What did you do before creating your distillery and gin?
I was Managing Director of a company producing eco–toilets.
What made you decide to create your distillery?
I was kind of tired being an employee (even being the boss), so I played a long time with the idea of doing a startup at some point. The idea of a distillery came in 2010 when a friend of mine had been to Scotland and told stories about something called Distilleries (which I didn’t know anything about). I talked about building a distillery with my friend and my wife, but very quickly discarded this idea as something really foolish. But time passed by and this crazy idea would somehow not leave the back of my head, so in 2013 I picked up the idea again and started to do research on the industry. I was then amazed at the potential of this industry in our part of the world (the Arctic). After some discussions with my boss (wife) I went back to my friend and said that I am willing to go all-in. I quit my job and put all my money, career and reputation on an Arctic Distillery and getting it running. Of course, my friend thought I was crazy and agreed to go along.
How did you get from the idea to opening the distillery?
It took more than 2 years of planning, marketing, financing, discussing, building and getting the right competence in, but in late 2016 we were in production at the world's northernmost distillery. Being in the Arctic we wanted to make use of the unique Arctic raw materials for all our products – including the Gin. Hence – the Gin development took quite a while, but with the help of competent people we were able to make a unique arctic product.
Can you tell us more about the distillery?
The Aurora Spirit Distillery is situated at an old NATO coastal fort, situated at the foot of the Lyngen Alps at 69ºN in Norway. It is a beautiful spot with lots of daylight during the summer and lots of Northern Lights during the winter. We have adopted the model of combining production with tourism, which has proven to be a good combination for us.
Can you tell us more about the botanicals?
We harvest the botanicals for the gin during the short summer time. All botanicals in the Arctic environment have unique character due to the special light conditions. During summer the sun does not set for 60 days, which makes for a long-enduring photosynthesis. This makes the botanicals more rich in sugar, vitamins and anti-oxidants. We work together with lots of different providers, who pick berries and botanicals at special locations in our Arctic surroundings. Our head distiller prepares all the botanicals by hand before distilling.
What can people expect and experience if they visit the distillery for a tour?
They can expect fantastic scenery and a stylish distillery which combines modern technology with old fashioned handcraft. We won this year's “Drinks Tourism Challenge” in the category “Best Visitor Centre”. We have different guided tours and tastings which the visitors can choose from. Please check our website for more info and online bookings: www.bivrost.com
What have been the biggest challenges and achievements so far?
The biggest challenge was raising investment money. We went to several banks who thought we were kidding – trying to make money on spirits in the most alcohol–conservative country in the world. We had to guarantee personally for all loans, and doing 2 submissions in order to raise the necessary capital.
How would you describe your gin in 3 words?
Fruity, balanced, citrus.
What's your favourite way to drink your gin?
Fever-tree tonic, ice and no added citrus.
What gins would you always have on your gin shelf (other than your own of course!)?
The Norwegian Harahorn Gin and Bareksten Gin.
What's next for Bivrost Gin - any exciting plans?
We have developed a Cask – aged Gin, and 2 different herbal liqueurs – being launched in 2020. Also in 2020 our first Arctic Whisky batch will be launched.