The product is part of Michelin Star Chef Eyvind Hellstrøm's range of Norwegian spirits. "Enkelt og perfekt" (simple and perfect) is Hellstrøm´s mantra and we regarded it as the essential ingredient for the integrity of the brand. Authoritative, masculine, accessible and heritage were additional ingredients to shape the product and take decisions in terms of materials, bottle shape, execution, tone of voice and colours.
We reduced the choice of materials to the essential and selected only natural and honest ones; the silkscreened glass bottle, the cork closure with an untreated wood top and an uncoated paper seal. We wanted the bottle to communicate a premium and masculine look without compromising its functionality the bottle needed to be comfortable to use around the table and allow serving with one hand. The bottle shape was new in the category.
To silkscreen the bottle was a choice to "reduce" and to aspire to an iconic and sharp brand personality, together with allowing the product to transmit a feeling of heritage and trustworthiness. The ingredients on the front and the measuring scale on the side are both homages to the chef world and the colour of the aquavit is paired with the complementary colour in the seal. The other products in the range are Hellstrøm Sommer and Hellstrøm Juleakevitt.
The earliest known reference to “aquavit” is found in a letter from 1531 from Eske Bille to Olav Engelbrektsson. The letter, accompanying a package, offers the archbishop: “some water which is called Aqua Vite and is a help for all sort of illness which a man can have both internally and externally”.
Spirits were produced from grain, and in Norway with frequent crop failures this created problems. In 1756 came the ban on distilling. The liquor during this time was of rather poor quality. Christopher Hammer is called the Norwegian father of aquavit for his famous thesis on Norwegian aquavit (1776) on distillation and flavouring of spirits.
During the 1700s potato become more common in Scandinavia and quickly took over for grain in Norwegian liquor production. It was an all year spirit, often connected to rituals, superstition, good luck and reward.
In 1816 home distilling was allowed again for anyone who owned land. Home production quickly took off resulting in drunkenness, violence and accidents. In 1833 there were about 10,000 registered distilleries in Norway. In 1845 the number was reduced to 700, and in 1850 only 40 distilleries were left. Until 2002, only one government-owned company was allowed to produce spirits, until legislation was changed to allow also privately held companies to distil and sell their products.