What did you do before becoming Master Distiller at Arctic Blue Beverage?
The road to becoming Master Distiller at Arctic Blue Beverages was paved with chance and coincidence. One of my first jobs working at Alko (the national alcoholic beverage retailing monopoly in Finland) sparked an interest in manufacturing alcoholic beverages. Once I had graduated with a degree in hospitality management, I planned to become a brewer in a microbrewery. As it happened, the Teerenpeli Distillery offered me the opportunity to make Finnish whiskey. I never looked back.
Now I have been making alcohol for 20 years and before gin I mainly distilled whiskey, but I have also been making beer, cider, wine, and liqueurs. I have learnt a lot from visiting various distilleries in Finland and abroad and nowadays I also run my own distillation courses. After ten years of living elsewhere I begun to miss the familiar fells and nature of North Karelia, my home. Luckily my childhood friends were crazy enough to set up a distillery in Ilomantsi.
What made you decide to create your gins?
In 2015 I mainly distilled whiskeys, but soon after that also gin came into the picture when the old pot still that was used for whiskey distilling became idle when it was replaced by newer equipment, and we wanted to get some use from the old pot. Distilling gin was a nice “rule-free” activity after whiskey distillation and allowed me to unleash my creativity.
Can you tell us more about your distillation process and botanicals?
When Arctic Blue Gin is distilled, only the top three stages in our six-stage column pot are bypassed. The aim is to “scare” the heaviest alcohols with rapid cooling, which is possible, due to the deflector in use at the top of the column tower. A strong back flow is achieved and only the lightest and more flowery aromas get through the final cooler.
Chill filtration is a method that is in common use in distilleries for removing residue. In chill filtering, distilled spirit is cooled to below zero degrees and then passed through a fine adsorption filter. This is done mostly for cosmetic reasons, to remove cloudiness, and when a spirit is non-chill filtered the flavours and aromas of the botanicals are better preserved. Chill filtration is not necessary if the alcohol by volume, ABV, of a final product is over 46%. This is the reason why our gin has a higher bottle strength (46.2%), to avoid chill filtration.
Can you tell us more about the botanicals you use?
In our gin eleven botanicals are used - juniper berries, bilberry (the wild arctic blueberry), bilberry leaves, spruce tips, pine needles, coriander seeds, anise seeds, cardamom, lemon mantle, lavender, wild rose petals
The secret of our exquisite flavour: Bilberries, those little blue beasts that defy all rationality and thrive in the frost-covered forests of Finland. The bilberries we use grow wild in the forests near Koli National Park. Thanks to Finland’s harsh winters and the non-stop sunshine of midsummer nights they have a succulent, mouth-watering taste and extremely high level of flavonoids and antioxidants.
What have been the biggest challenges and achievements so far?
The biggest challenge was to create the taste that would live up to the vision of Arctic Blue Gin. At the same time, it was the biggest achievement to succeed with that and to win a lot of awards with the product.
How would you describe your gins in 3 words?
In Finnish, “suomalainen metsä pullossa” - Arctic nature in a bottle.
What is your favourite way to drink your gin?
Personally, I enjoy it neat
Which gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
Besides Arctic Blue Beverages products, The Botanist Gin from the Islay island has been my favourite for years. There is always at least one bottle of it on my shelf.
What is next for you and Arctic Blue Beverage – any exciting plans?
I am super excited about the launch of our new Arctic Blue Legacy. It is a very unique gin that has matured for two years in American white oak barrels.
Can you tell us more about The Arctic Blue Legacy NFT
Arctic Blue Legacy is our latest product launched to the market and it is matured for 24 months in oak barrels. It was back in 2019 when I was given a special mission to create something totally unique and extraordinary. I was told that Arctic Blue Legacy will be bottled in the Finnish design legend, Timo Sarpaneva’s designed bottle – a masterpiece itself. I had to create a product being even better than the best.
The purchasing rights for the 2022 Limited Edition Legacy are sold as 3000 unique NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) - digital certificates granting access to holder benefits. The Legacy NFTs themselves – or the exclusive benefits they represent – are valuable assets on their own and can be easily and securely traded on an aftermarket fueled by the Ethereum blockchain. For more information: https://nft.arcticbluebeverages.com
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