Liquorice, and especially liquorice enriched with ammonium chloride, is a very Finnish phenomenon. Salted liquorice is also produced and sold in other countries, at least in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, but its consumption is highest in Finland. Everyone in Finland is familiar with various kinds of salted liquorice caramels, and Salted liquorice has also found its way into alcoholic beverages. A mixture of ammonium chloride and spirits has been used for medicinal (external) purposes long before the development of the salted liquorice liqueur. Salted liquorice liqueur gained popularity in Finland in the early 1990s, when Koskenkorva launched a 38% liqueur. More than one million bottles were sold in two months. Later, the alcohol content was reduced to 32%.
Koskenkorva Salmiakki is made by mixing licorice and ammonium chloride extract with rectified spirit and diluting the mixture with water and sugar to 32%. A similar liqueur is also produced by several other Finnish producers, and at least in Denmark and Iceland. A 50 cl bottle of Koskenkorva Salmiakki cost €9.50.
The nose has a pure liquorice aroma. The mouthfeel is quite thin and the liqueur is not very sweet. The strong saltiness mixes with the sweetness and the combination is nicely balanced. The taste is clean, it’s full of liquorice, reminding a bit of anis. The ethanol is masked by the strong liquorice flavor, but you can certainly also feel the high alcohol rate. Koskenkorva Salmiakki is a pure liquorice liqueur. It works well in shots and also for various mixed drinks, which the Finns have developed dozens of. I am so familiar with the taste of salmiakki from my childhood that I can’t even describe it exactly. I am sure that for someone who is not used to salmiakki, it will feel very salty and peculiar in the beginning.