State officials want people to stop drinking local distillery's Leathered Aquavit

It's flavored with leather.
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Officials are warning people not to drink a local distillery's Leathered Aquavit because it's flavored with leather.

Norseman Distillery's Leathered Aquavit is made with "non-food grade tanned leather" – that's not an approved food ingredient, so the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is telling people not to drink it because it can't guarantee the safety of the alcohol.

However, Scott Ervin, who owns Norseman Distillery, told the Star Tribune that both federal and state officials had given the OK to sell Leathered Aquavit in Minnesota, adding he was surprised when the Department of Agriculture emailed the distillery telling them to immediately stop making it.

Ervin also spoke with MPR News, saying tanned leather isn't "really an ingredient" in the aquavit – they dip leather into the alcohol, then remove it before filtering and bottling it. He noted that the leather didn't have any dyes or colors in it.

Agriculture officials did say they haven't heard of anyone getting sick from it, adding they became aware of "the issue" after it got a complaint. They are advising anyone who has Leathered Aquavit to throw it out and not drink it.

The Minneapolis distillery began distributing Leathered Aquavit to restaurants and liquor stores this month, according to a post on Instagram. The alcohol has been one of Norseman's most popular spirits, but now Ervin is worried the consumer warning will hurt the small-batch distillery's reputation and business, he told MPR.

What is aquavit?

It's a flavored alcohol that's usually made from grain or potatoes. The Scandinavians invented it, which is a big reason why it's become such a popular spirit for Minnesota distilleries to make.

It's usually yellow-ish in color, and is typically infused with herbs or spices, like caraway, cardamom, cumin, anise, fennel, and lemon or orange peel, Eater said.

GoMN has reached out to Norseman for further comment.

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