As journalists, it’s our job to find stories. We’re always searching out the news, looking for the great yarns and the colourful characters who spin the tales.
Every once in a while, we`re lucky enough to have the story find us.
That`s what happened earlier this month. I was in Berlin, Germany, attending executive meetings of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, held during International Green Week.
Green Week bills itself as the world`s largest fair for food, agriculture and horticulture. The size is overwhelming — the halls cover 28 acres and features 100,000 foods and beverages from around the globe. Every step brings a new aroma of kitchen smells from a different country, a new array of colours as merchants model traditional clothing and new sounds of food sizzling and music from the homeland blasting over crowd.
After our IFAJ executive meetings, my colleagues, Marianne Mork from Norway, and fellow Canadian Owen Roberts and I ventured off to walk around the show, eventually finding our way to Marianne`s “home” at the Norway booth and sharing a toast over a few glasses of Linie Aquavit. As we stopped to let our senses catch up with our minds and absorb what was going on around us, we slipped onto the sheepskin covered benches nestled in a corner to sip the spicy Norwegian drink. A nod to the two men sitting at the next table and it wasn’t long before they had joined us. Introductions were made and we were happy to find out that one of the men was the distiller and master blender for Linie Aquavit, Halvor Heuch.
As we asked questions about the creation of Linie Aquavit, Mr. Heuch patiently told us about the process, sharing with us the mystic about how potato mash is carefully stored in matured sherry casks. Caraway, dill, aniseed, fennel are added, adding to the flavour. He told us the liquor is shipped around across the equator, twice, and the constant rolling, changes in temperatures and humidity are what set Linie Aquavit apart from other aquavit brands.
As he talked and explained the process, we sampled the liquor along each step of the process, noting the complexity of the additional flavours and rolling the golden liquid on our tongues, noticing the spices. Mr. Heuch passed us samples of the seeds, vials of concentrated liquids added to the mash and brought the creation of Linie Aquavit to life for us, step-by-step. The magic was unfolding.
It was a surprising and wonderful pause in our day. We were late for dinner, but we had gained a new and inside appreciation for a Scandinavian liqueur from one of the master creators. It was certainly a moment when we were happy to be farm journalists, and thrilled that this was one of the times the story had found us.