A Look At The Linie Awards 2015

Linie Awards

Last week saw myself attend the annual Nordic extravaganza, the Linie Awards 2015. The event is the culmination of the best that the Nordic countries have to offer from the world of food and drink, with respective competitions to find the number one dish and cocktail for the year. In its 10th year, 2015 saw it being held within Stockholm, Sweden for the first time, away from its usual seat in Norway as the main support comes from the Norwegian aquavit brand Linie, but this was to show the growth of the brand across Europe, and for the first time included Germany within its proceedings.

Held within Stockholm’s City Hall, the evening consisted of some of the best VIP’s, bartenders, chefs and journalists from across the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, as well as Germany attending, with a splash from the United Kingdom as my own country starts to take on the quite underrated category of aquavit.

The first finals of the evening saw each winner of their respective country heats go head-to-head behind the bar, aiming to create a signature serve that will highlight the Linie aquavit. Sondre T. Kasin from Morgenstierne in Oslo represented Norway with his creation Valkyrie, seeing a shaken mix of homemade quince puree, Linie that came infused with blackcurrant leaves and stems, green Chartreuse and Norwegian honey syrup, served over a large ice cube and graced with a blackcurrant branch. Jere Vihervaara of Son of a Punch in Helsinki represented Finland with his serve Hamask, seeing Linie mixed with egg, seasoned sour milk syrup, celery bitters and a sprig of rosemary, all served in a classic coupette glass and a burnt sugar cane and absinthe lit rosemary sprig.

Rolf Bender from the Oak Room in Norrebro in Denmark came to the final with a recipe he names The Scandinavian Flip, seeing fresh red currants, homemade red currant syrup, Pedro Xeminez Fernando de Castella sherry, Linie and egg come together with a garnish of freeze dried red currants. Moritz Billina of Falk’s Bar in Munich put together his Punainenmeri which saw cloudberry jelly, Belsazar dry vermouth, Manzanilla sherry and Linie shaken and served within a cocktail glass. This came garnished with a flick of Belsazar red vermouth for decoration.

The winning cocktail by Charlotta Berggren - Linie in Sight
The winning cocktail by Charlotta Berggren – Linie in Sight

It was to be Sweden though that took home the crown of the best cocktail of the evening, as Charlotta Berggren of Svartengrens in Stockholm impressed with her creation Linie in Sight. It saw Linie, punsch (a traditional liqueur in Sweden produced from arrack), lemon juice, carrot juice and sugar syrup combined and shaken, then served into a coupette glass.

A three course meal was entwined with the finals, which also saw Finland take the crown for the chefs via Taneli Myllyvirta of Restaurant OLO in Helsinki. On hand through the night were three expressions of Linie itself; the pre-journey, regular and double cask port expressions, going alongside last years winning recipe from Oskar K.J. Johansson with Kumminjanne. 

Winning her first ever cocktail competition, Charlotta has said this has given her the confidence to branch out and contribute to other competitions in Sweden and become a force within the industry. I say good luck to her, and It will be interesting to see how the UK takes its palate to aquavit in the next year or two, especially when you have the likes of Monica Berg, bar manager of Pollen Street Social in London and Oslo native flying the flag here with her new Linie Honorary Award.

So aquavit. Have you tried it yet?



Finland is known for building some of the worlds biggest cruise ships, phone giants Nokia and a vodka that has a presence in many a bar – Finlandia. But how did this rather well-know vodka come about? Compared to other rivals, it’s a rather secretive brand, and not one that many know a fact or two about. So without further-a-do, let’s demystify this Finnish name.

