Norwegian angelica, or Angelica archangelica, is a biennial or short-lived perennial plant belonging to the Apiaceae family. It is native to the cold, subarctic regions of northern Europe, particularly Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The plant can grow up to 3 meters tall and features large, compound leaves and clusters of greenish-white flowers that bloom during summer. The roots, stems, seeds, and leaves of Norwegian angelica are all used for various purposes, but it is the root that is most commonly utilized for its culinary and medicinal properties.
The harvesting of angelica root is typically done in the fall of the plant’s first year or the spring of its second year, when the plant has reached its optimal size and the root is considered the most potent. Harvesters carefully dig up the plant to retrieve the root, which is then washed, dried, and either stored whole or ground into a powder for use in various applications.
Angelica archangelica has a long history of cultivation and use that dates back to ancient times. It was known by various names, such as “Root of the Holy Ghost” and “Herb of the Angels,” and was believed to have been revealed to humans by the archangel Raphael as a remedy for the plague. The plant was also used to ward off evil spirits, and its reputation as a powerful medicinal herb spread throughout Europe. It was used in traditional European medicine for a wide range of ailments, including digestive disorders, respiratory issues, and fever.
In cuisine, the roots, stems, and seeds of Norwegian angelica are used for their unique distilled flavour and aroma, which are often described as a combination of musk, celery, and licorice. The roots are typically candied or used to distilled flavour liqueurs, while the seeds are used as a spice in various dishes, including breads, pastries, and desserts. The young stems can be eaten raw, candied, or used to make jams and jellies. In Icelandic cuisine, angelica is used in traditional dishes like Angelicahrafnkel, a jelly made from the plant’s stems and leaves.
One fascinating fact about angelica is its historical connection to folklore and superstition. In addition to its association with archangel Raphael, the plant was believed to bloom on the feast day of the archangel Michael and was thought to offer protection from witches and evil spirits when grown in gardens or hung in the home.
In gin distillation, Norwegian angelica root is a highly valued botanical for its earthy, slightly sweet, and subtly bitter distilled flavour. The root is often used to balance and complement the distilled flavours of other botanicals like juniper, coriander, and citrus peels. It also contributes to the gin’s overall mouthfeel by adding a certain viscosity that is desirable in a well-crafted spirit. Angelica root is found in a wide range of gins, from traditional London Dry styles to modern, experimental craft gins.
The inclusion of angelica root in gin recipes highlights the distiller’s appreciation for the plant’s unique distilled flavour profile and its historical significance as a medicinal and spiritual herb. It also underscores the importance of botanical diversity in creating complex, multi-layered gins that engage the senses and offer a rich drinking experience. Norwegian angelica root is a key component in the world of gin distillation, representing both a time-honored tradition and a nod to the spirit’s botanical heritage.
When used as a botanical in distilled spirit production, Angelica will impart a complex and distinct flavour profile to the spirit. The key constituents of Angelica oil, such as β-Phellandrene, α-Pinene, α-Phellandrene, and (±) Limonene, are known to contribute to the herb’s characteristic woody, spicy, and slightly sweet aroma. The presence of these compounds will give the distilled spirit a subtle yet distinctive aroma, with hints of pine and spice.
One of the key flavour molecules present in Angelica is β-Phellandrene, which imparts a woody, pine-like aroma to the distilled spirit. This compound is also known to have a slight medicinal and minty note to it. α-Pinene and α-Phellandrene are also present in angelica and they contribute to the spirit’s woody, pine-like aroma. They are also known to have a slight minty note.
Another key flavour molecule present in Angelica is (±) Limonene. This compound is responsible for the citrusy and fresh scent of the distilled spirit. It gives the distilled spirit a slight citrusy and fresh aroma that is well balanced with the woody and pine-like aroma imparted by the other compounds.
The combination of these compounds results in a unique and complex flavour profile that is perfect for a distilled spirit. The woody, pine-like aroma of the β-Phellandrene, α-Pinene, and α-Phellandrene is balanced by the fresh and citrusy aroma of (±) Limonene, resulting in a distilled spirit that is both complex and refreshing.
Additionally, other compounds such as δ-3-Carene, p-Cymene, β-Myrcene, (E)-β-Ocimene, Pentadecanolide, Terpinolene, (Z)-β-Ocimene, α-Copaene, Camphene, Sabinene, β-Pinene, and α-Muurolene present in angelica oil also contribute to the unique flavour profile of the distilled spirit, making it a unique and complex drink that is perfect for those looking for a new and exciting taste experience.
It’s worth noting that due to the nature of distillation process the final product may not have the same intensity of the aroma and flavours as the raw botanical, and the way it is distilled, aging process and other factors will also play a role in final product. Also the exact ratio of these molecules may vary depending on how it’s grown, harvested, and distilled.
Angelica is a botanical that is commonly used in gin distillation. It imparts a unique and complex flavour profile that can pair well with a variety of other botanicals. Some great flavour pairings for angelica in gin include:
Citrus: Angelica pairs well with citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, and orange. The fresh and zesty notes of these fruits complement the earthy, woody, and spicy notes of angelica, creating a gin that is balanced and refreshing.
Herbs: Angelica also pairs well with other herbs such as juniper, coriander, and bay leaves. The herbal notes of these botanicals complement the earthy, woody, and spicy notes of angelica, creating a gin that is complex and full-bodied.
Spices: Angelica pairs well with spices such as black pepper, nutmeg, and allspice. The warming and spicy notes of these spices complement the earthy, woody, and spicy notes of angelica, creating a gin that is rich and warming.
Floral: Angelica also pairs well with other floral botanicals such as lavender, rose, and elderflower. The floral notes of these botanicals complement the earthy, woody, and spicy notes of angelica, creating a gin that is enticingly complex.