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Finnish spirits race to the podium

Several Finnish distilleries received praise at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, including Kyrö Distillery.Kimmo Syväri/Kyrö Distillery Company

Finnish whiskeys lapped up the accolades at this year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition.

Finnish distillers made a splash at the highly valued professional event that gathers contestants from over 90 countries annually. Among the gold medallists were the usual suspects of Teerenpeli Distillery, Kyrö Distillery and Altia.

The blind-tasting judges, consisting of 250 industry professionals, gave four Finnish whiskeys each more than 95 points, the requirement for the gold medal. Kyrö Distillery’s malt rye whisky and Teerenpeli’s Distiller’s Choice hit 98 points and received additional ‘gold outstanding’ distinctions, which were handed out to just 50 beverages this year.

“This is a big thing for us, naturally,” commented Mikko Koskinen, co-founder and marketing director at Kyrö Distillery. “European rye whisky has some momentum right now, as noted by the New York Times“.

Three beverages from The Helsinki Distilling Company were awarded. Image: The Helsinki Distilling Company

Rye has a special place in the hearts and minds of Finns, as Kyrö’s distiller Kalle Valkonen told the New York Times: “In 2017, when Finland was turning 100 years, rye bread was voted to be the national dish. We have a really, really intimate relationship with rye and especially rye bread. If we want to make a particularly Finnish whisky, it needs to be rye.”

Teerenpeli Distillery’s Kulo was described by the judges as “well-aged with a rich, decadent palate that highlights the sumptuous cooked fruits and crème brûlée flavours”.

In addition to the gold medallists, Finns walked off the podium with several silver and bronze medals. A total of 32 different beverages were awarded, with recognitions going to Helsinki Distilling Company, Tornio Distillery, Northern Lights Spirits, and Pyynikin Distilling Company. Check out the whole listing here.

“We wanted to capture the magical aromas of our homeland in a bottle and decided not to scrimp on raw materials,” says Kaj Kostiander, CEO of Tornio Distillery. Image: Tornio Distillery
By: Samuli Ojala