How did a guy from Texas become a maker of aquavit?  That’s a good question, and one that I get frequently.  Growing up in Houston and spending much of my adult life here and in Katy (a suburb of Houston), one would not think such a thing likely.  The reason behind it is equal parts curiosity, a quest for interesting drinks, and some friends who brought a little bit of the old country  with them to Texas.

In my Katy neighborhood where I settled with my family, I met and became friends with some the Scandinavian diaspora, people who enjoy gathering with friends for evenings of good food, a lot of laughter, and of course, aquavit.  Taking a liking to the aquavit—at the surprise of my friends—I started making my own at home with a recipe developed using a little research and some tweaking for the right combination of spices that I like.  (Even better, my friends and family also liked it!) I didn't need much more  encouragement to make some more.

Over time, the product became smoother (thanks to the oak barreling introduced by my wife, Andrea) and the taste more refined.  The real turning point, however, was a chance meeting with a distributor who encouraged commercial production of the product.  From there it moved from a hobby to a labor of love.

But first, of course, a name.  After much thought, there was one word that kept coming back to me: Valhalla!  It recognizes the drink’s Nordic roots, invokes a recollection of important cultural mythology, and is a term recognized by both Scandinavians and Texans.  Thus was born Valhalla Premium Aquavit, made in Houston by a Texan—a Texan with some Scandinavian inspiration.

The back story of Valhalla Premium Aquavit

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Bottle photograph copyright Tim Neil.