Salmiakki – the Finnish salty liquorice

One of the 12 ideas we gave you as a 100% Finnish Christmas present was Salmiakki, one of the food quirks of Finland.

What is Salmiakki?

Salmiakki isn’t a candy per se, since it isn’t sweet. This Finnish liquorice is known by different names in the other Nordic and Scandinavian countries, but in those countries I never saw as big a level of devotion to this food as in Finland.

Salmiakki is salty liquorice, and its main ingredient is the extract of the roots of the liquorice plant, ammonium chloride. From there it also derivates its name – from sal ammonicus to salmiakki.

A bar of Salmiakki
Tasty, tasty salmiakki, along with another Finnish confectionery.

The taste of Salmiakki: Liquorice taken to the extreme

If we talk about taste, you can’t describe Salmiakki’s one. Check out this video from Fazer, one of the biggest Finnish companies and best known for its candy. They made a commercial of their new Salmiakki ice cream and gave samples to Finns – who have been used to the taste their whole life – and foreigners that never tried it before.

What I believe is that everyone should try it. You will either like it or not, but you’ll have a conversation topic with Finns for your whole life. Many Finns don’t like it either, but some can’t live without its taste. Personally, I have to admit that I do like it: It has a spicy point to it, which makes it intense and quite unique.

There is another popular variation of Salmiakki: Vodka Salmiakki, usually sold under the Finnish vodka brand Koskenkorva. The addition of the salty liquorice makes the vodka thicker and more dense, so my recommendation is not to mix it with anything else and enjoy it as a small shot. The first time I tried it was when Lordi won Eurovision – a date marked in red in Finnish calendars – with some friends, and the opinions varied. I liked it, my friends didn’t.

Have you tried this Nordic delicacy? What’s your opinion on Salmiakki’s taste?

I've been writing about Finland for 8 years. In these articles I am trying to transmit my passion for Finland, its marvelous nature and cities, its people and the culture of the country. Thanks for reading!