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I discovered Gammel Dansk for the first time whilst flying in and out of Copenhagen airport one time when we lived in Denmark. There was a counter set up in the duty free area where they were giving out small free sample glasses of this, and even though it was still mid morning I decided to have a little try. I really liked it but was slightly hesitant about buying it initially as I'm always buying new liqueurs and spirits and our house always resembles a cocktail bar. However when the guy on the counter gave me a 25DKK voucher (DKK = Danish Kroner, the voucher was the equivalent of about £2.50 at the time) which I could use if I purchased two bottles of Gammel Dansk then I was instantly grabbing two bottles to pop into my already overflowing shopping basket! The bottles that I bought each came with a free Gammel Dansk branded shot glass, and so this at least appeased my husband a little bit when I came back home with even more liqueur!
Gammel Dansk is as the name would suggest a Danish spirit. It's actually a bitters liqueur. Gammel Dansk translates into English as ''Old Danish''. Gammel Dansk is apparently Denmark's number one and favourite bitter, and it has been sold in Denmark since 1964. The Gammel Dansk recipe is one of Denmark's most closely guarded secrets, however it does contain wild rowanberries, and 28 different herbs, spices and flowers from all over the world - including amongst others; angelica root, star anise, nutmeg, aniseed, ginger, laurel, gentian, Seville orange and cinnamon.
You serve Gammel Dansk at room temperature, or ever so slightly chilled - not ice cold, and not over ice. A good tip is to keep the bottle of Gammel Dansk at room temperature and to chill the shot glasses beforehand. Gammel Dansk should always be served neat in small shot style glasses or schnapps glasses. You serve it neat so that you can taste and appreciate the very distinctive flavour created by the wild rowanberries, and the various herbs, spices and flowers. Gammel Dansk is a coppery brown coloured liquid, and it's 38% alcohol by volume.
Gammel Dansk is a very warming and spicy drink, it has a very warm and spicy taste, and it's definitely 'warming' as it goes down your throat and it hits your belly, it isn't however 'firey' like some spirits can be - it's just pleasantly warming. The warming sensation always lingers in my chest and stomach for a little while afterwards as well. It's a very rich and smooth tasting drink, with a slight pleasant bitter twang to it as well. You can taste the rich spices and herbs in this, but you can't pick out any of the individual spices or herbs in it at all. It does have a very slight fruity undertone to it, which I suspect would be the wild rowanberries. Gammel Dansk has a really aromatic and spicy, yet somehow kind of bitter and herby fragrance to it, and it even just smells really warming and delicious.
I really love Gammel Dansk and I do think that it's the perfect dark and cold winters evening or Christmas drink, due to its warm and rich and spicy taste, and the fact that it does actually do a fairly good job of warming your insides up! I find that it leaves me with a really pleasant, warm and fuzzy feeling - a kind of 'at peace with the world' feeling! It's the perfect nightcap on a long, cold winters night, and it's also perfect for sharing with friends.
The ingredients in Gammel Dansk are carefully selected for their aromatic, sharp and bitter qualities. The ingredients include spices from many different places around the world: roots that are reputed to have medicinal powers, and berries that are well-known particularly to children from the Roskilde area on the Danish island of Zealand. Every autumn, the company buys all the buckets of rowan-berries the children can pick. The names of every ingredient and the exact blend cannot be revealed, however. There are only two employees who know the recipe.