Aquavit has had strong roots in Trøndelag for several hundred years – read on for an overview of the aquavits trail in Trøndelag.
The aquavits history in Trøndelag
The aquavit has undoubtedly stood strong in Trøndelag for several hundred years. A major step towards what we today associate with Norwegian aquavit, came in 1807. It was people from Trøndelag who made the great discovery.
Catharina Meincke from Trondheim married into the Lysholm family, and thus became related to Jørgen B. Lysholm, who in 1821 established a distillery in Trondheim.
Catharina M. Lysholm became a widow already in 1772, 28 years old. She was a wealthy and enterprising Trondheim lady and soon established herself as one of the foremost shipowners in the city. Together with her brother, she had several ships built, among them “Trondhiems Prøve” in 1780, and trade big with Europe and the East. In 1805, “Trondhjem’s Prøve” shipped a load of stockfish, ham and cheese to East India, more specifically Batavia, today Jakarta, Indonesia.
The origin of the linie aquavit
In the cargo there were also five casks of potato liquor that they hoped to sell. However, the captain did not succeed any of the Norwegian liquor, and it was taken back to Norway. On December 7, 1806, “Trondhiem’s Prøve” crossed the equator on its way home with its cargo full of spices and other goods. An oak cask with the unsold liquor was opened to celebrate the line crossing. The crew was amazed at what they tasted. Gone was the raw, fusel-infested potato spirit – there had been a transformation in the oak casks during the voyage. Back in Trondheim in 1807, the casks were reopened. The linie aquavit was in principle invented, and aging in sherry casks was a fact.
Jørgen B. Lysholm
Jørgen B. Lysholm was one of the foremost entrepreneurs of his time in Trondheim and became an innovator of Mid-Norwegian industry in the first half of the 19th century. He is probably best remembered for the aquavit that still bears his name.
In 1821, the young, newly graduated Jørgen B. Lysholm started his distillery and distillation plant in Trondheim. With knowledge of distillation, cask storage and linie aquavit, this shipowner created a brand that became synonymous with Norwegian aquavit in the rest of the world.
Linie aquavit – the world’s oldest aquavit brand still in play
It is stored for 16 months in oak casks that have first been used to store Olorose sherry. From the end of the 1830s, exports of dried fish to South America were started and Lysholm regularly sent aquavit in oak casks with the ships back and forth across the equator. In the 19th century, Jørgen B. Lysholm was the country’s best-known brand name, and the company’s aquavit was sold on all continents.
Right up to our time, taking a “Jørgen B” is synonymous with taking a shot of liquor. Today’s Linie Aqavit is still produced as in Jørgen B.’s time, but it is now Wilh. Wilhelmsen’s large ship liners carrying the casks with Lysholm Aquavit to Australia and back.