Back in the day, Anssi Pyysing‘s life was at sea. Sailing the oceans as a member of a ship’s crew, docking at various ports of the world, he discovered and tasted a range of beers he hadn’t known existed.
“In Finland at the time, beer mainly meant lager, and everything tasted quite samey,” he reminiscences. “It felt fair to wonder why there weren’t other options available in Finland, when elsewhere the selection was so abundant.”
The reason boiled down to the country’s alcohol policy before entering the European Union. Due to price regulations, breweries had to be effective and be able to purchase ingredients cost-effectively, which meant that only a few big players were successful in entering the market.
Now, the world is very different. Both goods and people flow much more freely across borders, and microbreweries and small distilleries, including from Finland, are trending globally.
It wasn’t immediately after Pyysing docked back in Finland that he got into the brewing and distilling business. Beverages remained a part of his life, though; in the mid-1990s, he founded a Teerenpeli restaurant in his hometown, Lahti.
A year later, the first Teerenpeli beers were brewed. In 2002, the company family added another new member in Teerenpeli Distillery, which started with whisky and recently expanded to gin.
The restaurant has also spread its wings. Now there are Teerenpeli restaurants in several cities in Finland, all of which serve a wide range of Teerenpeli’s own products.
Small distilleries, big trends
Finland isn’t the only place fond of the Teerenpeli taste. Over the course of 2016, the company doubled its volume of whisky exports.
The challenge with whisky lies in the time its maturation takes. Trends and fashion fads come and go, so planning production can be tricky. However, Teerenpeli has made a strategic choice in deciding to boost its production.
“We knowingly aim for the international market,” Pyysing explains. “The interest in microbreweries has been growing for a while now, and the same is happening with micro distilleries, so we’re confident there’s room for us in the market.”
The first batches of gin were bottled a few months ago, and they’ll start travelling to different corners of the world this spring. Currently, the biggest market is in neighbouring Sweden, but Germany and the UK are also getting their fair share of Teerenpeli beverages.
Pyysing says that Teerenpeli is constantly communicating with potential partners abroad. He won’t name any upcoming countries yet, but so far it’s looking promising.
“People in Europe and Western countries in general are starting to appreciate small companies as they understand that there are alternatives to big corporations,” Pyysing notes. “In that sense, the timing is just right.”
A business opportunity of biblical proportions
Teerenpeli was founded by a team of three, with Pyysing at the head. These days, it employs about 80 people.
Now, in order to continue its international growth, the company is tapping various markets and finding out where to establish its own agents.
Teerenpeli has also been involved in Finpro’s* Food from Finland programme. Pyysing deems Finnish beverages a field of export that isn’t fully appreciated yet, but is one that boasts an abundance of business opportunities.
“It’s a well-known fact that the quality of water in Finland is exceptional in comparison to pretty much anywhere abroad, and its significance is only growing,” he points out. “Being able to process that water to highly refined products should be one of our main focuses.”
Finland can consider itself lucky; not everyone can ‘turn water into wine’, and not everyone has the clean water to do so.
Good News from Finland is published by Finnfacts, which is part of Finpro*.
*Part of Business Finland since 2018