Finland has itself a 400 year old distilling tradition, and in 1970, one of its first commercial vodka brands Finlandia was launched in Scandinavia, with the US following a year later, from the Altia Corporation distillery in the small Finnish village of Koskenkorva. To create such a varied range, Finlandia uses the very best that Finland has to offer. The pure glacial spring water, filtered through deposits of moraine sand formed during the Ice Age, is the core of Finlandia. The natural spring in Rajamäki, close to the Finnish capital of Helsinki, was the reason for founding a distillery there in 1888.
Before bottling, all spirit producers need to filter their water supply to a certain extent. While other vodka brands use demineralisation, deionisation, UV treatment as well as reverse-osmosis treatment to treat the water, Finlandia use only simple mechanical filtration to remove the tiny ‘sand- like’ grains in the glacial spring water. The important minerals, that give Finlandia its recognisable character, remain in the water.

Finlandia also uses six-row barley, native to Finland and cultivated by selected Finnish farmers. Finland’s cold winters cleanse the earth and remove impurities, but also leave the growing season very short. But thanks to the Midnight Sun, which provides long days and white nights, the six-row barley grows optimally for spirit making. The six-row barley is one of the most expensive grains, due to its high starch content and short growing season. The starch is the source of sugar, which is pivotal in the fermentation process.

FinlandiaFinlandia is produced with one of the most sophisticated distillation processes in the world, resulting in no necessary filtration. It uses seven column stills, approximately 25 metres high, which use a unique and very expensive multi-pressure system. The six-row barley spirit is distilled in a continuous process through more than 200 distillation stages. During the distillation, all impurities are removed, including fusel alcohols and oils, which make the vodka heavy and grainy in taste. The whole process yields no leftovers as virtually everything is either recycled or converted into side products and sold to other industries. The distilled alcohol is then transported to the Rajamäki production plant where it is bottled.

So how does it fare? Well below I give to you my tasting notes –

Finlandia – 40%

A distinct nose of barley, with an incredibly smooth offering on the palate. Produces a gradual warmth, with a thick texture of barley creating a very long finish with burst of freshness as you breath in.

Finlandia Grapefruit – 37.5%

Fresh, rich and ripe grapefruit upon the nose, with a slight sweetness underlining. Light yet ripe on the palate, with a natural sweetness offering a long, floral and soft finish.

Finlandia Mango – 37.5%

Light, fresh notes of mango upon the nose, with a slight aciditiy but a natural sweetness coming through. Soft with a smooth texture on the palate, with a subtle, floral mango flavour, offering an elegant, zesty finish. Long.

Some great vodka’s to be sipped, but also versatile enough for one of these –

Easy Julep
Easy Julep

Easy Julep

Glass –


Ingredients –

40 ml Finlandia Vodka
40 ml Grapefruit Juice
3 Lime Wedges
20 ml Honey Syrup
1 dash Grenadine

Method –

Muddle the lime wedges and honey syrup in the base of a shaker. Add Finlandia, grapefruit juice and grenadine. Shake and fine strain into a highball glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Or perhaps add Finlandia to this tasty dish –

Chorizo Finlandia Vodka Classic Pasta
Chorizo Finlandia Vodka Classic Pasta

Chorizo Finlandia Vodka Classic Pasta 

Ingredients –

50 g pasta, cooked al dente
70 g chorizo, cut into strips
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp grated garlic
350 ml cream
75 ml Finlandia Vodka Classic
2 tbsp tomato purée
3 tbsp black olives
1 tbsp capers
150 g cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp basil, chopped
Grated Parmesan to garnish

Method – 

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic. Pour the cream, Finlandia Vodka Classic, and tomato purée into the saucepan. Allow to simmer for 10 min. Add cooked pasta, chorizo, black olives, and capers. Finally, add the cherry tomatoes and continue to cook for 1-2 min. until they are soft. Garnish with chopped basil and Parmesan.

Who would have thought of having vodka WITHIN a food dish! The Finlandia range now boasts a variety of flavours including cranberry, mango, lime, red berry, wild berries, grapefruit, tangerine and blackcurrant, all housed within a ‘Glacial Ice’ design by Finnish designer Harri Koskinen and Kenneth Hirst of Hirst Pacific Ltd, New York. Well worth having a bottle within your drinks cabinet, and although it’s not a brand that shouts out with marketing like the others do, it’s a little gem that is worth some appreciation if you come across it.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.