Ice cold schnapps glass on a table

What is the difference between a shot and schnapps?

Shot, schnapps... as we say in Finland: a beloved child has many names! But is there indeed a difference in them? And how cold they should be? How fast a shot bottle can be chilled? Altia's Brand Ambassador Mikael Karttunen answers the tricky questions.

Here we go. The difference: Shots are usually liqueur – that is, a sweet, flavoured liquor – whereas schnapps are typically clear liquors. But are they enjoyed differently? "Vodka or aquavit schnapps are mostly drunk with food, whereas shots are drunk on their own – and in one go, as the name suggests. Shots typically have an alcohol content of 40 per cent, but shots of about 20 per cent alcohol are becoming increasingly popular", Karttunen explains.

Aquavit: a traditional Scandinavian Schnapps

Aquavit is a strong spirit originating in the Nordic countries, at least 37,5% in the alcohol strength department, with a dominant taste of caraway, dill, or both. Traditions like drinking aquavit – that have been around all the way since the 17th century – seem to be quite resilient as the world changes around them. Even a simple plate of herring with new potatoes can be enhanced in flavour and ambience with a serving of aquavit. But, far more than that, whenever we loudly and repeatedly proclaim “Skål!” on these occasions, we raise our glasses and meet the gaze of everyone around the table individually – to express how grateful we are to be in each other’s company.

Try these schnapps:

Shots: A delicious party starter for a night with friends

Shots are often enjoyed without food, in a company of friends in order to celebrate the evening. Shots are best enjoyed when chilled Shot flavours are varied, but popular ones in Scandinavia include: Salty liquorice, smoky shots, mint, mixed brandy, a drop-flavoured shot, ginger and berries.

Try these shots:

  • Koskenkorva Salmiakki Salty Liquorice Liqueur

  • Koskenkorva Minttu Peppermint Liqueur

  • Koskenkorva Ginger Shot

  • Kaski by Jaloviina

  • Koskenkorva Forest Berries

  • Leijona Pastilli Shot

How cold should shots be?

“The coldness is part of the shot culture, especially for herbal liqueurs”, Karttunen explains. And the sweeter a shot is, the colder it should be. Most shot liqueurs contain well over 100 grams of sugar per litre. Valhalla Herb Liqueur is an exception: it goes very well in room temperature, too.

A bottle can be cooled in a home freezer in around an hour.

How fast can you chill a bottle?

A bottle can be cooled in a home freezer in around an hour. For a super-cold shot, however, a longer time is needed. And if the liqueur starts to freeze solid, that’s not a problem. It will still be perfectly good when it thaws slightly. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a risk of breaking the bottle, as the coldest part of a freezer can be around -30 °C (often in the back). For this reason, shot liquor bottles that are being kept cold for longer periods should be stored in the refrigerator rather than in the freezer.

What kind of shots go best with beer?

Herbal shots are a traditional accompaniment for beers. “Many people also have a particular liking for the combination of salty liquorice or a liquorice shot and beer,” Karttunen says.

“This is an excellent combo in my opinion, as the richness of the shot liquor and its fullness in the mouth makes the beer taste even more refreshing.”

“Liquorice shots were invented in the first decade of the millennium, when the salty liquorice sweets were dissolved in vodka. Salty liquorice shorts, for their part, originated in the 1990s, when Turkish pepper sweets were dissolved in vodka.

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