Denmark is a Scandinavian kingdom with a parliamentary monarch and the Danes seem to be the happiest people on earth. They say the reason for this is a good balance between a not too hectic working life and social life. We suspect it is something else entirely: The great gin. Denmark has a long and rich history, the Vikings, who lived there a long time ago, consumed lots of alcoholic drinks, but mostly ale, mead, fruit wine, and syra, a fermented milk. Wine and beer are still extremely popular in the country, but the Danish have learned to love their clear spirits, too:
Besides Danish rum and vodka, the gin from Denmark also deserves respect. With exotic tastes and sometimes very high alcohol content, Danish gin is a real insider tip. As is the case with many countries now, Denmark has developed a gin scene over the last few years and by now small craft distilleries are popping up everywhere in the country. Some brands use local botanicals to give their gin the real Danish taste and the first honey-based gin is from Denmark as well: The Copenhagen Dry Gin. The capital even offers gin tastings by now-the popular drink has really set foot in Scandinavia.
One good example of Danish Gin is the “Woodhill Distilled Gin”: a “small-batch” gin, it is limited in stock and attended to carefully by the distillers. Botanicals that are used for this special gin are juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, iris root, lavender, asparagus, pink peppercorn, lemon-grass, and rosebud and the gin was inspired by the landscape, the sea, the woods, and the warm feeling of freedom and tranquility.
Another special Danish gin is the “Trolden Copperpot Gin”. This one is distilled in small copper kettles, which contain a classic “infusion box”: The gin is particularly mild, but still intense because it gets its flavors from this box. Surprisingly, citrus fruits dominate this gin and not juniper berries as usual. Other botanicals used are orange peel, carrots, lime peel, angelica, coriander, ginger, and pepper. Visually, the Trolden Copperpot Gin bottle is not at all reminiscent of a classic gin, the cylindrical shape of the bottle and the long bottleneck is more similar to a fine wine bottle.
Because not everyone drinks alcohol, but everyone should taste gin at least once, there is a great thing on the Danish market: Herbie Virgin, the world’s first non-alcoholic gin. The gin from Hjortdal Vej is distilled with apples, juniper berries, lavender, cardamom, and orange peel and tastes great in non-alcoholic cocktails. Of course, Herbie also has normal, alcoholic gin that tastes just as wonderful.
Denmark can also show off their great distilleries: One of them is the Copenhagen Distillery, located in the Danish capital. While it started as a whiskey distillery by a whiskey lover who fulfilled his dream of making his own liquor, it has now grown into a bigger distillery where they make whiskey, gin, liqueurs, and other spirits. They also set themselves the goal of making all spirits 100% organic and attach great importance to the issue of sustainability. Among other things, the grist from the whiskey is used as animal feed and the stoppers for the bottle are made from recycled cork.
Another wonderful distillery, founded by engineer Anders Bilgram is the Nordisk Brænderi. Bilram gained lots of experience in distilling during his travels, which have even included Arctic expeditions. The distillery is located in the “Hødalen” ravine, built during the ice age. Besides gin, the distillery also produces whiskey, rum, and schnapps. Only the best raw materials are used for all the products and each bottle has the handwritten date of the bottling day, numbered and signed by the distiller, this shows some dedication!
Outside the Curfew
And last, but not least, Denmark also has great gin bars to offer, the best one probably being “CURFEW”: A one-of-a-kind charming cabaret-like cocktail bar in Copenhagen. It’s a hidden gem, no eye-catching address or flashy lights lead the way. On a quiet street between Vesterbro and Frederiksberg only a discreet sign spells the name of the bar. You ring the bell at the anonymous-looking door, you wait, are welcomed and suddenly swirled back in time to a fascinating mixture of 1920-30s Berlin, New York, and Chicago. Dimmed lights, elegant vintage interior from barstools to bar tools, international, relaxed atmosphere. Jazz music is pouring while exquisite cocktails are shaken and stirred by bartenders in white shirts and black leather holster suspenders. “Curfew in Copenhagen is the kind of curfew you don’t want to adhere to”.