So I leave Russia and head for Finland and the unique Teerenpeli distillery, this family owned distillery was founded in 2002 and situated in the same building as the Taivaanranta restaurant in the Lahti city centre. Finnish malt sourced from the local malting house with hard Salpausselkä ground water are the main ingredients they use in the production of their single malt. In 2015 they built a new distillery in the brewery meaning that they quadrupled production, being able to produce 160,000 liters per year with the old distillery being used for special runs such as organic and peated whiskies.
They still use traditional methods and pot stills to produce the range of expressions that are available, they have four core and one limited edition available at the moment. Theses are matured in oak casks ranging from bourbon to traditional porter casks. The core range comprises a 10yo single malt matured in a mixture of bourbon and sherry casks, this is also the first Finnish 10yo single malt whisky. The Kaski expression is a 100% matured in sherry casks, while the Karhi is matured in bourbon casks for 5 to 7 years before being finished in a Madeira cask for one year. Then you have Rasi which is matured for 6 to 8 years in bourbon casks before being finished for one year in a Moscatel cask, this is the one that most interests me. The limited edition is called Aura and is matured in tradition Porter casks for 5 years, this is very exclusive with only 400 bottles available world wide. All the expressions are bottled at 43% abv.
We now head to the first privately owned distillery in Helsinki for over a 100 years. The Helsinki Distilling Company founded in 2014 by Finns Kai Kilpinen and Mikko Mykkänen with Irish man Séamus Holohan, started production in August of that year with Gin and the first whisky was distilled one month later. The whisky will mainly be produced using rye, with either a 100% Rye or 75% Rye and 25% barley mash, they will also do a single malt made from barley. The capacity at the moment is around 12,000 liters per year with one mash tun, three stainless steel washbacks and one 300 litre pot still with a seven plate column. Plans are in place to install a second still which would let them triple there output. The owners also have plans to open a bar next to the distillery, perfect match if you ask me.
Now we hop across the border to Sweden, the first of four distilleries to visit would be Box Destilleri. The company was founded in 2005 by brothers Per & Mats De Vahl, who after many years of preparation and financing efforts. Where able to set up the distillery in the beautiful location they had chosen, 100km north of Sundsvall in a early 20th century power station that was used to power a sawmill & billet box manufacturer. Hence the company name, the building lies next to the Ångerman river giving them perfect access to fresh water.
They produce both unpeated and peated versions, with the barley for the unpeated being sourced from Sweden. The peated barley comes from Belgium with the peat used coming from Islay. The new make is made using a very slow distillation process and probably the coldest cooling waters used in the whisky world (2-6°C) from the nearby river. The spirit is matured mainly in first fill bourbon casks (around 80%) with some Oloroso and Virgin Oak casks used as well. The warehouse for maturation is the most northerly used with the 63rd Parallel running through the warehouse. With production running six days a week producing over 100,000 liters per year, this is a company that can not be ignored. There first release of 5000 bottles sold out in seven hours, the second release also 5000 bottles sold out in 50 minutes. In anyone’s book that has to be a sign of an excellent product.
We now head to the distillery I most want to visit in Sweden the Mackmyra Svensk Whisky distillery. First established in 1999 after a group of friends asked why there was no Swedish whisky distilleries, move forward ten years and they announced the intentions to build a new distillery just a few miles away from the original. This time the distillery was going to have its own whisky village built as well, the estimated cost for all of this was around £50 million.
The distillery is unique in its design being 35 meters tall and perhaps the tallest distillery in the world. It’s is so tall because it is what Mackmyra call a gravity distillery, all the malt and water enter at the top of the distillery, working to the bottom as it goes through the distillation process. Using gravity to help with production making it a more climate/environmental friendly way of doing things. The old distillery is still in use but only for special runs and advertising activities, with the new village hosting the visitors center and restaurant’s.
Mackmyra produce to styles of whisky unpeated and a peated style, the peated style doesn’t get its peatiness from peat but from Juniper wood and bog moss. The whisky is matured in a variety of cask types including some made from Swedish oak, giving it a more harsher note than from say an American oak cask. With the three core expressions available being the Brukswhisky bottled at 41.4% abv and matured in a mixture of bourbon and sherry casks, you then have the Svensk EK matured in Swedish oak casks bottled at 46.1% abv. The final core expression is Svensk Rök the only smokey single malt made from Swedish ingredients and also bottled at 46.1% abv. Mackmyra has also released some very interesting limited editions like intriguing Midvinter, finished in French Bordeaux casks, Glühwine casks and sherry casks. This one sounds like a must find for me, as Mackmyra put it making this a more grown-up alternative to the other traditional winter beverages.
This is where I will stop this week, with a couple more distilleries to visit in Sweden before moving on to Norway.