used in cocktails like martinis or Bloody Marys.

  • Absinthe

This highly alcoholic spirit with an anise flavour has an interesting history, which goes back to Europe’s Middle Ages when it was believed to cause hallucinations and euphoria.  This led to Absinthe being referred to as the Green Fairy and it being banned widely in Europe during the early 1900’s. This beautiful green spirit is made from the flowers and leaves of Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), green anise, sweet fennel, and other culinary herbs.

Fortunately, Absinthe is legal in South Africa. There is also a local one available. Distillery 031 distils their own locally and globally unique absinthe.

  • Baijiu

Baijiu, also known as shaojiu, is a colourless liquor made in China. It is made by fermenting cooked sorghum along with a starter called jiuqu, used to make soy sauce and sake. The flavour of Baijiu is different from any other spirit. It is usually described as smoky, citrusy and fruity.

  • Ramazzotti

Ramazzotti is an Italian digestive bitter liqueur Amaro. It was originally produced in pharmacies and offered as a health tonic in the 1800s. It tastes and smells of cola and bitter orange. Ramazzotti is made from fruits, roots, spices and medicinal herbs and has a syrupy consistency.

Traditionally, it is served chilled and neat as a digestive. Sometimes, it is served with a citrus slice.

  • Soju

Did you know that Soju is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world? This clear, low-alcohol, distilled rice mixture is similar to saki and made in South Korea. It is available in a variety of flavours.

  • Agwa de Bolivia

Agwa is made in Amsterdam. It is made with cocoa leaves and 37 other herbs. It also has a little touch of chocolate for easy drinking. It is typically diluted with tonic water and served on ice as a refreshing aperitif. Agwa de Bolivia is not sold in South Africa, and it can be quite difficult to get your hands on a bottle elsewhere in the world. 

Perhaps one of the greatest qualities of spirits is that they can be made from pretty much anything. While some of the drinks on this list are quite unusual and often not so tasty, others are simply interesting and definitely worth a try, making up a diverse list of weird and wonderful beverages! Try to find some of them on your next travels.

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