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We live in a golden era of gin. It has become virtually impossible to keep up with the category because new distilleries seem to be popping up non-stop. Nowadays these delightful spirits are being crafted with such attention to detail that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to say which is the best gin out there. The omnipresence of the so called hipster snobbery has infiltrated the spirits industry and gin is no exception.
For better or worse people seem to take gin much more seriously these days. Some say gin is still earning its place at table with cognac and whisky, others say it has already surpassed them in some ways. One might argue that it lacks stature that comes with dusty cellars and barrel ageing but on the other hand it’s not shackled by tradition. Either way gin is taking the world by storm and it has even found it’s way to the cold north.
Spirits made in Finland
In 2012 an idea to produce the first Nordic Single Malt Rye Whisky was conceived by a bunch of naked men sweating in a small room. This decision, like most important life decision and deals in Finland, took place in a sauna.
After a couple years of arm-wrestling with bureaucracy Kyrö Distillery strated the distilling process. The distillery is located in the municipality of Isokyrö in an old cheese factory approximately 5-hour drive Northeast of the capital Helsinki. The remote location with its Fäviken-like allure has become a big part of the story. The distillery hasn’t even released its first whisky and already they have somewhat of a cult status.
The world's best gin for gin and tonic
To produce whisky you have to age it at least for 3 years in oak casks. Meanwhile gin is a bit more straightforward to produce and it brings some much needed cash flow before the whisky is ready to launch. According to the CEO of Kyrö Distillery Company Miika Lipiäinen the idea always was to produce gin in addition to whisky but the success of their Napue Gin was far beyond anything they could have hoped for.
In 2015 a judging panel consisting of 250 experts at the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) came to the conclusion that Napue Gin was the world's best gin for a gin and tonic.
Finland went crazy for gin overnight. The Napue Gin is made from 100% malted rye which is quite unusual and it uses several local botanicals such as meadowsweet, sea-buckthorn, birch leaves and wild cranberry. The award-winning Napue G&T is decorated with cranberries and a rosemary twig. The award itself probably wouldn’t have caused a big stir anywhere else but in Finland it hit a nerve. The country went from a bystander straight to the driver’s seat in the global gin phenomenon.
Other finnish Distilleries
Kyrö Distillery is not the only one making waves in Finland. The Helsinki Distilling Company recently won a gold medal in the World Drinks Awards in London with their Helsinki Dry Gin. It seems that the hibernating spirits industry in Finland has awaken and realised its potential.
The booming cocktail culture and a strong line-up of Finnish bartenders makes Finland a great place to visit for gin-lovers worldwide. It’s hard to say where Finnish gin will be in 50 or 100 years from now but the word “dynasty” was uttered in the small cellars of Kyrö Distillery, so I guess these guys are here to stay.