In August 2015, Jari Nenonen and Kim Hanslin sat down to ask one another where their real passion lies. As experienced entrepreneurs, the two friends had co-operated many times before on various management consulting and development projects, but now they sought a new direction for their common goals – one boosted by a personal favourite.
“We came to the conclusion that there is no premium liquorice from Finland on the market,” says Nenonen.
The duo drew on their decades of management experience to create a solid strategy. With exciting flavours and appealing visuals at its core, LIQ was soon destined to spread across the Finnish border.
“Liking liquorice is actually a matter of passion which can be satisfied by serving the customers new flavours and taste experiences,” says Nenonen.
Tailor-made flavours by chef’s choice
Knowing that the premium-label required something extra to tickle connoisseurs’ taste buds, one of the first things the liquorice friends did was to invite renowned Finnish chef Tomi Björck to join the team. After giving him complete creative freedom, the result was a set of surprising yet flavoursome combinations such as orange and black pepper, and raspberry and rosemary.
“As a chef, Tomi knows how to unite different tastes by combining sweet and sour or other seemingly contrary flavours that go well together and complete each other,” says Nenonen. “He insisted that we should only choose the best natural raw ingredients, and therefore no artificial flavours are used.”
Today, LIQ is available in nine different flavours that all tell their own story. Together with marketing professionals N2 Helsinki, a theme was created by letting the black delights symbolise the dark winters up north and adding different concepts of time with the infused tastes. For example, the salty caramel-flavoured LIQ Dusk merges the flavour of toffee with the last sunlight of the day:
“Just before the sundown, the flavours of LIQ dusk envelop your mouth with a full, roasted taste. The dusk soon settles into darkness with the soft taste of toffee.”
As a result, the flavours also serve different moods of the day. While the sea salt-infused LIQ Moon is best paired with a glass of red wine in front of the TV in the evening, the first latte of the day is complemented by the coffee-flavoured LIQ Morning.
New direction with super premium alternative
The Finnish premium liquorice is currently available in several airports in Northern Europe, and there are ongoing negotiations with significant actors in Sweden and Central Europe. Interest in LIQ has been especially significant in Germany, which is fuelling the company’s current strong growth.
“This has been a passion-driven project and our goal from the beginning has been to take LIQ into international markets and make it big,” says Nenonen.
Looking ahead the company’s fresh flagship is a “super premium” concept that broadens the selection with a combination of liquorice and flavours such as chocolate or corn, freshly mixed on-site in a special mill. This artisan product creates a new taste experience that cannot be bought online and mobile shop-in-shops are already planned for several locations.
“The customers can smell the liquorice when coming to the shop, and they get to taste fresh liquorice while we tell our story,” says Nenonen.